Lessons From A Faux Fashionista

I have loved fashion for as long as I can remember. In fifth grade, I launched my own pretend business called “Sparkle Designs” and carried around a huge binder overflowing with amateur sketches of models with eyes as big as their head and spindly fingers (I could never get the hands quite right) wearing A-line dresses covered in pink rhinestones (of course, they just looked like upside down triangles on top of a stick figure). It was early on in my life, though, that I realized just how artistically inept I actually am. I could never read music or play an instrument, I couldn’t draw for the life of me, and when my tanktop starts to fall off the shoulders, I’m more prone to staple the strap than sew it back together. Even so, I grew up flipping through fashion magazines and making collages of my favorite items in sketchbooks. My four walls were plastered in editorials from Seventeen and Vogue. I had thousands of ideas and I can still picture clearly in my mind exactly what the next best fashion trend will be–created by me, of course, and a team of trusty designers who can actually place a gem at the bodice without their hands so much as shaking. Unfortunately, my lack of creative ability (coordination, craftiness, specific skills) has hindered the execution of my wild ideas, but I still remain just as in love with fashion as I’ve always been.

So I may not be able to sketch a gorgeous gown on anything more than a measly stick figure but I can see it perfectly in my mind where each pleat and drape falls, where the tulle billows from beneath. I may not be able to sew an actual garment but if my favorite sweater gets a hole in it, I’ll grab the stapler or a binder clip and get to work preserving it. I may be a poor college student who can’t afford anything other than cute Forever 21 dresses, but I can do more with a pair of $8 jeggings from WalMart than I would with a $1200 Alexander McQueen handbag anyway.

From a faux fashionista, here is some fashion wisdom about being true to yourself, having fun, and showing yourself off to the world like you deserve to:

1) Mix and match. Or just mix. Or just match. When I ditched the conventional matching rules in high school (you know the ones–never match navy with black!), tons of possibilities opened up for me. I began experimenting with patterns and prints that I thought looked interesting or pretty together, knowing that even if it doesn’t look good to somebody else, I created the combination myself and I feel good in it.

2) Be proud of your favorite color but don’t get stuck with it. Anybody who knows me knows that pink is my all-time favorite color. I love all pretty, beautiful things, and anything that’s pink and sparkly is something I probably already own. Unfortunately, pink can be a grating, intrusive color to wear, so when I go overboard (I can’t help it!), I choose items that pop or will be pleasing to the eye. Instead of making pink my go-to color when I can’t figure out what to wear, I treat it like any other outfit. I never throw on two pink items and call it a day; I create the outfit until it’s cohesive… and yes, unbearably pink!

3) Accessories are your best friendWhen you start to get bored of your wardrobe and you think you’ve managed every possible combination, take a look at all those purses and hats you were planning to donate to Goodwill. If you have at least a handful of jewelry, a few bags, and a cute hat or two, you have endless new options. Play around with different looks and don’t be afraid to experiment. I wear plastic kiddie rings that you’d find on the top of a birthday cake and big bows I wear clipped to the back of my hair or on top of my head like a hat. Even sunglasses can transform an outfit.

4) Educate yourself and learn by doing. One of my favorite activities is reading books about fashion and making collages from magazines. It’s the best way for me to constantly learn about the history of fashion, new and upcoming trends, and the best in the business. Beyond the informative side of fashion literature, they also have crazy amounts of inspiration. Nothing inspires me to want to go on a shopping spree more than reading about Tim Gunn’s favorite pieces of clothing or Amy Odell’s time at sample sales.

If you’re interested in reading some fashion books, try these:

The Dress: 100 Iconic Moments In Fashion by Megan Hess

Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible by Tim Gunn 

Grace: A Memoir by Grace Coddington 

Mademoiselle: Coco Chanel and the Pulse of History by Rhonda K. Garelick

Tales From The Back Row: An Outsider’s View from Inside the Fashion Industry by Amy Odell

5) Be unapologetic, be creative, be fearless. My personal style has defined me a lot over the years. I’m the girl who painted hearts and stars on her face using eyeliner just for a normal day of school. I pair polka dots with floral print on a daily basis and I’ll wear my sock monkey hat with a pretty dress if it’s cold out. I don’t make compromises for fashion: I wear what I want when I want because I don’t care what other people think of me. I call myself a faux fashionista because fashion means so much to me but I will blend patterns and make people cringe with my oversized bows until the day I die. It may not be fashionable but it is wholly, uniquely, and unapologetically me. I have cultivated a style and fashion philosophy that remains unrivaled because the only person I dress for is myself. The most important part about fashion is not how you look, but how you feel.




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