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When You Don’t Know What Your “Style” Is

To me, personal style means so much more than the clothes you’re wearing. It’s what people envision when they hear your name; it’s what you want to be associated with.

My personal journey with style has been one with its fair share of ups and downs. It’s been one of unknowingness, insecurity and finally, realization. Through my various hobbies and extracurriculars, I often felt like I never had the opportunity to develop a personality of my own; that I was just defined by what I did with my extra time.

Growing up, I was a competitive dancer. My weeknights were spent sweating through leotards in a studio and my weekends meant sequined costumes and thicker eyeliner than a 9-year-old should be wearing. When I experienced a debilitating knee injury at 14, I stopped dancing. I remember feeling crushed; dance was what I’d known my whole life. My mom was a dancer, my sister was a dancer, so who was I to deviate from that? 


Happy sis day! ⭐️

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As callous as it may sound, tearing a tendon in my knee was one of the best things to happen to me because it forced me to transition into my next stage of life: the beast known as high school.

I had the opportunity to go to a performing arts high school where more than half of our everyday classes were in our chosen discipline. For me, as a film major, that meant squatting behind a camera or hunching over my latest edit for hours on end. With little time left in the day, I found myself dressing solely for function; what would I be most comfortable wearing while carrying lighting equipment around for 12 hours? My hair never grew past my shoulders and makeup was the last thing on my mind. My graduating class had a total of three girls and seeing each other in dresses and heels was a once-a-year thing. 


@madd.macc caught me reading about the American film industry. yikes.

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I chose to express myself through my work rather than my physical self, which led to four years of baggy jeans, ill-fitting T-shirts and the same sneakers. Even though I felt boxed in by my wardrobe, I never took the initiative to try something new. Could it have been a result of trying to conform to the patriarchal expectations of the male-dominated film industry by distancing myself from anything remotely feminine? Maybe, but that’s a discussion for a whole other article.

And then, a turning point: I vividly remember going shopping with my mom for my high school graduation dress. I picked up a salmon-pink, floral-patterned wrap dress off the rack and I liked it. I liked it so much. I tried it on and remember saying to my mom, “This is so unlike me.” I let my hair grow long and I painted my nails, I wore lipstick and I felt beautiful. I was finally able to recognize the power and strength that comes with feeling secure with your appearance.


A lovely night! ??

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A year later, my closet is full of florals, dresses and color. But more than that, I know I’ve grown as a person and I let my outward appearance reflect the contentment I feel inside. I’m able to realize that what I used to see as fragments of a personality are the things that make up all the things I’m passionate about.


we’ll find love on sunny days‬ ??? taken by @erinwentleyphotos!!!

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It took almost 19 years, but I finally know what my style is: anything that makes me happy.

Ashley is a social media guru, writer, and film lover. Originally from Chicago, she is now studying Entertainment Management at the University of Central Florida. When she’s not online, Ashley enjoys baking and matcha lattes.
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