Wednesday, August 12, 2015

The Development of My Personal Style


River Island crochet top // SHOP HERE
Cynthia Vinent miniskirt
REEF sneakers // SHOP HERE
Giles & Brother cuff // SHOP HERE

I get a lot of emails and questions about how I came to develop and recognize my personal style. It's never been easy for me to describe my personal style, especially since I pull inspiration from so many different things, people and places. Despite being inspired by such a wide variety, I feel like my style has gone through many transformations throughout time, but always in a very subtle way. And I keep re-visiting styles that I've touched upon before, but interpreting them differently each time that I do. But no matter what phase I was in, I always had so much fun using the clothing that I put on my body to tell a story or give a hint at little secret about myself. Fashion is a way to to both exposure individuality and give off a little mysteriousness. Either way, it's always been such an alluring concept to me. 

Where did it all begin? Why with mom, of course. It sounds like a pretty generic answer, but in my case, it is extremely true. My mom was such a phenomenal dresser, and she was so effortless about it. She knew what worked with her body (she was tall and lean, but actually quite busty), and she wasn't afraid of that extra flair or punchy pop of print. My mom was such a creative soul, with such a great eye for design. I wish she actually pursued it professionally! She always sketched outfitted models for me to color in and bring to life with patterns and drawn rivets. I will never forget the pair of red plaid pants my mom made for me to wear in the 5th grade. I'd still rock them today with a pair of black ankle boots. Back then I wore them with red suede Vans slip-ons. My mom loved to voice her opinion on what she thought I should or shouldn't be wearing, but in the end she always let me have my freedom, and she applauded when I came up with something outside of the box. Like my baby blue fuzzy sleeveless top from Forever 21 that made me feel like the coolest person in the 7th grade. 

I never had an unlimited amount of spending cash growing up to go shopping. I wanted to save my allowance for bigger things anyways, like a trip around the world or moving to NYC (or both). So while I salivated over a lot of what I saw at the mall, I learned to utilize my nose for good fashion at good budgets. My mom would take my sister and I throughout the city of Los Angeles, hitting up estate sale after estate sale, where we would dig up to our knees through closets and drawers for vintage designer finds or whatever would catch our eye. That's when my love for the unique, retro and quality-made came to start. Thanks mom, for showing us what a girl can get when she spreads her dollar far. Soon after, my sister and I went to explore our own, getting to know what was inside even the most dingy looking of thrift stores in Los Angeles and in the tiny beach towns outside the city to find some of our best gems. So many wool blazers in every color of the rainbow. Versace jeans we'd cut into short shorts to wear with said blazers. Oversized floral maxi dresses that we'd hem and cinch at the waist with a leather belt. Silk secretary blouses in every sort of print imaginable. Some chic. Some truly crazy but loveable. We wanted to wear these things because we didn't want to look like everyone else, and we liked to think that not that many people out there actually owned the exact same piece. And that if they did, that they'd at least have an interesting story to go along with it. And the hunt for it all was what made it even more exciting. The idea that we literally worked for what we wore made the effort of getting dressed even greater, more valuable and meaningful. 

I devoured fashion magazines not specifically for the breakdown of trends, but for editorial spreads that twisted clothing combinations and backdrops into stories. At the same time I devoured novels and stories by great writers who created characters that I got to know through and through, imagining the way they would be if they were real in flesh and blood. I'm not gonna lie, but the character from the books I got my hands on definitely left a mark on the way I dressed. The same went with music. The feelings I get from the sounds I hear give me the chance to step outside of myself and into a realm where I can be anything I want to be. The cool confident chick who won't let boys break her heart. Or the soulful songbird who finds love in the sky. Thanks to Laura Ingalls Wilder who gave me the push to add more calico, prairie-style dresses into my life. Thanks to Anne Shirley from Anne of Greene Gables for getting me into cotton Victorian blouses to wear under my overalls. Thanks to Molly Ringwald's character in Pretty in Pink for giving me that quirky sensibility (much more calm today, but still). Thanks to Stevie Nicks for make me want to be young, wild and free and dress like it always. Thanks to The Doors album for influencing my fall go-to outfit, leather pants, a billowy blouse and a sexy low slung belt. Thanks to childhood trips to Southeast Asia for giving me an eye for bold color and texture. Thats the feeling I love most about fashion. The ability to use it as a tool to show everyone your diversity, your inspirations, your creativity. 

It's funny to think about all the people in the world and how differently we all view fashion and care about it (or not care about it at all). To some, it doesn't make a difference at all the t-shirt they have on their back, or the color of their jeans, or even the belt around their waist. And really, that is okay. Fashion isn't the center of the world for everyone on this planet. And it shouldn't be. Because if it was, the world would be a very, very scary place. At the same time, it sometimes puzzles me when people do not give two fucks at all about what they wear. Fashion, to me, is such an outward expression of individual personality. I never first judge a person by their outfit, but I do consider it, and I do always appreciate it when someone puts in effort. Whether they are in style or out of style, on trend or not on trend, as long as they put some thought into it and dress to feel good about themselves, then that makes a difference to me. 

I did have a phase in college when I've tried not caring and I literally couldn't do it (I made a short-lived decision to NOT pursue working in fashion). I didn't feel myself in the straightest legged jeans I could find and the most basic t-shirt and sneakers as I walked to class. There was no extra hop in my step, because that is what fashion did for me. It gave me that extra hop. I felt a connection with it. A connection with the feeling of a certain silk against my skin, or a pattern that felt so right with the color of my hair, or the confidence boost that the perfect leather jacket gave me. It was something that made me feel good, and was the topper to everything else good in my life. I've never been one to judge a book by its cover, nor would I want others to just judge me solely on my cover (aka my outfit), but I hope that it inspires others to take some time to find ways to get creative with how they dress, but only because they want to. 

In the end, it all comes back to mom. Thanks mom for inspiring me every day and living life so beautifully and kindly in the most amazing ensembles. It stuck with me, and I'm glad it did. 


Unknown said...

I relate so much to this post. Beautiful. Love it.

Unknown said...

Oh man, I feel like I could have written this! I didn't have the LA thrift stores growing up, but I've always found inspiration from my music and books. You're right about the little hop in your step that you get when you just feel amazing about your clothes. When I tried not caring, I honestly got depressed. I do care! A lot! To me, outfits are a fun puzzle - I'm putting pieces together till I get something that looks perfect. It sparks joy, so why not just admit you care and do so freely?

In fact, and this might be controversial, but in my personal experience, friends and family who said they didn't give two fucks about what they wore turned out to have a really low self esteem. Again, this is just people I have met personally, but they only said they didn't care. They were really just clueless and tried to act cool about it, but their lives did a 180 when they realized that the perfect cut of jeans can change your entire mood. Either way, I think secretly most people do care even if they say they don't. I think some people are just too scared to get outside of what they know.

Anyway, sorry for the long winded rant! I just really enjoyed what you had to say this morning.

P.S. I was totally Laura Ingalls for Halloween in first grade. I was the only kid who showed up to school in a prairie dress, apron, and bonnet and kids made fun of me but I was really sad when I outgrew that dress!!!

Unknown said...

Where in LA did you grow up? I went to Beverly High. I would do the same thing with my mom and go to every estate sale and thrift shop to find the best vintage pieces

AVY said...

Same here, mother never did give me much but style I learned from her.


Unknown said...

love this!!

Unknown said...

This is so cute! You inspire me everyday beauty!

Stephanie said...

Beautifully written, definitely inspiring.. love that first picture!


Unknown said...

Beautifully written! You I'm literally smiling ear to ear reading your style story.


Yonosoyunaitgirl said...

I love your style! XX

rossana said...

Oh honey I am a crazy fashionista all the time ever since I was in 3rd or 4th grade. Hated my uniforms in all white and can't wait to get home to change. So miss you guys and so glad you are still a fashionista all the way !!!

nancy john said...

If being fashionable has never been your forte in past times, you may well be feeling a little bit daunted at the notion of going clothes shopping. The secret to success this is to continually seek some help. 

Fashion Accessories

Michelle Lee said...

such a great post!! always love your writing