3 Style Rules I Stopped Following In My Twenties, and Thank God
It takes time to figure out what your own individual fashion style is, and it’s pretty easy to lose yourself along the way.
Societal pressures of unrealistic beauty standards and the general inequalities that surround gender and what it means to be (and look like) a woman are enough to truly overwhelm us.
But as we grow more and more into our individuality, we want to be able to embrace what that means for our fashion choices and signature styles. The feeling of being able to say “I’m a hoops girl” or “love me a good platform shoe” is truly exhilarating because those are the moments when we feel like we know ourselves well and can express that.
So, to help you reach your own true individual style, I’m going through three style rules I stopped following in my twenties and why you should, too.
Caring About What Others Will Think
I used to catch myself putting an outfit together based on what I thought the people I was seeing that day would think about it, rather than what I really felt like wearing. It was as though other people’s validation of my outfit was my measure of success on whether or not I looked good, and let me tell you, that mindset is so limiting.
I truly believe you look your best when you feel your best, and you don’t achieve that by dressing for other people. As women, that can be tough to see because we’ve been taught that being aesthetically pleasing (within unrealistic beauty standards) is a measure of our worthiness, when it’s just not.
If you feel as though you still have this mindset, don’t be hard on yourself. It took me years to unlearn these unrealistic standards, and become confident enough to go out in what I wanted to wear, regardless of where I was going or who I was going to see. A lot of that was tied up with wanting to look “attractive”, so I think that working at the core issue — feeling beautiful and powerful and worthy without someone else’s validation — is the best way to get out of the habit of dressing for others.
Dressing for myself was a revelation. Believe me when I tell you that it’s a completely refreshing experience, and it’s one you’ll want to hold onto.
Analysing in the Mirror
A full-length mirror can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s necessary for choosing the perfect shoes for your outfit, but it’s also a trap for over-analysing your outfit, your hair, your make-up… your entire aesthetic.
It’s just like when you start cleaning and realise how many things are actually dirty. Or when you stare at a drawing for long enough that you start to hate it and want to erase everything and start over. If you look at yourself with a super critical eye for too long, you can start to find issues with every little part of your look; even when they’re not there.
Over the years, I’ve learnt how to make my mirror work for me, not against me. I use it to match the right clashing prints, to decide if I want to wear my hair up or down, to tell myself I look fab (positive self talk is everything) and to decide on fun things like accessories. Your mirror isn’t your enemy, it’s literally there to help you look more fashionable.
Matching With My Friends
Do you remember in high school when we would all borrow each other’s clothes and shop from the same websites and bond over the same trends because we were too afraid to like something different? It might’ve just been me, but I always felt so overwhelmed by wanting to look trendy in my early teen years that I struggled to find my own sense of style. But then I discovered op shops.
It took me all of my high school years to accept the fact that I wanted to look different from everyone else. There’s this quote from one of my fave Amanda Bynes movie, What a Girl Wants, that has always stuck with me; “Why are you trying to blend in, when you were born to stand out?”. We’re all born to stand out in our own way. For me, it started by wearing a ’50s style vintage dress to casual day at school, and went up and up from there.
Once I realised the power of standing out and looking different, and I began to feel more comfortable with choosing the things that I liked and wearing them shamelessly, I began to understand the fun of fashion. This is what it’s all about, I remember thinking. It can be easy to dress like your friends, because it’s comfortable and doesn’t open you up for criticism the same way that looking different does. But trust me, looking different is a superpower.