As I get dressed each day, I can see all the pieces starting to fit together as I become the version of myself that I want the world to see. There’s no template or precise formula to the process, it’s all down to feeling. So checks go over stripes which in turn go under faux fur or spots or denim and I start to take shape.
My personal style sits in direct contradiction to itself. It’s at once a shroud of confidence and a source of vulnerability. It’s everything I am and everything I’m not. Pulling on bright colours and stepping into clashing prints feels like coming home but I’m far removed from the person these sartorial markers make me appear to be. People assume I’m confident, positive, extroverted but underneath it all I’m a serial worrier who loves to stay in and hates being the centre of attention.
On more delicate days when I wake up without an ounce of fight about my person, I can feel the gaze of each passerby as their eyes fix on my hot pink sock boots or my apple green gingham blazer. I inject malicious intent into stray laughter and unkind comments loiter, the words of judgemental strangers smouldering upon my reddening cheeks. On these days, the days when I feel like a beacon for insults, my style is a mark of defiance. It’s my physical stamp on the world when fading into the shadows would be the easy option. It’s me choosing who I want to be and not who others want me to be.
And on the other days? The days where I feel strong and capable? My style feels like a celebration. Capacious proportions, chunky plastic bangles and diametrically opposed hues are a confirmation of who I am. It’s my visual vocabulary and a badge of honour for my creativity. As I get dressed, I clash and layer and mismatch and become the embodiment of exactly who I want to be.
My outer self is folded in drawers and hung in my wardrobe. It sits, like a jigsaw, waiting to come together as the final image, only each piece doesn’t connect with the next. I pick and choose – a colour from here, a texture from there – until I create just what I want. It doesn’t look like the picture on the box but it does look like me.