Influencing Our Sense of Style and Self
I have a problem. I have a problem in that I have a strong affinity (some might even call it an unhealthy obsession) for jackets. I love them. I love them all: vintage leather bomber jackets, Balmain blazers covered in embellishments, chic trenches, boyfriends’ blazers, battered military-style coats and classic wool riding jackets. I can pair any these with the plainest, simplest outfits and they instantly inject freshness into my look. Each jacket conveys something, an attitude, outlook or idea. And while jackets are my fetish item of choice, the same is true for all elements of style.
Fashion may not define who we are, but it certainly influences it. What we decide to put on in the morning, whether it’s a meticulously crafted ensemble or a thrown together look from whatever collection was draped over the furniture; sends a message to the people we come across. Regardless of our varying opinions on the frivolity of fashion, we all live in it, and what we decide to put on has the power to influence how we feel and energy we put out.
Fashion, like music or art is a medium of creative expression that has the ability to inspire, enchant and influence. It is a way of expressing one’s individuality and spirit, an aspect that to some, is so deeply intrinsic to their sense of self.
When pouring over copies of Vogue, Elle, Nylon and Harper’s Bazaar I feel a rush of creativity similar to the high I feel after eating too much sugar or drinking too much caffeine. Similar to the feeling of euphoria that overcomes me in the early stages of dating, when the prospect of something new and the boundless potential of the relationship is overwhelming.
The photography that fills the pages of my much adored magazines is exquisite. Some of history’s most celebrated lensmen have been fashion photographers. Tim Walker, Richard Avedon and Cecil Beaton; museums routinely build exhibitions dedicated entirely to showcasing their work in fashion. I am a huge admirer of their craft, and observing their work stirs in me a desire to create. To create anything, be it a piece of writing, a sketch, a painting or a potted plant. Seeing someone else’s inventive efforts encourages me to create my own.
So strong is my belief in fashion’s powers of creative expression, that I have serious difficulty working in the world of restaurants and retail where I’m forced to sport (horror upon horrors) a uniform. Irrational as it sounds, I feel stifled and uncomfortable in an outfit that was preordained for me to wear. Someone has taken a way my ability to choose, my sense of self-expression. In an attempt to reclaim my stylistic individuality from my oppressors (employers), I become a champion of accessories, peppering my horribly drab uniforms with stacks of bangles, printed sneakers, embellished belts and feathered headbands; anything to make my outfit and essentially myself, stand out.
Ultimately, that is our goal in life. To stake claim to our place in the world, to carve out a niche for ourselves in society, in which we are uniquely and distinctly ourselves. That is what fashion does, it sets us apart from the rest of the world by accentuating our individuality. Fashion emphasizes that indefinable quality in ourselves that is separate from our hobbies, likes and dislikes. That quality that makes us distinctly our own person; mind, body, spirit…and clothing.