The Beauty in Unconventional Dressing
There comes an inherent privilege in being conventional, an impermeable safety net from dressing like everyone else, but where is the freedom in that?
By Analise Bruno
I remember wearing a skirt to school used to be a group-pact kind of thing, because surely sporting an outfit that wasn’t jeans, leggings, or sweatpants was far too dressy for your average day of classes. It’s interesting that a certain level of bravery was required to maintain a sense of style, and even more so, the power of others' influence.
How we dress goes beyond finding a way to cover ourselves; it is an outward expression of who we construct ourselves to be internally. As soon as I was old enough to fit into clothes stores geared towards teens, such as American Eagle, Hollister, and PINK, I found a sense of pride in my clothes, how I paired them, and most importantly how I wore them. No longer constricted by obscene amounts of sequin tops and jeggings, the world of fashion was at my fingertips. I could now choose between ripped jeans, baby tees, chokers of every color, and lacey bralettes that I would let peak out of my tank top. 2016 was a strange time in fashion, but never before had I experienced such freedom. Yet, the style I possessed was not entirely my own.
In part, the outfits I created came from the influence of my only older cousin, who put me on to these “older kid” stores, and from the girls in class around me. It was not enough to just gain my own style, I also had to accommodate it to fit in with the trends. I remember asking for my mother’s opinion every night, hanging on every last breath of her thoughts. She grew restless at points, once asking me, “Analise, YOU’RE the one wearing the clothes, not me, so why don’t you wear what YOU like?”
Coming from an extremely small town, dressing against convention earned you a certain label. As a result, I spent those four years wearing different variations of jeans and a top every day, not because it was my style, but because it allowed me to blend in. In my flare jeans, long-sleeve top, and converse, I wasn’t trying too hard, but I wasn’t doing the bare minimum either — I thought I had finally reached a middle ground.
My first day of college brought along a big culture shock, when I witnessed such a huge variation in personal style. There was no single defined aesthetic across campus; I saw people in sweats and leggings, others in dresses and skirts, and some in blazers and trench coats. These styles are by no means new, but as someone who once fretted about how they would be perceived for wearing a skirt to school, I was in shock.
Only two months into college, I have come to showcase my true style more than ever before. I don’t even think twice about throwing on a mini skirt and tights with a cute top — now as familiar as wearing jeans and a shirt. I branched out of my comfort zone and purchased vintage embroidered jeans, skirts with buckles and lace, and sweaters of all kinds. Dressing apart from what you feel is socially acceptable comes with an indescribable amount of freedom.