This was never the plan, I just kind of stumbled into fashion and fell in love. Knowing that I can bring a client joy just by listening to them, hearing their story, learning who they are and styling them in pieces that expresses to the world exactly those things is an amazing feeling.
Coming up I was never what one would call stylish or fashionable. I grew up in a household where children are to be seen not heard and you did what you were told, when you were told and how you were told do it. There was no self-expression or thinking for yourself. For a very long time I was unaware of self, I didn't know what I liked, what I stood for...I had no idea who I was and that is an important, if not the most important component, in styling. I only knew that my shirt should maaaaybe match my shoes. As a kid I wore mostly hand-me-downs from my sister and cousins and honestly, it made me happy to receive unwanted things from them. As a kid, you don’t know that you’re poor or wearing "unfashionable" stuff. You are just happy to have something that you didn’t have before.
My mom put our clothes on lay-away (the new generation may have no idea what that is and how much our parents relied on Lay-A-Way), we shopped at local thrift stores and the salvation army and I loved it! I enjoyed our weekend visits to the local second-hand store, hoping to spot a cute top or shoes for $2. When I was with my mom I loved to sport my stepdad’s way-too- big Fubu jerserys (remember those?), my little sister’s shorts and a pair of sneakers. When I was with my dad in New York I wore uniforms to school and outside of that my grandmother used to dress me up like her little doll so I didn’t really have any chance to explore my own sense of style there either.
I moved to Florida in my teens and the way the girls dressed there was so far removed from what I was familiar with. It was all about Coogi, Girbaud and other brands that I had never even heard of. It was a far cry from the Walmart and thrift store clothes I was used to. I LOVED sneakers and I would pick my clothing based on the sneaker I was wearing. It was all I knew! Jeans, shorts, sneakers and Timberlands but my dad was not having it! He used to MAKE me go shopping with his girlfriend on the weekends and buy dresses, skirts and heels because in his mind, that was how was female should dress. Not in sneakers and Fubu jerseys and because I didn't know any better and had no sense of self or my style, I went with it. The girls from the area in Florida I lived in dressed so badly to me because they all dressed the same! I saw a blend of Bebe, Coach, Magic Mall (a local flea market in Orlando) and Citi Trends everywhere around me. Around 19 I started going out with my girlfriends and I'd be the only girl in sneakers and shorts with plastic Claire’s bangles all the way up my arm and 5 pounds of accessories. Lol. It was horrible. I don’t think you understand how bad it was. I had NO clue what I was doing.
(honestly, this was one of my favorite outfits. LOL.)
(Me to the far right in the pink shirt)
I am totally into dance so my style at that time was heavily influenced by what the girls in the music videos were wearing and what was easy for me to dance in.
(me in the red shirt)
Looking back now, I should’ve known those girls weren’t real friends because they let me leave the house like that! Lol. Then again, their Rainbow shirts and BB’s Discount tights weren’t that fashionable either so who can blame them? I noticed that people thought that what they were wearing had to have the brand name plastered across the front of it in order to be “fashionably acceptable”. Even if what they were wearing was hideous and ill-fitting.
It wasn’t until sometime during my enlistment in the Army that I started to find a slight sense of style. I was growing up and so was my selection in clothing. Long gone were the pink sneakers and Body Central tops. I still wore the bangles all the way up my arm though. Lol. I still dressed like me but less childish.
I realized that I felt like the oddball when I would go out with other girls because I had my own STYLE. I was not fashionable like them, I wasn’t dripping in name brands and my style was a lot different and kind of basic in that it didn't require much but it was mine. I had a very particular style and when you saw it, you knew it was mine.
The clothes we choose to adorn our bodies in are not just pieces of material, there is certainly a connection between clothing and our sense of self.
So, what the heck is fashion, really? Fashion is the relationship to the external. Fashion only concerns itself with what is “hot”, what is “trendy” right now. Fashion is very limiting and almost entirely defined by not only the runway and high-end designers but also society. If society says green is the new black then guess what, fashion will agree and so will millions of other fashionable people and chances are you all will be wearing the same thing. A perfect example of this is shown in an episode of one of my favorite shows.
Fashion is forever changing and at rapid paces. That $11,000 Hermes long coat with cowl neck collar in double faced embroidered cashmere & leather finishing may be hot today and not tomorrow. Literally that quickly.
Style on the other hand is the relationship with the internal. It’s about “what’s in here” (my sense of self, my identity, my perception of who I am). The process of dressing in style is deciding what is inside of self and how can I reflect that outwardly and express that in what I’m wearing? Do my clothes coincide with my sense of self and how I am feeling today? How does my clothing selection today make me feel? Do I feel like a rebel? Do I feel pretty? Do I look like the earth loving hippie that I am?
Fashion is distracting while style is connecting. Fashion takes the attention away from the person and places it on what’s being worn. Fashion is the expression of the designer while style brings the focus to ourselves. In fashion, all emphasis is placed on what is being worn whereas style’s emphasis is on who is wearing.
Now, when I dress myself or style others, I intentionally dress from a mood standpoint. How am I feeling? How does the client feel? What message do I want to send today when I walk out of the house? I purposely pair items that say, f*** fashion, I wear what I want and in a way that has always been me.
For me, style is about self-discovery on all levels. It is about loving yourself and honoring your uniqueness.