I remember being freshly 21 and wanting to look exactly like her. It doesn’t really matter who she is because I feel like she’s a common thread amongst us women: that girl, who is just so cool, effortlessly so, the girl we just want to be like.
I didn’t necessarily have coolness or any idea who I was, but I did have a credit card, and time, so that was an equation for getting what I wanted right? I strove to be her, but my own kind of her: her shaken not stirred. Her, but with my own twist. Her, but from afar. And I tried. I tried literally everything to be her. I bought the things she had and tried to wear my hair like she did. She just seemed cool. And here. Present in her own life, present enough not to notice little me. Trying to nail done my topknot and breathe life into a pair of Doc Martens that on her looked…perfect.
I tried for enough months to burn out both my closet and my card. There’s nothing worse than being in debt for a bunch of things that lost their sparkle the minute you try them on. I’ve written about trying to find myself under the guise of various subjects: drinking, relationships, sex, abuse, and now…fashion.
I don’t really know what inspired me to look at this topic from this point of view. Out right, maybe it doesn’t make great fashion blog content, but I think when you really let it air out for a bit, you start to see the commonality of it: getting dressed should be a way to access something very personal, but how do you get dressed without first finding inspiration in someone else? I guess people do, but maybe they do it less for themselves and more for her and some people are just better at disguising themselves in their “me-ness.” I know I wasn’t. I failed at dressing like myself for many years. I chose to dress like a carbon-copy of my peers: oversized flannel, denim from Urban Outfitters, an air about me that said, “Oh this? This I just threw on.”
I wrote about the myth of effortless dressing here, but I think the question goes deeper than that. I really want to know, does anyone just dress like themselves first? I mean even my mother said that when she used to dress me in my cute little floral dresses and pull my hair into pigtails it was because that’s just how the other kid’s dressed. There’s no real originality anymore. Who was it who said, “everything is just a copy of something else?” When it comes to art there’s a well-known book called, Steal Like An Artist. My question: why isn’t there a book called, Steal Like A Fashion Blogger? I guess, because we all do it. It’s not hard to see.
Take Instagram for fashion bloggers: if you take a sample of say 5 fashion bloggers, inevitably, they’ll be wearing one or two of the same items, even prefacing their posts or stories with “you’ve probably seen this everywhere.” I’m guilty of it too! Who doesn’t want to be on trend? And the pressure is doubled when you’re professing that you’re a style blogger. How the heck do I get dressed and not feel like I’m semi-stealing someone else’s look when I’ve bought the exact thing they’re wearing. It’s come to a point where sometimes when I get dressed in the morning, I have so much trouble separating whether in fact I’m wearing something because I want to or because I saw it online. That’s crazy! I did have a thrifting stint, where I wanted to dress differently and more uniquely, unburdened by social media, but even then I’d check out what my favorite thrifting ladies were pulling out. There’s almost no way to escape it and maybe, it’s not such a bad thing.
Obviously, inspiration is really important. Having mentors is basically the only way I’ve survived in my writing career. If I read something I love, I know I can write something I love too. It just makes sense in my brain. I have a harder time when it comes to dressing and investing in items I love. It’s almost want vs. need. I want the fancy handbag, but what I actually need is something practical to throw a book in and not care if it gets dirty. Yet, I fight that. Because I don’t feel the same kind of satisfaction or adrenaline rush as I do when I make a big purchase and feel like I finally fit in. I think that’s a huge problem.
As an older sister, I feel like I need to commit to paving the way for my younger sister, and all the females between her and me who struggle with what it means to embrace who they are. Because the truth is: you’re never going to be her. She was born that way. The silver-lining? So were you.