Laine Hourigan ’21
“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life”––Bill Cunningham
A jacket for warmth. Sunglasses to protect the eyes. A mask to divert the germs. A pair of shoes to step on broken glass. Clothes shield us from the inevitable conditions in life. From freezing weather, dangerous UVs, deadly viruses, or a broken bottle on the street, each piece of fabric serves a meticulous purpose. The primary purpose it serves me goes far beyond protection from physical threats.
The clothes I wear shield me from losing myself in the chaos of life. I let myself find my identity in the outfits I create. The future out of my control and the past unchangeable, I meet the challenges of leaving the house with the clothes on my back reminding me of who I am and how far I have come. Effortlessly, I have conditioned myself to choose outfits presenting who I am at any given moment. Giving me the confidence to grow as an individual while maintaining my identity, each article serves its purpose.
It takes little observation to know my pride comes in the coordination of my outfit. I find myself choosing outfits to serve me. Comfort in bold choices is what fires my serotonin. I orchestrate each outfit to demonstrate the words I don’t have the time to speak, to showcase my identity that could effortlessly be stripped without a stand. Clothes may cover my skin, but they expose my truths. You are what you eat, just as I am what I wear.
From the daintiest jewelry to the chunkiest sneakers, each garment and accessory serves a purpose in telling my story. You will always find simple white pearls in my single ear piercing as I’ve convinced myself I would have fit perfectly with those born into “Old Money” on the South Carolina coast. Striving for modesty allows some things to be kept for myself, just as I believe some thoughts are better kept inside. My lack of sweaters and long sleeves shed light on my constant anticipation of warm weather and the entirety of my life being lived by the beach. When at a loss of words my bubble gum pink jeans uncover my willingness to have unwavering and bold opinions. Unpopular opinion hair can make or break an outfit and my messy buns indicate my messy life; I’m 18 and still fail to control my own hair. Hand painted jeans showcase the few drops of creativity I squeeze into customizing my clothes to express the value I place on being unique. The nine pairs of overalls that hang in my closet are my attempts to stall adolescence from slipping between my fingers. Clothes are the puzzle pieces coming together allowing outfits to tell my story.
Creating an outfit is an art. It takes time to pull pieces together, find the right mix of patterns to perfectly express your own sense of style. Style is the opportunity to break rules without consequence, to unapologetically express yourself. I put myself into a world controlled by no one and armour that reality with an outfit to shield me from the messiness of life. It is my choice. It is my controllable. It is my sense of individualism. My style, my clothes, my outfits, they let me be me.
“Fashion you can buy, but style you possess. The key to style is learning who you are, which takes years. There’s no how-to road map to style. It’s about self expression” —Iris Apfel
Photo Credit: Bazaar.com