When looking at a piece from Picasso's blue period, there is more to the picture than just the paint and the image it creates; the work also contains emotion, sorrow, depth and expression. High art is and has always been looked at as a form of personal expression, and music and literature are viewed in a similar manner. Fashion shouldn't be left out.
Clothing is wearable art. Sometimes finding the right fit means more than just finding the right size. Style is about more than just what you wear, it is a personal reflection of who you are. Keeping this in mind, we have to look in the mirror and ask ourselves, who are we really dressing for? What image are we really showing the world?
Advertisers think about this topic all the time. Every ad is designed specifically to appeal to a target market. Can we, as the target audience, be so easily pinpointed? Do we really exhibit personal style and choose clothing that fits who we are? Are we simply destined to choose clothing that fits who we want to be?
Let's take the average Madison female college student as an example. She is smart, dedicated, fun, hopefully a bit adventurous and strong enough not to let a little cold and wind break her down. She is most likely a fan of The North Face or Columbia, a lover of Birkenstocks or UGGs, and a regular at Chipotle or Qdoba. She is all around us, part of each of us, and since stepping foot on campus, we've become more like her than we think.
Conformation is inevitable to some degree. We, as humans, mold and adjust to our surroundings. We are constantly being influenced by the places and people around us; and slowly, without even realizing, we change. But when should we stop ourselves and feel strong enough to hold on to who we are by wearing what we want? Style is a misleading idea, because what we wear is simply a reflection of who we are, or at least, it should be. You wouldn't walk around campus with a mask over your face to hide your identity, so why would you conform to wearing the same clothes as everyone else, denying your individuality? Fashion should be personal and based on who you are, regardless of those around you. We become our own target market, and pinpointing who we are and what we like becomes more difficult.
I have always been interested in fashion because I have always viewed it as so much more than the average person does. What we wear represents who we are. It's our first impression on the world; it defines us, strengthens us and makes us feel beautiful inside and out. Clothing is more than just something tangible. For lack of a better metaphor, it is the window into our spirit, our ideas, our views and our lifestyle, and it is empowering.
Have you ever noticed that sometimes while shopping, you and your friend will like the same shirt? So you both try it on, but it always looks better on one of you. Sometimes, granted, it might be that it just fits one of you better — but other times it has to do with a certain, unacknowledged spark. A moment, when you look in the mirror and think, "Something is right about this," and you feel great. It's that same feeling you get when you meet a great guy.
Clothing is then in a sense like meeting your soul mate. While you know what you're looking for to some extent, it's those unexpected feelings and experiences which help you really understand who you are and what you are really looking for.
Before long, you start to realize that maybe the gorgeous guy your friends keep seeing on the street and talking about isn't your type, despite the fact that he seems to be everyone else's. Maybe that Birkenstock isn't as comfortable as you thought. Maybe you like that yellow scarf even though everyone told you how gross it was. Maybe you realize that even though your whole family is conservative, you're really more of a liberal. And maybe it is at this point in time you start to step back and realize the type of person you want to be, the type of clothing you want to wear and the type of image you want to project to the world.
Isn't it time to step away from the pack and to realize that you don't want to be just another sheep and to make it so you are not easily pinpointed by your demographics, but instead by your psychographics?
A wise man once said, "We are who we choose to be." All right, so actually I got that from "Spiderman," but the sentiment is right. How we dress should reflect how we want to be seen.
People always say that it's not about what's on the outside that counts but what's on the inside. But what if what's on the outside represents and reflects what's on the inside?
Clothing allows us to do this. After all, it's about who you are and how you choose to express that.
Sydney Burdick is a freshman focusing on fashion journalism. Want to discuss the art of personal style with Sydney? Direct your fashion questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.