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How I dress versus how I want to dress

Written by Beauty, Fashion

Growing up, I found myself letting my personal style be dictated by external factors. I dressed to fit in, whether that was by choosing the most popular style of the week, or by sticking to one group of friends and adapting my whole wardrobe to whatever niche they chose. It wasn’t long before I realised that just didn’t work for me.

Fashion can be an amazing tool for self-expression. There are so many distinct styles out there that you’ll always be able to find something you feel beautiful in. But when all of those styles have their own associations, it’s hard to break out and just be seen as you. That’s why I started changing up my style dramatically every few days. If I wear a cutesy floral dress one day and stompy black platforms the next, people are forced to look a little deeper before making their judgements. If I wear those black boots with the floral dress, well, all bets are off.

My personality does not revolve around what colours or patterns I wear. I’m so much more than that.

In the end, I know this won’t stop people making snap decisions about me. I even lean into the assumptions sometimes – certain looks are reserved for when I want to be treated a certain way. It’s still reassuring to know I’m in control, though. I refuse to put myself in a box the way I used to so eagerly. My personality does not revolve around what colours or patterns I wear. I’m so much more than that. The only thing my clothes can really tell you about me is what mood I woke up in today – or how much I was rushing to leave the house.

It’s true that I dress for myself, but the best way to feel good is – for me at least – to project how I want to feel in how I present myself.

And my clothes and my mood really do go hand in hand. Whether I’m feeling cute or sassy, super girly or more androgynous, the easiest way to show people passing me on the street is by decorating myself to match. The fact that I genuinely like most aesthetics just makes it easier to adapt. It isn’t as hard as it seems to make any given style work for you once you figure out what the core things are that make you feel great. Personally, I like to wear tops and dresses that put more emphasis on my waist than anything else, and wide legged trousers and midi skirts make my legs look miles long. Knowing that, I can play around with everything else while still being pretty confident that I’ll appreciate the end result.

Another key part of my style is makeup. I’ve struggled with anxiety for a long time and it started manifesting as skin-picking a few years ago, leaving me with red and angry-looking blemishes and oddly-shaped scarring, particularly on my face. Thankfully, I’ve started to rely less on hiding behind layers of makeup, but a little concealer is a great way to boost my confidence when I need to feel my absolute best. As common as anxiety is, smoothing over the visible marks it has left still makes me feel more “normal”, so I love to use a “barely there” style of makeup. I avoid bright colours and often don’t apply any eye makeup at all, favouring a natural but perfecting base.

The best way to look good is to feel good. The most flattering thing you can wear is your self-confidence, and the clothes you choose to represent it are inconsequential.

After lockdown started, like many people, I stopped making quite so much effort day to day. Comfy leggings and fuzzy socks are my staples now, and as much as I love getting cosy in front of the TV, the lack of structure has definitely taken a toll on us all. Dressing in anything but pyjamas suddenly feels like an event, so whenever I do make an effort, I’ve started to really go all out. If other people are going to see me, I’ll be damned if they don’t see me at my best. It’s true that I dress for myself, but the best way to feel good is – for me at least – to project how I want to feel in how I present myself. Coincidentally, it works the other way too. The best way to look good is to feel good. The most flattering thing you can wear is your self-confidence, and the clothes you choose to represent it are inconsequential.

All images by Keira Carr

Last modified: 22nd November 2020

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