Illustration by Gabrielle Conlon

Fashion matters. Naysayers may deem it frivolous and even narcissistic, but I will always believe in the power of fashion.

Self expression through clothing and all facets of beautification date back to ancient times. Clothing was used to show one’s standing in society and there was often deep cultural significance tied to each style of dress. In 2016, a lot has changed in the world of fashion, but at the same time, it hasn’t changed as much as one would think. We may wear t-shirts and jeans now, but cultures have still held onto their traditional garb. And when it comes to showing one’s wealth, haute couture is there for those who can afford it.

Beautification is as relevant as ever; just as in ancient times, today’s people modify their bodies with paint, ink, piercings, and makeup. Surely something that has lasted this long holds some value, even for those who would deny it does. Fashion is a way of saying, this is what I like, this is what I prioritize, this is an insight into who I am as a person. Let’s take my dad for example; I wouldn’t say he’s anti-fashion, but he definitely tends towards that side of the spectrum. The word “fashion” is all encompassing, however, so though he denies interest in fashion, technically he does take part in it. And what do his fashion choices say about him?  

They communicate that for him, it’s all about comfort, quality, and utility. And then there’s me, miss “I-wear-seven-rings-everyday-just-for-the-aesthetic.” What can I say, I’m a big fan of accessorizing. The reason I wear seven rings everyday is because I don’t have 8 rings to wear everyday. For me, accessories are the beautiful frosting atop the cake. The beauty of fashion is that you can make it yours.

Even if you don’t have the budget for brand names, you can still do you if you take advantage of the resources around you. Secondhand is just as good as new and it’s a lot kinder on the wallet. You also never know what you’ll find when you go thrifting! Even if you don’t end up buying anything, just the experience of trying on different styles of clothes can be a fun experience all on its own. Better yet, go with a fellow fashion-enthusiast and have a blast picking out things for the other to try on. Allow yourself to forget about the opinions of others, just for a moment.

Don’t think about the hateful things people might say, just focus on the joy of self expression. Which clothes make you feel like you can conquer the world? The answer is different for everyone, and that’s the magic of fashion.

I’m still working my way up to wearing the clothing I want to wear. I wore a crop top for the first time this summer at the beach. I was incredibly nervous, worried people would judge me for it, but it was a good experience. Next time I think I’ll try wearing it when I go out shopping; it’s all about baby steps. I still avoid wearing shorts out in public and I steer clear from wearing short dresses, but little by little, I know I can get to the point where I’m comfortable in my skin and in my fashion. We are all our own worst critics, so don’t be afraid to let your beauty shine.

I love you and I know you can do it.