By Kim Dhliwayo
People have been using fashion as a form of self-expression for a very long time. But with originality comes judgment from others, making it difficult for those who want to dress differently from society’s standards.
“Don’t be into trends. Don’t make fashion own you but you decide what you are, what you want to express by the way you dress and the way you live,” Gianni Versace once famously said.
But society traditionally has restricted many people from expressing themselves creatively with fashion. For example, blue has traditionally been associated with men; pink with women.
This gender-restricted mentality was installed in people’s minds since they were young. A boy wearing pink would be labelled “gay” or get questioned about wearing this “feminine” colour.
Breaking down barriers
In today’s society, thankfully, some are working hard to break down those barriers, and let people feel free to wear whatever they feel most comfortable in. Man United’s pink tops as part of their kits is a perfect example of people being more accepting, as football is seen as a “man’s sport.” And the Duchess and the Duke of Sussex decorated their son’s room using a neutral scheme palette.
Seeing people with such influence partake in breaking down these barriers is a step towards a better future. Maison Global reported that “Neutral schemes are six times more popular than pink or blue with nursery shoppers at John Lewis and Partners…online searches for pink and blue products are down 8 and 9 percent respectively this year.”
When it comes to using fashion as a form of creativity Jaden Smith is definitely a strong contender. In the beginning, people labelled him as “weird” and “gay” because he occasionally wears dresses, such as when he attended prom with Amandla Stenberg. Jaden has commented on his style, saying: “If somebody is just wearing something for the blogs, that’s really sad because they’re not living for themselves.”
He has continued to wear whatever he wants, and some have been inspired by it and started dressing however they want but many still label him as weird. One tweet even said “Jaden Smith would be so fine if he stopped dressing so damn weird.”
Owning your style
Newly popular Billie Eilish has managed to gain attention from both her singing and personal fashion style. She is very different from other artists and she has a reason for this. She is known for wearing baggy clothes and this has become a very big part of her style.
Billie is one of the stars for the new Calvin Klein campaign “I Speak My Truth in #MYCALVINS”. She explains that she uses fashion as a form of protection from the rest of the world.
“Nobody can have an opinion because they haven’t seen what’s underneath. Nobody can be like, ‘she’s slim-thick,’ ‘she’s not slim-thick,’ ‘she’s got a flat ass,’ ‘she’s got a fat ass.’ No one can say any of that because they don’t know.”
People don’t mind dressing up when it comes to themed parties or events. Many people will go above and beyond to make sure they are part of the theme. However, when they see someone dressed in an “unconventional” way on a daily basis they start to label them with negative connotations.
“For me, fashion can even be a confidence booster; a nice outfit can always turn my day around and make me feel anew. I also enjoy using clothes to showcase the many sides of my personality which means my fashion choices often fluctuate, usually depending on factors such as my mood and environment,” said Fatima, 21-year-old, who was shopping in Shoreditch. “One day I may wear my joggers and a hoodie and the next day I can be in a fully embellished mini dress.”
This shows that fashion allows you to be versatile with your mood and allows people to get a glimpse of who you are as a person.
Style and personality
Often, we associate people with their style. For example, when you’re shopping with your friends you see something and you say, “This looks like something you would wear” and this is because their style has become part of their personality.
Walking around different parts of London you always come across people dressed a certain way and many people have started labelling the places with a certain type of dressing. Shoreditch is known for being “edgy and cool” whereas Mayfair is fancy or like “hypebeast”, and this is often because the area is known for being expensive, so people want to fit in and dress the part.
“I feel comfortable and in control cause of the confidence I have in myself for my picking something that’s turning heads”, said Leroy, 27, whilst walking around Mayfair.
Fashion is a key component of self-expression and even when buying into the same popular trends people will interpret them differently. Therein lies the beauty of fashion.
Although many are starting to judge others less because of how they dress, we still have a long way to go before everyone feels comfortable enough to wear whatever they want.
“Whatever the reason, it’s important to keep in mind that it’s up to Billie to decide what she wears, and the same goes for all of us. The decision to cover — or bare — a body part is an individual, and often personal, choice, and no one deserves to be shamed or judged for their clothing decisions, period.” – Teen Vogue