I have recently been spending some time in the chemistry department where I did my PhD and I heard through the grapevine that I was remembered for my fashion (note, not my research or my brilliant mind! More on that in the future). I was also told that it didn’t take much to be remembered for fashion sense in a chemistry department- having a colour palette of more than 2 shades my clothing choices counted as interesting (I didn’t say that, a chemistry academic did). I was also asked by a colleague where this whole fashion thing came from.
I enjoyed being asked about my clothes because in the past, in a university environment, I have felt looked down on because I am considerate of what I wear and I like bright colours, but I was also surprised that someone noticed, or deemed me to have a “fashion thing”. But now I think about it fashion and clothing have always been a safety net for me.
Clothes are a way for me to demonstrate diversity in my interests, it means that when I am presenting or working on science or business, I can still retain some of the other precious parts of me that so often feel precarious or fragile. I can non-verbally communicate something else about myself and this is as much for me as it is for other people. It gives confidence and added dimensions to how I chose to express myself. I recognise that I require external representation to hold on to how I want to be perceived, is there anything wrong with that?
Perhaps this is particularly true or necessary for me, I like to hold on to femininity and creativity in worlds that can feel very masculine and unimaginative. For as long as I can remember I have dressed based on how I feel and the person I want to be that day. It is a very conscious choice and it represents who I am right to the core. Isn’t that the magical things about dressing. It is a way to externally represent ourselves on a daily basis, it means we get to reset every day, and it means I get to wrap myself with soft and cuddly representations of me, when I step out into what can seem to be a hard world.
I know that for many people dressing in certain ways is considered an act that takes courage or daring, for me, I have never felt nervous of wearing a certain thing, I see being noticed as a positive thing, not a negative one. Not to say that I don’t want to hide sometimes, but I generally do that by not leaving the house at all! If I have to, on a bad day, getting dressed is like putting on my armour (cliche, I know, but true).
It has also been a way for me to connect to people. Whether it is bonding with my mum when we go shopping, reading fashion magazines to engage with a more feminine view of the world than I experience in my every day life, or commenting on something that someone else is wearing to make a connection.
There are many parts of our lives where we feel like we “should” do things in a certain way, I have felt that in many parts of my life but one place I don’t feel it is in my clothes, I never feel I should wear this or I shouldn’t wear that. My first thought is always “am I comfortable for the tasks ahead of me today”.
Initially this blog was meant to just be the pictures that make up the second part of my River Island haul, but I felt like I had a few more things that wanted to say. Of course every time I get excited over clothes or talk about them as a means to express myself there are always other issues that start to creep in – fashion needs to be sustainable, fashion needs to be ethical and we must also remember that in many cultures women (in particular) are unable to express themselves through fashion. I know that there is a school of thought that fashion is flippant, or just about following the crowd but perhaps I should tackle my views on all of these things in a future blog (needless to say that the core of that blog will be about feminism).
I’m now going to go and salivate over my aztec carry on bag, which I am taking with me to the gymnastics World Championships a week on Friday – whoop whoop (not to compete just to watch)!
Enjoy the pics.