Growing into my own: Style ain’t shallow, you hear?

I definitely didn’t use to have a sense of style.

I grew up lip syncing to Beyonce with my sisters and playing king of the hill with the boys in our neighborhood. I grew up loving all things Lisa Frank and riding bikes in our back driveway. I grew up cheerleading and playing basketball. I wasn’t a girly girl per se, nor was I tomboy either. I was just a kid, through and through. Simple as that. I’m not like other bloggers who will gush to you about playing dress up their entire lives. My identity has never been based solely on my clothing. It still isn’t. But, it’s become a huge part of who I am.

Having ‘style’ is something very new for me. Literally I’m still surprised when I get comments from my friends saying ‘this outfit made me think of you’ and ‘this sweater is very Katie Hagan’ and ‘I wish you could be my stylist’. In my head I’m always like, are you sure about that? Are you messing with me? You see, I was never that friend growing up. I was never the one with style. Sure, I wore what was ‘fashionable’ for people my age, but never did I have style. (Note: Style and fashion are not the same. Although, they are related. More on that later.)

I’m blessed in the sense that I had very nice clothing and accessories growing up. I am not denying that. But overall, I dressed the way everyone else did. If you look back on photos of me in high school, you’ll see I only wore Hollister and other mainstream brands. Not because that was my personal style, but because it’s what ‘everyone else’ was wearing. When you’re young, it’s so so so difficult to think for yourself and be your own person.

That goes for mostly everyone that is, except for one particular person in my life. I used to have a really good friend who found her personal style while many of us were still begging our moms for Abercrombie & Fitch. She shopped at Urban before it was cool, always wore unique outfit combos, and completely stood out from the crowd because of it all.

I remember so many girls not being about the way she dressed. And I’m honestly so guilty of not standing up for her as much as I should’ve. But let me tell you this, once everyone grew out of the Hollister stage they were all coveting her looks and style. Including myself. I always found myself digging through her clothes that she was about to send off to Plato’s Closet begging her if I could keep this or that (not realizing that it meant she’d lose out on cash…).

She was the friend that to this day I would think, ‘this outfit is so her’.

We eventually grew apart, but no doubt she left an impact on me. I credit her for my pursuit of personal style. Anytime I feel out of place for not wearing, say a bodycon outfit and a choker, I still think back to how she never tried to blend in. She wore what she loved, what was comfortable for her, and never let our little corner of the world’s lack of style negatively affect her impeccable style. That’s motivated me to do the same.

So you see, I’m not someone who follows all the trends. I’m not someone who will be wearing the newest brands or items all the time. I’m someone who is wearing clothing that makes her feel herself. I adore feeling comfortable in my own skin, even if that means wearing a top knot and an oversized sweater one day and dressing over the top the following day. Clothing for me, is my mood ring. How I dress on any given day says a lot about what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. My clothing choices change regularly and I used to be so self conscious about it. Now I don’t, hence this blog.

Some Saturdays I look like I came straight out of New England. I’ve had people try to make fun of me for my preppier outfit choices. Some weekdays I’ll wear a men’s sweater to work rather than a fitted blouse. I’ve had people try to make fun of me for not always dressing the most feminine. One day I’ll dress athletic, and the next maybe I’ll be all boho. That’s just me. The more I’ve come into my own and just rock whatever the hell I put on, the more comfortable I became. I finally started to feel myself.

I’m finally at a point in my life where I understand who I want to be and how I dress has a huge part in that. That’s why I chose to incorporate my personal style into my blog. Not because I’m shallow or trying to be instafamous. Becoming comfortable with what I wear, who I am, and what I’m doing is a huge feat. Hopefully, one day you’ll find yourself in the same place. And if I can help you get there, damn it that would make me so happy.

Style goes much deeper than the surface. Whereas fashion? Not so much. Fashion is what’s on trend at any given moment. It’s impermanent and fleeting. Style is when someone can say “that’s so you” because it aligns with who you are.

How I dress and style myself is now an ingrained part of who I am thanks to the many women who have inspired me to come into my own. My old friend included. The others will surely be mentioned down the line in this blog. Stay tuned to hear about them all and their profound impact. 💕

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