On Personal Style

How to Find Your Personal style
Jose Romussi
The one thing I've always found annoying about the so-called personal style is also what kept me from developing one myself, namely the conscious decision to label and box up myself and my style.

Why finding your style can be frightening

You see, in my head, as a young adult slowly gaining confidence, maturing, exploring and learning more about myself and the world, the worst thing that I could associate with fashion was having to commit to just one particular style and dress accordingly throughout the years. Hopefully, it's not hard to imagine why. Having just finished school and entered university my identity was under transition with which I was trying to cope, see what exactly it meant, and yes, on the surface find out how it affected my style. Everything was new and scary but equally exciting. The plans I was making all through my school years had come to fruition and at that point, the future seemed more distant and daunting than ever before. I had a new-found freedom and independence, and all I could do was stand before them paralysed as if stung by a giant jellyfish (I'm sure they exist and are invisible otherwise I cannot think why I feel so stunted some days. You've felt them too, I'm sure! Please tell me that you have, or I'll start to worry about my well-being!)

What does all that have got to do with personal style, you ask? For starters, I found committing to one style (in the way I understood it then) rather limiting. A contradiction started forming the minute I started my uni. While I was afraid of that new-found freedom, I was also afraid of being pinned down and tied up, because I knew that I needed to focus on just one thing and to decide what I was going to do for the rest of my life. I had to plan ahead even though I knew that plans don't always work out.

But while I was busy worrying about my future, where my decisions would take me and not wanting to dress in just one manner, I was actually stabilising my identity and guess what else? My style.

What Is Personal Style

You see, there was something I'd gotten all wrong from the get-go. Personal style doesn't equal stagnation as much as having a personality equals being turned into a character/caricature or worse: a symbol! I realised that personal style didn't mean suddenly turning into a cartoon wearing the same outfit day in and out, but that I was in tune with my wants, my likes and my many different facets. From my moods to the parts of myself that I wanted or had to express each day and on a variety of occasions, they all had a say in what I wore and my outfits were never the same. My personal style was forming, though. Slowly but steadily I knew by instinct what was "me" and what wasn't.

Now, I don't feel odd wearing something unflattering some days. On others, I love feeling like a kid in my dungarees in the morning and slipping into something feminine in the evening for a rare night-out.

The Anxiety of Influence

If there's one thing, personal style is, that's a process. It's not wanting to copy someone's else's style down to a T but allowing yourself to take inspiration and get creative with it: mix it with yours, see whether it works and own it. On each person, the same style is revitalised. I don't know; perhaps there's no parthenogenesis in style either, but I'm sure we've all seen two women wearing the same thing and looking completely different. I'm also positive we've seen two women looking exactly the same in an identical garment. I propose, then, that it's not due to the clothes but it depends on the person wearing it. When we're comfortable and confident in what we're wearing; if it speaks to us and represents us, we can shine through it. If not, we're in danger of letting it take over us and wiping us out. (It's all sounding very sci-fi, I know. It'd probably make a good movie: "Alien dress takes control of a human woman. Detachment is nearly impossible. Approach with utmost caution. The host can be taken over totally after just one week. Spread the word! Special forces will be there to help.")

The Path to Finding Your Personal Style

My path to finding my personal style had always been bumpy. You don't want to know how many people (fictional and non-fictional) I've tried to emulate through the years and especially during those awfully awkward teenage years. Cringe. Don't remind me I have shudders just thinking about them. It's during those years when many girls ( I'm talking from my POV alone; I'm sure there are many others) realise we want to be and will soon be fully-fledged women but a) we don't know if we actually want to commit and be one yet and b) we've got no bloody idea how to go about it.

I shamefully confess at having copied Hermione's look head to toe from the 4th film. It was the one she'd been wearing during the World Quidditch Cup. Even now, I can visualise it crystally clear: it was a pink polo neck t-shirt with a beige jacket on top which incidentally did not go well with my skin tone. The bottom half consisted of dark jeans and trainers.

There was also the time when I was obsessed with having Kate's from "Lost" look. She was just so cool, man! She was brave and a badass and could kick some serious arse. All the guys were drooling over her which raised her in my eyes even more. As I said: teenage years. It's no wonder I wanted to be her! (What do you mean you don't transform into others when you wear their clothes? Sometimes it's "wear it till you make it", though.) So, there I was, having at least two baggy, low-cut khakis with multiple roomy pockets where I could fit all my knives and...You got me that was Kate. I was keeping my gums and my pocket-money in them. I had tees and vests in every colour imaginable, too. They were all quite neutral, though. Maybe some greens too. I'd also bought a pair of those big skater shoes that are supposed to be worn loose, but I wouldn't let them untied, which defeated their whole purpose.

Another time, I was really into Blair Waldorf's style, but that was just so farfetched that my whole effort of copying her style consisted of me buying a fancy black hairband from Accessorize which I proceeded to wear exactly zero times.

Ultimately, knowing our voice and being able to hear it loud and clear over all the other ones shouting at us every day from fashion magazines, Pinterest boards and ads, is all personal style is, in my opinion at least. Influence is inevitable, but when you have a sense of what truly grabs you and gets you, then all that noise will be so much more illuminating than anxiety-inducing. And most importantly, personal style isn't something to be feared. It's all about semantics if you will. We've already got it and we've just got to let it shine.

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