How to Find Your Personal Style & Dress for Yourself

We live in a world where a pressure exists to be and look exactly as everyone else. This lack of individualism in today’s culture has left many unsatisfied and creatively curbed. I have felt myself grow nervous and hesitant to step outside of the rigid construction of how we are supposed to dress in order to satisfy society’s trends. Dressing a certain way may mean subjecting oneself to situations where onlookers feel the need to spew disrespectful phrases in passing, often leaving one feeling violated and as if they did something wrong.

I am here to tell you that you shouldn't let this negativity stop you from dressing as you please. It is sad to think that many individuals are hiding behind clothing that do not represent them and dampens their personality. Clothing serves as an expression of identity, personality, and self. Girl (or boy), dress how you want!

Personal Style & Individuality

Personal style is derived from the core of you who are. I have always considered personal style to be something intimate. Style consists of choosing outfits based on likes and dislikes and even the mood one feels that day. No matter what, the individual’s personal feelings and spirit are incorporated in the ensemble. Style is something interesting to encounter because of its uniqueness and ever-changing quality. After all, what I wore in 2013, I wouldn’t be caught dead in today! Sadly, there is a practice of mainstreaming style that is intruding on individualism I don’t stand for. Embrace your individuality even if others don’t accept it. Currently, I am on the path to recovering my true dislikes and likes without being influenced by society’s fashion standards.

Regain Your Style

It is difficult to remember what you truly like when your mind has been trained to follow the fashion rules dictated by commercial outlets. It's important to find what speaks to you. First, picture the colors you imagine yourself wearing most. For example, I prefer emeralds, metallics, nudes, whites, blues, and essentially neutral and natural colors. Think back to the forms you find most flattering on your body. For myself, I prefer loose, high-waisted bottoms whether that be denim, trousers or wide cut pants. I remember forcing myself into low-rise skinny jeans that made me feel insecure and uncomfortable.

Something I do that helps me center my style is to collect images from Instagram, magazines, and other mediums and sift through my favorite looks. Usually, a specific piece is what stands out for me from each image. Next, I create an album on my phone of the screenshots from Instagram and blogs while physical images and magazine clippings are kept in a Ziploc bag safely tucked in my desk drawer. When I feel as though I am being bombarded by mainstream fashion, I refer to my personal fashion collection and determine whether or not the trends really do appeal to me. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of trends I can relate to, but there is a point when your style begins to consist only of commercial trends. Follow these steps and you’ll be more “stylish” than “trendy”!

Own It

There is power in expressing yourself through clothing. The power manifests when you decide what you wear instead of letting others dictate your style. Commercial fashion has stripped away the individual and lumped everyone into one large mass of identical clothing. The consumer has grown afraid of styling a piece in a new way than it was advertised. But isn’t that the point? A piece of clothing has the ability to be used in several ways that craft new and interesting ensembles. I find myself drawn to simple, neutral-toned clothing items. In addition, I love denim and trousers. That is my personal style but it changes frequently depending on my mood and the occasion, which is the point of clothing: to be versatile and adapt to best fit you. So, change it up to your taste and own it!

Catcalling, Hollering, & Disrespect

This is where things get difficult. Catcalling is a prevalent issue in society. There are people who believe that females who dress in a certain way prompt a malicious reaction from onlookers. By donning pieces of clothing deemed sexual or revealing, these people think the individual is to blame, not the catcaller. Some even say the individual is “asking for it” in reference to being hollered at. I’ve never understood this. No individual wishes offensive and crude comments sent in their direction, especially when those comments make them feel violated and in danger.

Let’s talk statistics, shall we? According to a study conducted by iHollaback and Cornell University, 85% of women in the United States report experiencing street harassment before the age of 17. This is not to say that each situation was in response to the way the female was dressed, but in most cases it is a significant factor. Teaching girls that catcalling is a consequence of the way one dresses is yet another way for society to hinder our personal style and dim our creative core. Respect should be universal no matter how you dress. You do not deserve to feel violated for expressing yourself.

The best advice I have been given is to embrace your inner being. Allow your spirit to shine and you’ll see how much more confident in yourself you will feel. I did not accept this advice very easily, but once I did, I noticed my shoulders rise from their timid hunch and my eyes opened to reveal a more vibrant world than I had ever noticed. So, I will conclude with this little piece of advice of my own: Let’s make clothing personal again. Dress for yourself this time.