In 2019, I went to every Hot Topic store, bought every band tee, and regularly shopped at Sephora and Shoppers Drug Mart to snag every good deal on clothes that matched my style.
I then ran home, locked myself in the washroom, took out my Kohl eyeliner, and outlined my lash line and waterline 10 times.
I looked like a panda, but I loved it.
Then, I put on black gloves, laced up a pair of black Converse shoes, and tossed on a black sweater and a pair of black jeans.
This was me, and I loved it.
But little did I know that six months later, I’d no longer be that girl who only wore black. The world underwent a massive lockdown, and I didn’t have the time and energy to apply dark makeup and wear black clothing every day. I didn’t particularly want to spend money either, so whenever I went outside, I wore sweatpants, a sweatshirt, and a pair of sneakers. I rarely touched my eyeliner — even when I promised myself that I’d start wearing it again.
Four years later, that girl who wore heavy eyeliner and band tees is a complete stranger to me.
Looking back, I can’t believe that I once invested in so many products to dress a certain way. I can’t fathom that I spent countless hours in front of a mirror, perfecting my already-messy smoky eye. And I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I identified myself only through my clothes. Why did I have to show the whole world that my favorite color was black?
This question remains absurd to me. I tried so hard to not follow trends, but I no longer felt comfortable in my own skin. A few years ago, my style was my identity because I wanted others to see who I truly was inside.
But why do we have to define ourselves by our style choices? It seems that as a society, we often put our style above our comfort level.
See those booty shorts? “They look a little too short for me, but I’ll wear them because they’re trendy.”
What about that black turtleneck sweater? “It’s too tight on me, but I want to show those people in my class that I’m cool.”
It’s as if we shape our entire identities around our clothes. Whether we want to say that we’re trendy, classy, or emo, we often pick clothes to reflect that aesthetic before we do anything else. And because we chose to identify ourselves as an entire aesthetic, many of us revamp our whole wardrobes.
We become so psychologically conditioned to our “look” that it becomes impossible to dress in a new way.
“I want others to know that I’m serious,” we think to ourselves as we throw on a blazer. It’s as if without that blazer, we can no longer fill that “serious” role.
It’s all fun. But suddenly, our circumstances change.
Many of us get new jobs, go through breakups, or change what we study in school. As a result, our fashion priorities begin to shift.
We cringe at how we used to dress, so we decide to revamp our wardrobes. And for some of us, the cycle continues. We want to look like the people we wish we were instead of the people we are. Even when our fashion choices don’t reflect our true selves, we still wear clothes that don’t fully represent us.
But later on we realize that we can’t always dress the way we want to. We’ll probably have to wear those ugly shorts when we hit the gym or sport a tracksuit when we buy our morning coffee. It sometimes takes way too much effort to dress to match a certain aesthetic. Eventually, many of us realize that in the end, fashion should be about what makes us feel comfortable in any given moment.
Think about a time when you felt sad. You may have picked darker colors and more simpler clothing. And think about the last time when you went on a first date. Would you wear sweats in front of your date? Our clothes change depending on the situations we’re in and how we feel about them, so why go for just one style?
We’re multi-faceted. We’re more than our red lipstick, our Kate Spade purses, and our cashmere sweaters. Dress the way you want, and don’t worry about how you look. You’ll start feeling more comfortable in your own skin and still be fashionable because being yourself will help you pull off anything.
Featured Photo by Candice Picard on Unsplash.