Why is it that 14-year-old me decided to wear that slogan covered T-shirt paired with that fake juicy couture fuchsia bag, straighten my poor hair to death and wear disproportionately tight jeans? I’d like to think that the way I dress today has evolved significantly since then.
The trials and tribulations of my younger self’s image are pretty laughable, but I know that I’m not alone in feeling the waves of embarrassment roll in when a friend *insensitively* decides to whip out photo montages from a time I would like to, well maybe not erase completely, but at least push to the very periphery of my self-evolution timeline. That being said, I do remember feeling truly content in the clothes that I wore, in fact I would like some of that unapologetic confidence back now, and this got me thinking – how is it that our fashion sense develops so much throughout our lives into what we deem appropriate to wear today?
It seems to me that the way I feel when I catch glimpses of my younger self’s misguided style habits is similar to my reaction when I hear my family reminiscing over articulation blips I ran into as a kid. Both usually spark an unprotesting shake of the head, growing up seems to inevitably entail such blunders. Our grasp of language and our understanding of fashion evolve significantly as we mature - So, is our sartorial journey somewhat analogous to our language development?
Partly through active learning, partly through idle assimilation, we gradually learn how to best articulate ourselves through words by developing different speaking patterns and accumulating huge banks of vocabulary, stored away and ready to be used at a moment’s notice. What we choose to say depends hugely on context – who we’re talking to, where we are – however, it takes time to recognise which environments warrant which tone. In the same way we progressively learn how to clearly articulate ourselves through language, we gradually learn how to cultivate our wardrobes to most efficiently convey what sentiment it is that we want to express via this silent medium.
We master the skill of language the more we are exposed to it, we learn which components create an eloquent sentence and how to use particular words to make an impact or to convey a certain point. Fashion is the same. We slowly learn which garments fit together to showcase the impression we’re after, we recognise what works and what doesn’t. Just like we know which combinations of words tend to complement each other, we attain an inherent grasp of which patterns and styles flatter our bodies and make us feel the best.
Still, there is always room for growth. I feel as though my fashion tastes change from one day to the next, and this constant need to reinvigorate my wardrobe to present myself in different ways ties into an ever-growing yearning to continue cultivating my style. There are, undoubtedly, stylistic boundaries that I have yet to confront. I don’t think I’d have the confidence, nor the desire as of yet, to wear a floor length polka dotted dress, I usually steer clear of V-necks and I’m never quite at ease in overly tight clothing. It’s interesting to consider this in light of Adam Philip’s thought that, “the words we never use might be like the clothes we can never wear”, however maybe one day the message that I want to transmit to my external environment will be one which is entirely different to the sentiments I stand by today.
Part of the reason why fashion excites me so much is because, even though my style has inevitably transformed a million times over since I was younger, the world of sartorial expression still makes me feel like a little kid given free reign at a pick ‘n mix. I look out at the fashion industry’s far-stretching horizon and see an unlimited scope to experiment and evolve with. I may be much more fluent in my style than I was a few years back, but I still have a lot more to say.
Graphic Mia Jaccarini