Jeans and t-shirts defined my elementary school wardrobe, at least when I had a say. When I didn’t. Long denim skirts, pink jackets, hats with patchwork, tights with cool patterns, all aided in creating my fashionista persona. The one my mom had a hand in. See, my mother has a great sense of style, but during my formative years, this was lost on me. I only cared about my clothes when I picked them out. This is probably why by fourth grade more than half of my wardrobe consisted of clothes from Justice. Anyone else remember the sweatshirts with their signature monkey emblazoned on the front? To me, wearing those or any shirt with glitter equaled fashion icon status.
I only cared about my clothes when I picked them out.
Although my mom and I did not see eye to eye on my fashion choices as a kid, later on, she did admit that she appreciated the fact that I had my own sense of style. Her warming up to me solely wanting to wear jeans worked out in the end because jeans continued to be a signature part of my wardrobe throughout middle school as well, just with a bit of a twist. As a middle schooler I was tall, lanky, and of course, going through that phase of puberty where I was becoming more concerned about how I looked. In the midst of this that part of me who thrived in elementary school when she had the chance to wear what she wanted never went away. This led to me going through a long (maybe too long) part of life where I wore neon-colored skinny jeans and very large graphic t-shirts.
The reason why I went through this skinny-jean stage was because of my older sister. I personally don’t think it’s talked about enough how much little sisters want their older sisters’ approval. Sure, you see the stereotypes on television when the little sister begs to hang out with her older sister, but in real life, things go much deeper than that. For me, things went so deep that I started to shop at Hot Topic. Yes, the store that as a child surely everyone tries not to look directly into the window for fear of making eye contact with one of the workers.
I still remember the moment I was allowed to buy skinny jeans from Hot Topic. I felt undeniably cool.
You have to hear me out here. I was a naive middle schooler, a tween, who wanted her older sister to think she was cool, and my older sister and her friends just so happened to frequent Hot Topic in high school instead of Hollister or Abercrombie & Fitch. Buying shirts with pop-art Supermans on the front and Disney characters looking “edgy” while outlined in neon colors became the norm. I still remember the moment I was allowed to buy skinny jeans from Hot Topic. The look, feel, and smell of them sticks with me. I felt undeniably cool.
Then in high school, my style started to change again. I was beginning to dress how my mother wanted me to as a kid. Jeans were interspersed into my wardrobe throughout the four years, but this time around they were all purchased from American Eagle. I soon started to stray away from my tomboy nature and found myself wanting to wear skirts and dresses.
It was a time of branching out and finding my style while actually being seen as fashionable.
As the years went on my body started to change, much to my chagrin. I was developing curves and beginning to gain weight in areas I hadn’t before. It was an unwelcome surprise but one that actually pushed me to start dressing differently. I began the journey of shopping in Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, Brandy Melville, and Garage. All the stores that let me find clothing that was cute and trendy. Velvet and denim miniskirts, crop tops, ripped jeans. All of this together made up my high school wardrobe. It was a time of branching out and finding my style while actually being seen as fashionable.
In college, I did a complete 180 where jeans were no longer part of my wardrobe. Even now I only have one pair that I actually wear. College became the skirts, dresses, culottes, and wide-leg pants era. I shopped at Zara, Nordstrom, Madewell, Target, and H&M among other stores, to settle into this next chapter. People who met me in college were literally in shock if I wore jeans, it was that uncommon. I definitely felt the girliest I ever had, but more importantly, I felt as though I actually had my own distinctive style. One day my friend even said she expected me to always be wearing a t-shirt and a funky skirt. Certain parts of my wardrobe were becoming staples. It was a good feeling.
People who met me in college were literally in shock if I wore jeans, it was that uncommon. I definitely felt the girliest I ever had, but more importantly, I felt as though I actually had my own distinctive style.
Clothes are representative of certain times in our lives. For me, my clothing choices tend to reflect how I’m feeling about myself or a change in my mindset. During my formative years, I learned to put my foot down and stick with what I wanted to wear. In middle school, there was less worrying and more embracing the chance to wear what I found in stylish. Then in high school, I had to balance growing up and figuring out a style that could fit this “new” me. By the time college rolled around, I felt confident in my own skin and that showed through my clothing. My personal style journey has been an integral part of life, and I hope it never truly ends.