As an outsider looking into the world of fashion you see what they want you to see. Perfect editorials, strategically curated homes and beautiful, well-tailored clothing. Even the behind-the-scenes looks amazing. Like WTF? Anyone who has seen my – or ANY DESIGNER’S – studio knows that that’s nonsense.
My first glimpse into the real fashion world was at university where all of us freshmen were there to make a good impression. To make a fashion impression. There was no freshman 15 for us! Remember that scene in the Devil Wears Prada where Andie is told that 6 is the new 14…. that was my experience.
I remember going to class in my LITERAL PROM DRESS [to the knee dress, styled with combat boots and a denim jacket] and a classmate getting told to go back to her dorm and change because she showed up in an oversized hoodie and leggings.
“Would you show up to work looking like that?”
“So go home and change and you show up to my class with the same respect you would give your boss.”
This was a lesson none of us forgot and it wasn’t a bad lesson to learn.
We were taught the process of design, how to pattern-make, sew, tap into our creativity and how to keep a secret. *Que opening music from Pretty Little Liars.
The fashion world is changing. But slowly. We are still so competitive! Competitiveness is a learned behaviour, “Never let them see you sweat” “Whoever has it done first wins.” “If she makes your design first then who’s was it?” – these are things I heard in fashion school. We learned to never show the HOW, only the result.
Makes sense that what we now know to show to YOU, our audience is the finished product. We’ve all seen those Pinterest posts, Tik Toks or IG posts that say, “love yourself.” or “to look chic where this_________” but then you do that and it looks ridiculous? It’s because we as the fashion people never learned how to teach. Only to show.
Looking at those posts you want to scream at your phone, “BUT HOW!? YES. I WANT TO LOOK CHIC! YES, I WANT TO LOVE MYSELF BUT IT’S PRETTY F****ING HARD WHEN YOU DON’T GIVE ME THE TOOLS TO DO THAT!” PS. it could just be me. Totally get it.
It is also because we’re just shown the end result that we get it in our heads that this is an easy process. “Love yourself. Accept yourself.” Sure, I like that, I want that, I need that, but when I’ve spent my entire life telling myself the opposite I can’t just wake up one morning and go, “Pinterest told me to love myself now I’m changed.”
Or if you can follow some of those lessons that are being taught (belt a loose dress, do something weird with your bra strap to make mock shoulder pads) but don’t understand why certain lessons work. You buy what you’re told to buy but then don’t have your style because you’re busy mimicking someone else’s style. This is where you get into the staring at a full closet with nothing to wear scenario.
Some girls just instinctively get it and that is an amazing skill to have and I’m not saying I don’t have it, I’m saying I learned it. I don’t care about going out without makeup or wearing heals but I know which makeup to put on and which heals I can walk in. I am that girl that will bike to work, fashion girls don’t do that because you have to plan your outfit accordingly. I’ve always been like that and for those who are like me, that’s ok. For those of you who feel the best in heals and don’t enjoy leaving the house without makeup, that’s also okay.
What growing up in this environment meant for me though was constantly asking myself where I fit into this fashion world. I like to make things but I’m not just a seamstress. I like to make patterns but I’m not just a patternmaker. I like fashion but I don’t fit in with the fashion girls, I like to dress up but I also like to hike. Where does it say that to be chic and fashionable you have to be just one thing?? I mean… besides all over Vogue, Elle, Fashion Television, Cosmo, and Sex in the City?
So what’s the point of this post?
Understand that you are not alone in not understanding. We, the fashion industry are not taught to teach, so a lot of us don’t know-how. What we teach is these fast “belt it” fixes. But we are bad for showing and explaining, where the belt sits matters [PROPORTION] the width of the belt matters [PROPORTION], the COLOUR and SHAPE matter all for different reasons.
It is okay to be confused. Know that I am here and committed to helping explain the why behind the how and that you can have a style when you have a multitude of interests.