There’s this quote that I love from Diana Vreeland about style:
" It helps you get down the stairs. It helps you get up in the morning. It’s a way of life. Without it, you’re nobody. I’m not talking about lots of clothes. "
While my style evolution has, unfortunately, still not helped me overcome the boundary of stairs, the way I dress myself has undoubtedly played a role in helping me understand who I am, and who I want to be. It’s the same way that what I do with my time, the words I say, the things I write, and my every other action shapes my identity and sense of self. Sometimes I feel that style boils down to making decisions—decisions about how you want to present yourself to and experience the world. It’s work, but I believe that being conscious of your own presence is important, and thinking purposefully about what you put forth into the world is valuable work to do.
It has very little to do with the clothes you wear, and perhaps more to do with the energy and attitude you carry, which can be so influenced by how you’re dressed. For me personally, clothes are also a very unique opportunity to feel tangibly connected to a physical world that presents many boundaries for me. I make a point to buy as much of my wardrobe as possible from thrift stores or sites like Depop, for environmental sustainability reasons, but also because garments with backstory interest me more so than garments I simply find beautiful. I love wearing things that I know others have worn, and constructing stories about them in my head that I imagine my experiences add to or build on.
I actually remember exactly when my interest in fashion began—when after school activities ceased to consist of animal crackers and naps and became soccer practice and dance rehearsal, my adolescent self encountered a very isolating conundrum. I couldn’t participate in any of these physically demanding activities, and my interest in drawing and painting didn’t exactly provide the supportive community that my friends enjoyed through their sports teams. By the grace of some higher power, the solution to my isolation presented itself shortly after I received my first laptop for Christmas, when my world was forever changed by a virtual space called Bloglovin’.
Each day after school, I signed into my account to see what had been posted that day on The Blonde Salad, PeaceLoveShea, Man Repeller, or Into the Gloss. These blogs were more to me than just websites, they were a support system. They provided a wealth of confidence I drew from when I rolled into my high school classrooms each day in dramatic winged liner, vibrant shades of lipstick, fedoras, and fur vests (and thankfully, they’ve guided my style evolution since then). I felt so empowered by the women who ran these blogs, that I even taught myself how to create a website from scratch and designed my own—which is tragically gone now, since my tween self forgot to renew my domain name.
Every 14 year old is self-conscious about their appearance, the changes their body is undergoing, the pressure to fit in with their peers—let alone being the only kid in school in a wheelchair. The 300 pound hunk of metal that I throne daily never gave me the opportunity to blend in and with everyone else around me, and, at 14, the fashion blogosphere took my hand and showed me how to embrace that facet of my life as my boldest, most coveted accessory.