My mom used to tell me, “look nice … look your best … dress to impress … it will make you feel good”. Of course I didn’t want to hear any of that. I wanted to rebel against society’s notion of what a “proper” man or woman should be wearing. It was the stodgy, stuffy old adults who wore that stuff. I wanted to be fun and free and I did not care one bit what anyone thought of what I was wearing. In fact, I used clothing as a shield … to present an “image” … and to get a reaction out of all those old fuddy duddies. I stayed in this smug little fantasy land a lot longer than some.
Here’s the thing though - I learned that fashion could still be a shield of sorts and it certainly can present an image to the world, but what previously didn’t click into place for me is that unfortunately society is not on the same page of “creative expression” with me and the majority of people will make judgements on you and decide how to treat you based on your appearance alone. It’s a shitty reality to be sure but it’s reality nonetheless.
I lucked out in that I make a living being creative. The creative industry is large and most people give those employed in creative fields a little leeway. It’s like how if you’re an artist or in a rock band, people can give you a pass to be more creative with your appearance and fashion choices simply because you are a working creative. But, not everyone can be in a creative field. Tons of people have boring office or service jobs, so how do they get away with it? Well, if you’re stuck wearing a uniform or at a place with a lot of guidelines, you really can’t, but that’s only 8 hours of your day. Maybe you had a purple mohawk at one point in time and really got into expressing your “individuality” through your appearance. Don’t lose hope that you can never have that again and you’re just going to grow old and boring.
Here’s what I’ve found out. It’s simply a matter of combining favorite, creative clothing and accessories with the traditional stuff. There’s some really interesting things happening in wide-spread fashion right now. It’s okay to wear bright red skinny jeans, or plaid pants by combining them with other pieces. Colors and patterns seem to be infiltrating the main stream along with other previously “too punk rock” items like moto jackets and leather boots with buckles. It might take you some experimentation to get the mix right, but it can happen. A general guideline is only do 1 or 2 of the really creative stuff per outfit … or get creative with accessories … or find so-called traditional pieces that have a little bit of flair to them (cool pattern button downs, non-boring blazers, interesting scarves, etc. etc.). It’s just a matter of not going overboard because too much of a good thing is, well, too much. Remember that an awesome, put-together outfit can be just as “fierce” as your old leather jacket with the misfits skull and the spikes.
Obviously I’m not speaking to the people who are perfectly happy wearing Dockers pleated pants with a plain oxford shirt, a woven belt, penny loafers and a sweater with the arms tied around their necks. Those people are fine doing with what they’re doing. And they’re not going to step out of their box anytime soon, so we don’t need to give them a second thought. But for those of us who have already been way outside the box and find an outfit like that soul-suckingly boring, there’s an alternative that won’t engage the rest of society to frown on you or treat you like a “punk kid”.
Keep following along and I’ll keep posting inspiration and ideas on how to make this work.