Styling Against Stereotypes

What to wear? It’s a question that stumbles into our heads each time we struggle to decide on an outfit. Clothes are an important aspect of our lives. They demonstrate who you are and what you are interested in. Style is the unique way in which you choose to dress. As time continues, fashion and trends shapeshift into different things, which leads to judgement when you aren’t following the current trend.

Nowadays, what’s in-style is decided by a group of elite YouTubers and influencers. One in particular that comes into my mind is Emma Chamberlain, a quirky and relatable YouTuber who focuses on finding unique and vintage pieces to style and immerse into her wardrobe. As a result, she’s managed to put sweater vests, yoga pants and turtlenecks back into the closets of many. Additionally, Chamberlain is known for her taste in clothing that is not overtly “feminine.” This led me to reimagine my own manner of dressing.

From old hag to trendy slob

I used to dress in a very respectful and conservative manner. I would choose blouses over tees, dress pants over jeans and close-toed ballet flats over sneakers. I wanted to make sure I looked more mature and realized too late that I was only a teenager. After my first year at UF, I began to transition my wardrobe to a more feminine, cute and “adult-ish” style. This didn’t last long, as the grueling time it took to look all petite and pretty took away from a few extra hours of sleep. It became apparent as the pandemic commenced that I should value my comfort over anything else. This thought process led to my current wardrobe, one filled with big T-shirts, oversized hoodies and baggy jeans.

Over-sized, not over-styled

One aspect of this new trend is the simplicity of wearing typically masculine clothes. An outfit in this style includes a large shirt, baggy jeans of some sort, sneakers, a chain and the optional belt or bucket hat. The shirts can go from plain and basic tees to those that showcase your favorite shows or movies. Personally, my Avatar: The Last Airbender shirt is my prized possession. When you live in a state as hot as Florida, baggy T-shirts allow your skin the space to breathe and not be constrained. Also, if you’re interested in creating an entirely thrifted wardrobe, the best place to start is by expanding your T-shirt collection.

There are times when this style might be deemed as trying too hard to fit the mold that is currently “on trend,” but it might be a great way for you to explore your interests.

Style, not sexuality

This issue is one I face frequently: People tend to assume my sexuality due to the manner in which I dress. For example, this occurs at family parties, where I will choose to wear the outfits I feel most comfortable in and they are automatically labeled “too masculine.” I am constantly pestered and told to dress more feminine, because “guys do not want to date girls who dress like them.” Even so, I don’t dress with the thought of mimicking what a guy is supposed to be or what he is supposed to wear. I wear what makes me feel comfortable and what I find interesting or cute.

Why can’t baggy jeans be seen as cute? Why must we put such an emphasis on the gender of clothes? Clothes are meant to be extensions of our inner selves, yet we mimic those around us in order to fit in. We judge those who march to the beat of their own drum. Instead of highlighting what we expect others to wear, we should applaud those who follow their own manner of dressing, individuals who see past the societal stereotypes attached to a piece of clothing.

Overall, I truly will not change the way I dress to fit or go against the expectations placed on me by society. If wearing “masculine clothing” deters those around me from seeing me as a woman, then so be it. The most important thing is that I choose clothes that show who I am, not who I am trying to be, and that I don’t use pieces of clothing to arm myself against the prejudices of society. Someone should respect me not because of what I am wearing, but for the confidence it takes to wear what I want.