Have you ever received negative messages about the things that you love? In my life there have been two things that I've received some real negative messages about: style and performance. I'll talk about performance another day but with my wardrobe consultation coming up Thursday, my mind's on style.
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved clothes. I remember my red shirt with the frills down the front, my pink blouse with the ballooning sleeves, my crazy yellow oxfords, my red skater dress with the twirling skirt - all of these I wore in public school. I remember spending hours pouring over pattern books my mom brought home, choosing from each page which sleeve I liked best, which collar, which length, expressing my preferences and honing my taste. Clothing was a daily act of creative self-expression.
I don't just remember how my clothes looked. I remember how I felt in them - both how outfits amped up a particular aspect of my personality and also how they sensually felt against my skin. The mood of a flouncy skirt and sandals was so different from a pencil skirt and heels - and I loved them both. Over time, my changing wardrobe expressed different periods of my life. They represented me as a dancer, as a student, as an artistic director, as a club chick.
It came as a shock to me in grade 7 when I discovered that clothes could also define your status, and that people could use clothes to pigeonhole you. That was antithetical to my take on fashion but it was certainly a popular view. Over time, it also became clear that in many people's view, being concerned with fashion meant that you were materialistic, superficial and quite likely, a snob. And if that wasn't bad enough, we all know the impact that a limited view of beauty has had on the self-esteem and confidence of countless women and girls!
How could I in good conscious love fashion?
I think the answer comes in taking a stand for love. It's crucial to our expression of ourselves that we be allowed to love what we love. Fashion can be a way of expressing our love for colour, for texture, for shape. With fashion we can celebrate our uniqueness, our sexiness, our sensibilities, our sense of humour. Where fashion turns against us is when we let someone else dictate what is loveable and what is not, the latter often being our poor, tender bodies.
So many wonderful things in this world can turn into cages when they're accompanied by 'shoulds.' Fashion, work and life can all become oppressive when we feel we must follow rules that someone else prescribes. And fashion, work and life can be fulfilling and expressive when we define for ourself what is beautiful, what expresses our sensibilities and our spirit.
So, don't be afraid to have style...
By the way, the site I used to come up with my wardrobe inspiration board is Polyvore and it could be a fun way to create a dreamboard. Full Moon Dreamboards are coming up on July 7th. If you're in Toronto, I'm hosting a live Dreamboard Circle on Sunday, July 5th. You can find out more here. You can email me at jamie(at)openthedoor(dot)ca for details or to RSVP.