The Sartorial Decisions that Shape our Identity

Thoughts | Vanessa NardinKruczaj

Aware: Art Fashion Identity Exhibition, hosted at the Royal Academy of London, 2010. Image: GW MANIS

Aware: Art Fashion Identity Exhibition, hosted at the Royal Academy of London, 2010. Image: GW MANIS

At the young age of 18, my investment in fashion is deep-seated, emotional, and seemingly never-ending. While I don’t consider myself to be a fashion know-it-all nor a style seeker, I will admit its overwhelming consumption in my everyday life. I study it on the streets, in books, and in photos.  I appreciate it, I am fuelled by it, I subconsciously abide by it. And yet, when Monday morning rolls around, I begin my day, clothes in hand, patiently awaiting the mood that will unhinge from the carefully chosen pieces I decide to wear that day.

            As fashion has become what seems like a tentpole in my life, a constant driving factor to how I perceive the world around me, it never fails to affirm the belief I have in its ability to allow me the opportunity to express my identity in a variety of forms. Take the the simple act of dressing in the morning. To some this routine may be a simple one, to throw on whatever is clean, while to others each colour, silhouette, and mood is accounted for. As a student whose primary and secondary school years were accompanied by strict uniform and dress codes,  I’ve not only learnt to appreciate the efficiency and zero‐brain power that is required to wear the same tie, tunic and polished loafers week after week, but I’ve also learned to fully appreciate the freedom and self‐expression that accompanies making the executive decision of what I wear.

            The concept of dressing one’s self is an interesting one. We reach into our closest and whether we realize it or not, we pick the identity we want to showcase to the world that day. Don’t get me wrong, appearances are not everything, they aren’t even the half of it. One’s sartorial choices can provide one with ability to express how they are feeling, what they want to achieve that day, and their interests and passions. I know, you are probably thinking, I just grab whatever’s clean and throw it on, but each item you wear has a history and someone who was inspired to create it. The stories, the feelings, the time period, the social and political standards, all have impacted its creation, colour, fabric, its practicality and wearability.

            What’s so alluring about one’s closet space and the practice of dressing is that it’s one of the most intimate and invigoratingly mundane customs that each individual participates in. There is an exhilarating sense of vulnerability and indulgence that accompanies the personal decision to determine how you feel, what you as an individual represent, and how you choose to express that to society. Whether your version of self is feeling attention-starved, or creative and empowered, there is incredible value in alternating the various identities you associate with, and propelling such moods through dress.

            In order to feel truly fulfilled with daily sartorial decisions, one must acknowledge and be confident in who they are as a person, and recognize their own self‐importance. While the fashion industry often suggests what being “fashionable” is, as platitudinous as it sounds, dressing for yourself and no one else is the authentic way to find personal style. Discovering your personal style is probably one of the hardest things for an individual to do when it comes to their wardrobe. In today’s society, each person you meet has their own personal brand and one they are still trying to perfect. While there are many aspects to creating your personal brand including networking, being passionate about what you do, and being 100% authentic; your personal style has an impact too.

            When I think about my relationship with fashion, it has evolved to be much more that just the clothes I choose to cloak my body, it has become the vehicle with which I share stories, try on opinions, and harbour a sense of differentiation. Dressing in a way that accentuates your own self‐love and enhances your pre‐existing confidence is where the roots of style grow. It is very easy to become a slave of fashion. It’s hard work trying to accommodate each trend and colour palette to your wardrobe especially when you don’t take the time to pause and reflect on whether that piece truly makes you feel giddy. Finding pieces that speak to your interests can often be hard, so feel free to experiment and step out of your comfort zone. It’s oftentimes when you feel most vulnerable, in the most positive sense of the word, that you find your true self. It’s important that I clarify my intentions when I say to “step out of your comfort zone”. By this I do not mean to wear a garment or accessory that makes you feel uncomfortable or dissonant. The vulnerability you experience should stem from excitement and anxiousness to finally be wearing a piece you were too hesitant to before and one that distinguishes yourself as an individual.

            Next time you find yourself looking through your closet confused on what to wear, consider how you are feeling, what you intend to accomplish, and how you want to present yourself to others. Remember that personal style can’t adhere to  one mold, nor consumed in a vacuum like often theorized.  It takes time, it entails nurturing a sense of self. Make sure you feel truly comfortable and confident with what you decide, and maybe even take a stride in those superfluous culottes and rollicking bangles you’ve been hiding in the deep trenches of your closet!

thoughtsThe Howl Mag