A Story of Style
To put it simply, I love fashion. For as long as I can remember I have taken immense pleasure in choosing what to wear on a daily basis. However, my relationship with fashion has not always been so simple. For much of my youth I spent my days trying to fit a certain mold. Attempting to conform to trends and looks that in reality were not who I was or what I wanted to express to the world.
From an early age I recognized the power of clothing, how it can make you feel and how it can shape others perceptions of you. In kindergarten I distinctly remember donning a floral brocade vest, that I felt expressed my individuality and personality so perfectly that it simply had to be my outfit for the ever important school picture day. This is my first fashion memory and one that to this day makes me cringe. Trust me, that vest was most definitely not the perfect expression of my individuality and personality. Yet, even at five years old I already felt the need to express my identity through my clothing and outer appearance.
Another bold moment in my fashion life came in grade three when I decided to explore layering. I would like to imagine myself as a bit of a trendsetter, but at the time my avant-garde fashion choices were not so well appreciated by my classmates. Layering my pale yellow floral tank top over a simple white tee was, to me, a novel approach to dressing and an exciting new way to express myself. However, when I sauntered into school that day, poised, confident and ready to learn, I was met by strange stares and thinly veiled confusion from other students in the form of queries like, "isn’t that shirt supposed to go under your t-shirt?" I pretended I didn’t care what others thought, but really I did. In that moment I learned the divisive power of a statement look.
Following the layering debacle of grade three my fashion choices became much more mainstream. I found myself ignoring my own personal aesthetic preferences in favor of more palatable and decidedly less interesting clothing. A navy blue hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with a popular brand name became a go-to piece for me. This sweatshirt is quite honestly something I would not be caught dead in these days, but alas as a young, impressionable high school student it was a mainstay in my wardrobe. Thinking about it now my dark, shapeless sweatshirt represents more than just a poor fashion choice but also a desire to blend in.
My university career saw me inching my way back towards the bold grade three student who dared to wear her undershirt over her t-shirt. A bright yellow peacoat and a seemingly endless array of miniskirts from denim to tweed paired with wildly patterned tights found their way into my wardrobe, and once again I saw how I could use clothing to express myself. I was free to explore fashion on my own terms, from ripped denim and edgy graphic tees to preppy polos and tailored shorts. By the time I graduated I had finally narrowed down my fashion aesthetics and knew with certainty what I liked and didn’t like. I had also developed a deeper understanding of proportions and knew exactly how to dress my body. But there was still something missing, something I couldn’t quite put my finger on.
When I made the move to Toronto, I discovered something unexpected. After arriving in the big city I no longer felt the need to hide who I was, instead it was quite the opposite. Living in a vibrant city allowed me to feel freer and more open to my own personal fashion preferences. I no longer dressed for anyone else or to fit a certain idea of who I was, instead I dressed wholly for myself. Each day a new adventure in how I want to present myself to the world.