The majority of us love fashion, in one way or another. We love the playful new trends that we can experiment with every season, the works of art that designers want to encourage us to wear on a regular Thursday, and the excitement of seeing our own personalities in a given dress or specific citrusy hue. While some would like to write off fashion as being something materialistic and vapid, I think it’s something that we create an intense, emotional bond with. It becomes apart of us.
Fashion reveals a part of our personalities before we even say our first "hello," and it develops and changes as we grow — allowing us to wear our histories on our backs. It's pieces of who we are and who we wish we were, as well as people we admire and want to emulate.
Like wearing a bold red lipstick because that’s what our mother wore at our age. Or high waist trousers because that’s what that one fabulous girl wore at the other side of the crosswalk.
It lets you put your hands around art and beauty on a day to day basis, and allows you to be playful even when your day is over-filled with routine and schedules. It’s an important part of our lives and — for me — it has been the focus of all my love for as long as I can remember. And I’m not even being dramatic with that sentence.
I still remember that first moment when I was introduced to the dizzying world of fashion. I was standing in the candy aisle of Walgreens, clutching bags of Twizzlers and M&Ms close to my chest, trying to think of a way to persuade my mom into buying me not just one, but both. I was 14 and impatient to get out of there and back to my room, where I could listen to Mariah Carey on the radio as I put stickers on my furniture.
Just as I thought of a clever way to sneak the candy into the shopping basket, I turned and was about to go find my mom when I saw it: The flash of a red dress, the perfect coif of blonde hair, the dizzying patterns running down the sweep of a gown. All with large red letters spelling Vogue across the cover. For a moment, I was frozen. Something about the picture caught me by the throat and, though I didn’t understand it, I couldn’t look away. I took a tentative step forward. Then, shifting the candy over to one arm, I reached out and opened the cover. And was met with pages upon pages of beautiful women jumping in dresses, wearing works of art on their backs, wearing strange shapes and colors I’ve never seen any other woman wear during Polish mass on Sundays. I was startled. And confused. And completely and totally enamored.
I dropped all the candy on the floor and instead ran to my mom with the magazine in hand, begging her to let me buy it. This was the first time I put something ahead of sugar, and that moment pretty much changed the direction of my life. From then on, I dedicated all my attention to this beautiful world of colors, sweeps, and shapes.
I’d pour over the pages, butchering designer names as I tried out the French words in my mouth, reading terms and ideas that I had no idea what they meant, but knew I’d commit to memory. I’d rip out pages and decorate my walls with them, the purple paint now decked out with Calvin Klein campaigns, Dolce & Gabbana romance, and editorial stories that took place in seemingly exotic lands like Morocco or India. I’d read articles about culture and designer inspirations and finish as non-plussed about it as when I started, but the ideas and feelings started to become familiar. The crazy patterns and wild mix of colors started to become more intuitive, and the more art-like the outfit the more my eyes ate it up. It was a world I couldn’t grasp, but knew I had to be a part of.
And I did become a part of it. All those beautiful lands that were the backdrops to Giorgio Armani silk gowns and Givenchy bird-like dresses? All those pages of Indian bazaars, Thai islands, warm villages, and humid jungles that decorated my walls? Well, they’re now in my passport, in the form of stamps. Those pictures were the first time I discovered what travel was and I made sure to visit each and every one of them, promising myself my wanderlust wouldn’t be confined to paper taped onto walls. Granted I looked more like a sweaty backpacker than a flawless blonde in a zebra print pantsuit, but it happened.
The beautiful articles depicting memories of nostalgia and interpretations of designers led me to want to become a writer, and gave me the confidence to do so. Those pages taught me how to capture emotion and beauty and hope in a sentence, and translate it to how a dress feels when you slip it on your shoulders, or how a sweater keeps you protected when you’re feeling open and vulnerable.
And that's just it — that's what clothes do. Fashion isn’t just material. Fashion helps whip up a fantasy world for yourself — one where citrus colors rule, skirts become messy with flowers, material sweeps down the length of your back and flirts with your ankles, and lets you put your hands around the dream. And then dares you, encourages you, to make it into your life. You find something beautiful because you see yourself in that beauty.
Now put it on your back, and live it.
Images: Author's Own/Messages On A Napkin; Getty