Fashion. What is the first thing that come to mind when you hear that word? Do you immediately picture anorexic models wearing attire that looks like it was compiled from the rubble left by a tornado? Or maybe you think of beautiful but cost-prohibitive clothes that honestly only fit a size 2? If either of these is your first thought that you have completely missed the point of fashion. While on a secondary level fashion is about labels and fabrics and cuts, on a primary level fashion is about passion. Fashion is your personal statement on how you view the world, yourself, and what makes you happy. Fashion is meant to be an expression of what is inside a person, rather than an external attempt to conform to a movement or standard.
So if you accept this idea that fashion is your own personal statement to the world, then you're probably confused. How do you decide how to make your statement? And then what is the point of fashion shows and magazines if everyone is different? Those are very poignant questions to a discussion such as ours. For us to properly answer those questions we must realize that fashion is a two-sided coin. On one side you have the artists and designers, and on the other side you have the buyers.
Let's start with the artists and designers. For these people a large part of their statement to the world is portrayed in their art. Each garment and each accessory is a word in a story that tells who they are and what they're passionate about. They create with the their minds but they include a piece of their heart into each item. Then they sent it forth in hopes that it will speak to someone along it's journey and give them a portion of the joy it afforded it's creator upon it's inception.
That brings us to you - the buyer. Fashion should never be daunting. If it is, you're doing something wrong. You know you're doing it right when you love every piece in your closet and you feel like a better person when you wear them. So let's set some ground rules.
1. Clothing is never neutral. It always sends a message.
2. Don't ever be ashamed of wearing something you love.
3. Don't try to completely imitate anyone. Take ideas but be yourself.
4. If a garment is in good shape and it looks good on you, don't feel the need to discard it just because it is old.
5. Figure out what colors look good on you. They may not be what you are used to buying. Websites like http://www.seventeen.com/fun/quizzes/beauty/skin-tone-quiz and http://womens-fashion.lovetoknow.com/What_Colors_Look_Good_on_Me can help.
6. Take someone shopping with you. A second pair of honest eyes never hurt anyone. Make sure they always check garments on you from the back as well.
7. Don't feel the need to pick one style. Be classic on Monday, artsy on Tuesday, preppy on Wednesday, a little punk on Thursday, and bohemian on Friday. If you're showing off all the sides of your personality it means you're doing something right!
So with those rules in mind, start from the beginning. Figure out your coloring and your body shape, then grab your BFF and go shopping. Go to the mall. Go to Barnes and Noble and look at magazines and sip lattes. This is where the magazines come in. (Remember our questions?) The magazines are compiled by artists to help you fall in love and shout "that's me!" to the entire world. Gather ideas (you can never have too many!) but imitate no one. It may take some finding, but you do have your own stylistic voice. Use it! You may find it in your closet, or you mind it in Vogue, or at the mall. Just don't give up looking. It's fine for your clothes to say, "I don't care" if that is indeed your personal statement. But don't let your clothes say, "I don't care" merely because you are to scared or ignorant to do anything different. Think through the message of every garment and accessory and say, "Is this really what I want people to know about me?" Our individuality is part of what makes life so beautiful, so embrace it. Embrace who you were created to be, rather than letting anyone or anything dictate it to you. Fashion should never be scary or inaccessible. Fashion is fun. Fashion is power. Fashion is art. Fashion is passion.
"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening." - Coco Chanel
"Be yourself. Everyone else is taken." - Oscar Wilde