FASHION AND FINDING MYSELF

Updated on Mar 26, 2011
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Annebeth 's Thoughts:

To some, life is about finding your one true love, be it a partner or a calling. For me, life is about finding myself. Fashion gets a bad rep for being superficial and ephemeral, but style has been my road to freedom and independency for as long as I can remember. Follow me through my formative fashion years as I find myself, one fabulous pair of shoes at a time.

The Early Years: Pretty Princess

I’m sure every person reading this remembers spending hours and hours playing dress up as a kid. Rummaging through old clothes belonging to your mom/grandmom, trying on heels way too big, messing about with old make up, taking in the smells and feels of what being a grown up must feel like. I loved the smell of my mom’s make up bag, the powdery sweetness and how it all alluded to the mystery that is femininity.

And of course, my mom didn’t mind my inclination for dressing up. There was nothing I loved more than having her dress me up in frilly dresses, braid my hair with ribbons and skipping about, tattling away in my own make believe world where I was either a princess, a gypsy, a cat, a ninja or all of the above. My parents let me wear whatever I wanted: I was a very free and creative kid. Proof: the veil I’m wearing with my ballerina dress is actually an old curtain. And I HAD to include the nose-picking picture.

Sadly, it is very hard to maintain that freedom throughout our formative years. Somehow, insecurity and puberty get in the way.

Teenage Wasteland: Awkward Individuality

Being a teenager is all about finding the delicate balance between fitting in and standing out: you don’t want to be bullied, but you are hankering for a sense of identity. Getting dressed is a never ending struggle between who you want to be and who you are expected to be: who you ARE seems to get lost somewhere in the process.

I started out dressing in jeans and band T’s, mixed with hand-me-down hoodies that belonged to my older brothers, like the House of Pain hoodie you see me wearing in the collage. But as I got older, I found my niche: punkrock. Plaid, lace up boots, red and black, distressed denim and safety pins were my code words. At one point I cut my hair short and dyed it bright red, and I wore safetypins through my ears. Sadly, being a teenager also means you don’t like having your picture taken, so it is very hard to find pictures to illustrate my style.

Everyone should have a few years of reckless abandon, of doing stupid things just because you thought them up, of rebelling just for the sake of rebelling, of feeling incredibly cool and incredibly insecure at the same time. Puberty is a horrible, delightful stage in life, and our doubtful fashion choices and lanky bodies express the awkwardness of this fase.
Don’t even get me started on boy trouble.

And so sorry for flipping you guys the bird!

Matured Style: Return To Femininity

Part 1

Slowly I grew out of puberty and into myself. I didn’t feel the need to try so hard anymore and I went for simple, cute, basic outfits. I cut my hair short again as a way to shed my childhood years, but I allowed myself to let some sweetness enter my wardrobe: florals, pinks, dresses and ballet flats. This was the year I worked in retail to save up for university, so practicallity and comfort were key!
After about a year of mostly wearing typical jeans + cute top + sneakers, I went through a fase where I wore dresses almost exclusively. This is the point in time where I discovered styleblogs, and Chictopia in particular. I was bombarded with inspiration, and the distillation of my own style began. Finding my silhouette was the first step: trying to be comfortable with the shape of my body and how it looked in clothes. I hated my boyish figure in jeans, so dresses were my salvation: I stuck to the safest options, dresses with black tights and boots, not really styling anything but just choosing one piece to create a look. As I said, I kept it safe and easy. This wasn’t maturity of style just yet.

Part 2

I started finding my confidence: I ventured out of my safety zone, mixing prints, combining colors, choosing silhouettes that wouldn’t necessarily “make my best features stand out”. In short, I let go of all the ridiculous little rules and regulations you pick up when reading style magazines, and I started thinking for myself. Who cares if midi skirts should be paired with heels in order not to look like a midget: flats are cute! So what if orange and red clash: I love the vibrancy! Tan isn’t really suitable for a winter-type like me? Whatever, I love my tan trenchcoat. In short: I started having fun with style instead of being concerned with “looking good” or fashion fads.
Also, this collage makes me realize I basically have 2 poses. AWKWARD

Stylevolution: Finding Your Voice

This is what fashion is about. It is a bit like growing up: at first, during your fashion childhood, you are blissfully unaware of the rules that tell you what goes with what: you just wear whatever looks nice to you.
But once fashion puberty hits, you start overthinking it. Insecurity makes your fashion voice break, and you cling to whatever brings you a sense of certainty: silly rules in magazines, trend reports and whatever your style idol is wearing. You fit right into a clique, a fashion-subculture, and you look just like your style-peers.
Slowly, you enter fashion adulthood, as you find your own voice again. Your clothes tell a story, express who you are instead of who you wish you’d be, and you don’t frantically look for tips or confirmations that you’re “doing it right”. You just KNOW you are right, because you are the only one who could do YOU right.

Do you feel like you have found your voice in fashion, or are you still searching?

THE STYLING DUTCHMAN

Comments (15)

zoomusicgirl0
zoomusicgirl0 on March 31
loved reading this :) made me understand you better! and you nailed some truths in there :o &haha @the nose picking picture. doesn't surprise me you included it :p
starryeyed
starryeyed on March 29
this is the best article ever :) its interesting, entertaining and inspiring all at once! how much better can it actually get!!?
MissMissy
MissMissy on March 28
love your assessment of the teen years haha, I too had a punk phase during my teens, but I was not as badass as you with that sweet pixie cut! Wonderful article!
fifthofjuly
fifthofjuly on March 28
I'm glad to see that I'm not the only one who went through a punk phase, although I can't say I regret it, or that I'm not at all attached to it still! This article really shows that an individual style is really something one develops though, which is knowledge that I find wonderfully encouraging and inspirational.
F4SHI0N
F4SHI0N on March 27
love the process-it fits perfect w/everyone!!!!!!
pandaphilia
pandaphilia on March 27
i feel like i know more about you now! it's beautiful how you've matured as a woman and as a fashionista
maryiangge
maryiangge on March 27
awesome! love how you do the chapters in life! nice!
QueenVII
QueenVII on March 27
one of my favorite articles you have written!!! xoxo
angiekje
angiekje on March 27
love this!! great article! faving, liking
JyaDi
JyaDi on March 27
great article! you look great with short hair btw
NanaHoshino
NanaHoshino on March 27
Great post!!!
ZaneZanite
ZaneZanite on March 27
absolutely love this post and enjoyed it so much :)
Demy22
Demy22 on March 27
I read this in your blog abd at the end you had th link so I came here! Seriously, that was the best post I've read recently. Youcannot imagine how mych this article meant to me. Being a teenager, who lives in a tiny village, where everyone knows (and critisizes) everyone, I can't relate with your whole fashion journey, but only till your teenage years. And I think that you described..
Annebeth
Annebeth on March 27
omg that is like the most beautiful comment I ever got!! thank you so much! don't be too hard on yourself: things will get easier and you'll learn to love every stupid thing you hate about yourself now :) but you need the hardships you're facing now to blossom into the lovely individual you'll be one day (and actually already are today :))
Demy22
Demy22 on March 27
..it in the best possible way. It's so hard to find your own identity, because everyone wants you to be somebody else. It's killing me. And I guess you felt the same way back then. I feel you. I want to wake up and be 19 and then everything's gonna be so much easier. That was a really awesome post. The most amazing 10 minutes of my day, honestly! And I wanted to tell you that you look like Katy Perry, especially when you were a teen! And I love your blog's new layout and header :)
londondude
londondude on March 27
seriously great post, a wonderful read from start to finish. Almost feel like a fashion voyeur here, seeing into a window of your progression from early fun, dress up as a kid, to the punk rock phase, right through to the mature, more completed style identity that you clearly possess right now. I admit to seeing a bit of myself here. I used to dress up as cowboys and indians, went through -
Annebeth
Annebeth on March 27
I'm so glad people in general can recognize their own life in this description, I was aiming for a mix of personal and general in this piece! :)
londondude
londondude on March 27
- a period on punk rock (leather jackets, DM's, band t shirts) in my mid teens, a uniform of jeans and shirts for my late teens, and then finally feeling comfortable in my more mod gent niche. I guess once you get there, you feel riight! And who knows how you might feel in years to come? To me, its like a journey of expressing your character, and your moods. Great blog!
cityofbugs
cityofbugs on March 27
oh Annebeth, i LOVED reading this! the story of your style evolution. i definitely think its something that everyone on here can relate to, i know i can! and the nose picking picture is SO cute :P
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