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.


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