I was in a cab in Montreal when it happened: My friend squinted out the backseat window, smirked, and then began to mock someone's personal style. I felt like I was back in the third grade lunch room again, guiltily biting into a PB&J as a Kelly or a Tiffany next to me sneered at how some other classmate had the gal to wear the wrong colored tights. Except this time we weren't nine and ruled by the Mad Max laws that were the cafeteria hierarchy. This time we were 26 and way above tearing into someone just because they were different.
Let me press rewind here and explain. We were in a taxi and on our way to this tiny Jewish-run diner that was renowned for the most bomb-tastic roast beef sandwiches. Beyond excited to order a cherry Dr. Pepper and make out with the thing, I distracted myself from drooling by watching Montreal pass by through the window. That was when we saw her: A girl with beautifully wild, curly hair, godly gladiator sandals, and a tent dress in a psychedelic tie-dye. And that's when the sneers came because she didn't quite live up to my pal's style standards.
That was the instance when something clicked for me: Making fun of someone's personal style is nonsensical. And here are the many reasons why.
1. Different Isn't Ugly. It's Just Different
A lot of us have this knee-jerk tendency to believe that anything that's different from our own preferences is ugly and wrong. If you happen to like minimalism, rockabilly is madness. If you prefer to be svelte, fat is a horrid fate. If you like blown-out hair, pixie cuts must be hackneyed.
Anything that falls outside of our realm of interests and likes might thus feel like it's sub-par. But here's the thing: We all have different personalities and unique tastes. What if someone looks at your minimalist style and thinks you're uninspired? You're obviously not, so it would be an unfair assessment.
2. Style Is A Super Personal Journey
Granted there are some people who just shop for sweaters and jeans and call it a day (which is totally fine). But others curate and grow their own style through a personal journey. They try to express themselves through prints and colors, sharing a piece of how they view their world through their dress silhouettes and shoe choices.
Style can sometimes be the equivalent of an artist approaching a canvas with a paintbrush — we wonder what inspired them to create their art. So to tease someone for what they wear is to mock their history, their feelings, and the type of person they're trying to grow into.
3. Judging People For Branching Out Is Unnecessary
Whenever I see someone smirk at an interestingly dressed person, I can't help but wonder why they're so afraid of seeing folks branch out. After all, that's what trying on something unconventional is all about: The person is playing with different versions of self-expression. Why is that so scary?
4. As Is Tearing Someone Down For Being Playful
Whenever I see someone dressed in a uniform that isn't all cardigans, jeans, and booties, I can't help but smile and think how they must have had fun that morning choosing all their pieces. That's why fashion is there: To bring another channel of creativity into our lives. It can challenge us to not take something like our image so seriously, and instead play.
Do you remember how fun it was to take out your favorite skirts when you were five and then match them with rain boots and your mom's sunglasses? Same deal. If you find yourself mocking someone's adventurous look, you're the one who takes their profile too seriously. Try to loosen up and enjoy dressing up.
5. It's A Sign That You're Uncomfortable With Who You Are
The people who step out in unconventional looks are likely more secure with themselves than most humans. They probably enjoy who they are and embrace their tastes, which is why they don't mind whether some on the street won't understand their choice of dress.
The person who needs to blend in with the crowd, however, might not be as secure when it comes to showing themselves in such a blatant and brave way. Ultimately, enjoying oneself in such an honest manner is something to be celebrated.
6. Sometimes People Make Mistakes
I used to have a fashion blog and when I look back at some of the outfits I thought were pure genius, well, ermygod. People make mistakes. You might have gotten caught up in a creative whirlwind that was more mad scientist than Michelangelo and stepped out looking more intense than you originally wanted. But who cares? You live and learn and next time you'll do something a little differently. There's no need to be judged up and down the street for trying.
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7. Staying In Your Own Style Group Is Boring
My squad rolls three deep, and the thing that I love about our group is that we all have wildly different styles. I'm more Solange-vintage, Lina is New York urban wear, and Tom is something different every time I see him. We're so diverse that we look like an after school special, and the great thing is that we each admire our choices and our eye for style.
While we might not swap wardrobes or be able to confidently rock the same looks, it's exciting to see what the other will wear when we meet up for tacos and beers, and we can appreciate the sheer creativity of each other. When you just stay in your own style group and think everyone outside of it is mental, then you're really boxing yourself into a beige kind of existence.
8. You Can Stand To Learn A Little More
I find that the people most judge-y about others' styles are the ones who don't really bone up on fashion. And it makes sense: If you flip through magazines or seek out style articles, you're usually exposed to a lot of different, creative, oftentimes out-of-the-box kind of ideas. The more you see of them, the less radical they look, and the more doable they feel. And from that, you gain appreciation when you actually see someone on the street copying an editorial or taking Anna Wintour's genius to heart.
9. Just Because You Don't Experiment Doesn't Mean Others Shouldn't
If a person took some time going through their wardrobe and playing with combinations, experimenting with how different pieces go together, and learned how you can clash different styles to make something exciting, they should honestly gain respect. Why? Because they're doing something fun and bold!
Creating an outfit that speaks and that feels perfectly "you" is exciting, and if you knew that feeling, you probably wouldn't be so quick to tear another person down for doing just that.
10. No One Is An Authority On What's "Pretty"
Don't you feel like it's slightly weird when someone claims to be the authority regarding what's pretty or correct? Like, why does this human get to decide that they're the stylish one and the person on the other side of the cab window is the schmuck? What if it's actually the other way around? When did they get crowned Anna Wintour and get handed the scepter of Vogue? Why was I not invited to the inauguration?
11. People Usually Dress With Purpose
I personally think that it's incredibly inconsiderate when someone mocks someone else's fashion sense because people usually dress with purpose. When you break out of the mold of a uniform, you're often trying to convey something about yourself and your situation, and it should never be met with a sneer.
Just like how punks in the '70s dressed in tartan to bite at the queen and their tough social situation, or grunge types dressed in thrift gear in the '90s to show that they weren't interested in commercialism and the rat race of their parents, or plus size women now dress in shorty shorts and skirts to highlight their love of their bodies, all people should feel free to dress with purpose. Don't make fun of the message they're living out.
In the end, if you tease someone for their personal style, you might feel like you're the person on top. But really, you're just being short-sighted. Embrace differences and appreciate creativity, instead.
Images: abeautifulmess/Instagram; Marlen Komar (1)