Staying True to Your Personal Style (and Sticking It to the Copycats)
We don’t have a uniform at my school, but you’d never know that--because all the girls dress alike. Everyone wears the same thing, except for me. They like to shop at places like Forever21; I like to go to thrift stores. I even have a whole stash of stuff that I’m dying to wear, but I’m honestly worried that people will think I’m weird if I dress how I REALLY want to dress. But on the flip side, I’m tired of trying to blend in with my outfits and never feeling fully like myself.
Amiably fitting in and never, never doing anything that could be construed as “weird” is one of those things that becomes sort of ingrained in all of us the second we set foot into junior high. For many of us, that feeling doesn’t disappear until college, or even early adulthood. And it sucks.
Casey was obsessed with heels, for reasons she can no longer understand, when she was in high school. But wearing tall shoes was very important to her--so important that she put up with pretty incessant heckling from classmates, all of whom stuck to an (unofficial!) uniform of graphic tees and low-rise flare jeans. “Why are you so dressed up?” seems like an innocent question, but it never was.
Would it have been easier to dress like everyone else? Uh, yeah. But figuring out what you like to wear is a very real part of figuring yourself out—along with what you like to read, watch, think, listen to, and do. Self-discovery is one of those things that never really ends, but you might as well start early.
Still, it’s annoying having to explain or question why you’re wearing a certain thing, just like it’s annoying have to explain your views on anything. But if it makes you feel any better, you’re definitely not alone. In fact, practically every single creative person today—including most top fashion editors!—have been criticized, often many times, by classmates about their outfit choices. If you’re stumped for how to respond and begin spiraling into self-doubt, consider this tactic that Connie Wang of Refinery29 still employs today. “When people ask me 'What even are those shoes?’ or ‘Whoa, those pants are really weird,’ I talk about why I like them so much,” she told us. “It's much harder to hate on something when someone's just told you a little story about them.”
And in your case, that’s what’s so awesome about vintage clothing: Whether it’s a $5 thrifted band tee or wearing one of your mom’s old dresses to prom (which Liza totally did sophomore year), having a history behind said item instantly makes it more special. Not to mention, an awesome story is something that the “new-in” section of a fast fashion retailer definitely doesn’t have.
Just remember this: confidence and commitment are really all you need. As long as you own your look—whatever your look may be—that’s all that matters. Just take it from none other than the style queen herself, Coco Chanel: "In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different." A million teenage girls have that quote pinned on their bulletin board (or, fine, Pinterest) for a reason.