Imagine walking to the center front of a stage with the spotlight directly beaming on you. Everyone in the audience is watching. Your worse critic is front row. Don’t screw up. You can’t screw up.
A handful of individuals, if not all, have certainly felt like this at some point in their lives. Especially, when deciding what to wear in the morning and having a “mini” breakdown when you can’t find anything to put on.
But why do some stress over what they wear? Is it “just” clothes? Or, do they hold some sort of meaning?
“An outfit is more than just top and bottom. It is who we are when no one is looking, who we are when everyone is looking, and who we are when we’re alone,” says Victoria Cardona, a student from Syracuse University.
Cesar Calixto, a third-year student at John Jay adds, “The way we dress is a way we communicate to others a little of who we are without having to say a word. That’s the beauty of it. We get to wear stuff that speak for us.”
To some, style may revolve around individuality, however, for others it may not. People get bullied and made fun of for looking a particular way, and therefore, the constant pressure of following the crowd is reinforced. Though some fall victim to looking and speaking like their peers as a result, there are others who embrace the stares and the name-calling.
Alaina Leary shares her “Haters Gonna Hate, But I’m Still Gonna Wear Stripped Socks, Tiny Hats and Tutus” story on Seventeen’s website where she reveals her deep love for alternative fashion.
“I did the craziest thing imaginable: I wore what I actually wanted to wear in middle school. I put on my striped socks and layers of colorful bracelets, well knowing that I’d be stared at.”
Although she earned nicknames like “The Tutu Girl” both in middle and high school, Leary did not let it stop her from wearing what she wanted to wear.
“Dressing this way gives me a reason to be excited to get up in the morning, which was one of my original reasons for doing it. It fosters and nurtures my creative spirit, and allows me to utilize my love of visual design on a daily basis,” she says.
The scariest thing may be being afraid to look different than the rest, but as Lauren Conrad, former reality star and designer of Paper Crown, notes in her Style book, “There’s a lot of noise out there, from Dos and Don’ts lists to indexes of What’s Hot and What’s Not. Frankly, it’s nearly impossible to keep track. In my opinion, though, being a real fashion victim has nothing to do with breaking these sorts of rules: It’s trying to dress like someone you’re not.”
To pay attention to what others have to say in school, or not care—that is the question.
Conrad says, “Getting dressed should be fun, because everything we wear says something about who we are—from the pattern on a shirt to the length and color of a skirt. If I could do it [school] over, this would be my motto: Be brave and be different.”
From the minute you wake up to the second you fall asleep, social media is up and running. It plays a significant role in every day life. It even plays a larger role in fashion. Designers, clothing stores, makeup brands, YouTube Gurus, bloggers all use social media because of the enormous impact it has. It is an outlet for inspiration everywhere.
When asked about what she thinks of social media, Stephanie Garcia, known as a style expert to her friends says, “I think social media is awesome. It’s a way for everyone to stay connected and inspire one another. I follow a bunch of bloggers on Instagram and if they post a look that I really love, I’ll try to recreate it with the pieces I have in my own closet.”
When asked about the relationship between bullying and what one wears, Destiny Soriano says, “It’s the 21st century. No one really judges anyone anymore in terms of clothing. People aren’t called “nerds” or “geeks.” The “cool people” are pretty much friends with everyone. These days, it’s all about being open. Respect, too. We respect each other on a level that maybe didn’t even exist before.”
Fashion evokes the meaning of being who you really are, not following the shadows of others. Style is making fashion your own. The real trendsetting is accepting and embracing the differences in everyone standing in front of you.
Soriano adds, “Life is about expressing yourself. It’s about what makes you happy. It’s not caring about what anyone thinks because it’s you who has the power over your body and emotions. Other people don’t have a say. Don’t let them have a say. There’s a reason why you are on this Earth, because you have a purpose and it’s not following what other people do, say, or wear.”