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Thoughts On Becoming


*my collage
A lot of time we have this perception that people who we admire (stylistically) always look that good--there was no ugly duckling stage, there are no bags under the eyes in the morning. This is usually false. Celebrities spend hours in hair and makeup before they walk a red carpet. Even your best friend who can roll out of bed throw on some mascara and whatever clothes that are lying on her floor and look fantastic still spent awhile picking out that random assortment of clothes, selecting her low-maintence hair style which involves layers, low lights and highlights, and goes to bed every night after a strict skin regime she learned from her mother in her formative years. It's just one illustration of the idea: swans aren't made overnight. But while we usually know this to be true, we don't always talk about the process of becoming. How do you find your personal style? How do you get comfortable in the clothes you like on others? How long does it take? Today's post was sparked by a recent question I received, because as a lot of people know figuring out my style and being comfortable in my own skin was definitely not an overnight or easy sensation for me!

Part of being photogenic is being comfortable in front of the camera. Part of looking good in your clothes is being comfortable in them. But these sorts of things rarely happen overnight. I've written a little on this topic before, like my tip of trying on thing at a time when developing personal style or learning to listen to your inner voice and stop hearing others when you're experimenting with style. But there are numerous other little tricks or practices I went through when figuring out my own style. Even when I figured out how I wanted to look it still took years to gradually change my wardrobe from jeans and tee shirts to an extensive collection of dresses I feel comfortable throwing on. Since I didn't start wearing makeup until my senior year of high school it took awhile to learn how to apply eyeliner and feel comfortable in lipstick. It might just seem like a small swipe of red lipstick to a stranger, but to someone un-used to it red lipstick can feel like wearing a neon sign on your face.

I spent months watching French New Wave films and couldn't get over Anna Karina's face in A Woman Is A Woman; I wanted blue eye shadow, winged eyeliner, and scarlet lips but felt like a clown when I wore any of those things alone let alone combined. To get comfortable in vivid red lipstick in a sea of nude lips, I would apply my lipstick an hour before I left my dorm room. By the time I walked out the door I had usually forgotten it was on or gotten more comfortable with the feeling of it on my lips (sort of like how you learn to sit different with skirts than jeans). I did the same thing when I started to wear heels--I always wore them around the house before I wore them out; I find when I'm cooking is the best time to get comfortable in them because there are always so many steps back and forth between cabinets and the fridge and oven and heels help you reach things on the top shelves! Feel uncomfortable in dresses? Wear bike shorts underneath in case you don't always "sit like lady" (because who does?).

I also feel developing a personal style is a constant process. What clothes we feel comfortable in changes over time, how we want to look progresses through the years. Some days I still feel self-conscious wearing red lipstick (and I still get it on my teeth, ugh) and some days dresses I thought I'd be wearing for years suddenly feel too immature to wear. I still admire Anna Karina's style and can't imagine a day without winged eyeliner, but my preferences for shoes are shifting from chunky heels to cleaner lines. If our clothes are not just pieces of fabric we use to cover our nakedness but reflections of our desires and interests then the clothes we gravitate to will be constantly changing as we age and our interests develop because we are always becoming.

9 comments:

Shawna said...

Great post and so true. I love your description of feeling like you are wearing a neon sign on your face. I am 46 years old and still feel odd in bright or dark lipstick. But I think that's a sign that it just isn't me. I wear very little makeup and that is what works for me. Sometimes what I like the look of doesn't translate well onto my body. I love the multi-layered boho look but it just makes me look fat and I really find that piling on the necklaces or bracelets is impractical. So I'm coming up with my own sort of boho, because I am definitely bohemian. It's always a work in progress and I hope I am neer finished.

Sonya Mann said...

I feel encouraged by this post. Becoming really is a life-long process. . . Personally, I find that the best thing I can do is be kind and easy on myself.

Alyssa said...

I really enjoyed reading this post! I feel like I identify with many of your sentiments, and I h ope people take the time to read this one. :)

Mint Julep said...

This is quite interesting, as I tend o dwell on this same subject many a time. From the time I was 14 I knew exactly what I wanted to look like: a weirdo dressed in black, with leather and lace, very much in what I saw as a vampiric aesthetic. It was a look easy enough to acomplish, but I did notice that over time and over my own growth as a person, I would shift some things, and I would always be in touch with the fashion trends - despite maintaining that base look all the time. I dropped the gothic vampire trend a few years ago, but noticed recently that I am once again going back to it... so do we evolve, or do we go back to the past??
http://fashionfauxpas-mintjulep.blogspot.com

-Adrienne said...

I love the idea that we are always evolving and changing our style. I call myself a Romantic Eclectic, so even from one day to another I feel like how I want to dress changes. I read your other posts that you mentioned, and I like the trying one thing at a time. I'm in the transition from jeans everyday to trying to add more high waisted skirts. Love your blog!!

Manja said...

I totally, wholeheartedly agree with you! I am 26 now and my style is in full evolving-mode right now. When I started college, I wore a lot of vintage dresses, quirky necklaces and hats. But now I am really more drawn to the clean, Scandinavian style with Slim Pants, knits and chunky necklaces. Most of my old clothes don't really feel like 'me' any more. It's refreshing to hear that I am not the only one whose style changes and evolves so much. But I guess it's a normal thing and my style will probably still be evolving and changing in 10 years ;)

MarieBayArea said...

So true Rebecca. When it comes to personal style, we are always becoming.

Iris said...

Hero :')

Romina-Santana-Art said...

I love this post, since I can relate it so much . In my early teen years I was terribly shy and couldn´t feel comfortably in my body at all. I used to dress in tomboy and baggy clothes, eventhough I always envied a very femenine and romantic aesthetic. Luckily, over the years and with a lot of phsyical and psicological work, I am now in my 20s I have grown to develop my personal style and I can say I have more than ten skirts in my closet which I wear daily and only some few fitted jeans =) It still takes me courage to go out to the street in a red lipstick too(or sometimes a miniskirt), when in my city having a girly aesthethic in far from the norm. Sometimes I even get rather rude comments such as why I am overdressed for class or work. But, other times I get very possitive ones that keeps me trying to stay true to myself, wether is wearing something rather extravagant or a simple combination of jeans and boots like everyboy else. I think part of being who you are and representing the person you truly want to be is also the joy with sharing your true self to others, and that is really nice!