I always find it so interesting that the way we choose to dress can have such a massive impact on the way we are perceived by those around us. Cannot count on two hands the amount of times a person has made a comment about an outfit that seemed to go a bit further than ‘cute top‘ but, in hindsight, had a layer of judgment or a layer of communication that went a bit deeper than the surface of the clothes on my back. It seems our clothes are doing a lot of the talking !
Sometimes it’s a sweet, nonchalant comment by a friend who knows you love a bit of individual style and wants to acknowledge that perhaps you’re a bit daring – “you look like an indie hipster kid from the 90’s”. Result of a pair of cuffed faded jeans, lace up black boots and a quirky knit.
Sometimes it’s uplifting and a confidence boost from a good friend who gets exactly what you were attempting with your outfit; a well put together ensemble that you feel good in can change your mood in a moment – “you’re nailing attempts at off-duty-model chic.” Yes! Achieved the cool, laid back style of my Candice Swanepoel inspiration pic with a long pencil style knit skirt, cropped jumper, aviator jacket and a top knot.
Then there are the comments that seem a little more…..interesting, perhaps invasive and often judgemental – a bit more like these. The odd, “you’re wearing docs, are you a lesbian?” As you can tell, that’s a comment that has struck a chord with me as supremely weird!
Or the time I bumped into an ignorant tourist on a night out who said my somewhat boho desigual dress “offended him”, or, while a little different yet equally alarming….that my passion for fashion and strict adherence to avoid the social taboo of discussing politics over lunch makes me DUMB…because one couldn’t possibly love a good flip through Harper’s and a bit of red lippy AND be intelligent (please note the HEAVY SARCASM)
The way we dress is ‘meant to’ express who we are but at the same time, it can be the chance for the ultimate chameleon moment, exploring different characters or different sides of yourself! This is rarely who we are, maybe who we want to be? Who we think we might be? Most likely, who we’re trying to be! Apparently, it is also who other people think we are. In this modern digital world, it feels like we’ve simultaneously experienced or are experiencing the lives of so many different people, we’ve carved the way through the teenage years of every peg on the social ladder from the sidelines. We know a lot about stereotypes and judgements! We watch the girls of Gossip Girl in New York, we watch the “all Australian girls” of channel 10’s latest reality spin-off The Shire, the old school kids of The OC ….these all seem to be teaching us the way we are ‘expected’ to interact with one another.
Currently sitting on the train, I spy a blonde dressed in all black and the first thing I think is power! Not ‘goth’ or ‘emo’ or any other stereotype that people don’t really understand but similarly jump to without a second thought without reasoning out the facts…but powerful! Why do I think that? Am I projecting onto this innocent bystander my already, age-old conceived notions? Perhaps as a lover of black, I was able to look past the overwhelming initial impression and admire how chic her outfit is. Much more interestingly, am I acutely picking up on her personal projection? Is she, for lack of another word, ‘showing’ me who she is?
The Lady in Black has got me thinking about what I’m projecting when I get dressed and train into uni every morning. So I’ll let you know what I’m wearing and we’ll see if we can work it out…black opaque tights with flat black lace up boots. Moving up we’ve got a dark denim pair of high-waisted shorts synched with a brown woven belt…I’m wearing a cream cable knit cropped jumper, khaki oversized cargo jacket, gold black and silver braided choker necklace, a little silver heart and a high pony…of course I’ve got my port wine red lippy on too…so what do we think ? My inspiration pic is at the top of this post….so obsessed that I wanted to showcase her perfection!… Back to the point of this painstakingly detailed description…What am I ‘showing’? If I’m thinking objectively, perhaps my lipstick is saying ‘boys beware’ – I’ve heard red lipstick is the equivalent of wearing a *?!# off sign on your forehead – but I’ll choose to ignore that. Maybe my high-waisted shorts are a little too – as Leandra Medine would say – man repelling (www.manrepeller.com). Maybe the cropped knit I’m wearing makes me look more conservative granny than on trend. Maybe my high pony suggests an uptight or high maintenance personality. Perhaps my cargo jacket is a little more butch than belle..maybe I’m sending a hundred different conflicting messages when I put on what, to be frank, I just thought was a super cute, fashion forward outfit. What to you guys think? Is there even any way we can track these signals…do we need to?