I remember in junior high being confronted one day in the washroom by some of the girls I went to school with.
The issue – I had to choose my tribe.
My crime you see, was one of the most heinous for these girls, and that was one of fashion.
The crux of the matter really came down to this – one day I showed up to class a mini version of Lisa ‘Left Eye’ Lopes – I loved TLC, Left Eye was the coolest!
The next day it was all Doc Martens & plaid – a Smells Like Teen Spirit poster child if ever there was one.
My choice of clothes bothered these girls so much, that they cornered me in the bathroom to tell me I HAD to choose, that I couldn’t be both hip hop AND grunge.
What happened next still kind of surprises me, but I got angry, really angry.
Maybe it was the final straw after months of just taking their bullying or maybe because what they were saying to me was such utter b.s that I couldn’t help but blow up.
Whatever it was, the dumbfounded look of shock on their faces when I spoke up still cracks me up to this day. The whole thing in hindsight seems absolutely ludicrous now.
After that confrontation they would still make the occasional comment but for the most part left me alone, and I continued to dress however the hell I wanted.
I bring this story up, because I’ve been thinking a lot lately about style and identity.
It’s natural for people to fall in with different subcultures, to have a signature look which they build upon, a certain ongoing aesthetic or style tribe.
However over the past few years, I feel like I’ve gotten stuck in a rut trying to force my look to grow up, to the point where I’m now bored with my style or what feels like a lack there of.
Life can be so serious and trying at times that fashion should really be something fun – a chance to create costumes for your life, drawing inspiration everywhere, constantly evolving.
It’s funny how we can get caught up in self imposed rules and parameters as an adult.
“I identify as X so therefore must dress like X all the time”.
I need to wake my teenage self up and to start applying the same logic I have for music to my dress sense, simply – I like what I like. To feel free to explore and create my own style, representative of myself, and to stop getting caught up in a desire to ‘belong’, because I never have and I never will.
And there’s nothing wrong with that – I think my little 13 year old self could teach me a thing or two about that.
Over the next while I’m going to try and kick this feeling of dread I have whenever I open the closet and try to channel my inner Rayanne, Angela, and Ricki, and start taking note of what I’m drawn to stylistically.
Gala Darling had an interesting post about style direction a while back and defining your “Style Statement”. A useful read and a good starting point to get going on redefining my wardrobe.
Have you ever found yourself in a style funk? If so, how did you work through it?