I know it's the outright cheesiest thing to say, but I really have always had a deep love for fashion since a very young age. Despite my humble reputation at school as "the quiet girl," I finally figured out how to grow into my own identity and I did that via my clothing. I started wearing handmade flower crowns (I was in my wannabe Coachella phase), platform-heeled boots, and layers of chunky necklaces to my suburban high school with abandon. I found myself going through a real transformation, kind of like in The Princess Diaries when Mia gets her famous makeover, except I wasn't becoming the princess of Genovia, I was just starting to wear loud clothes that my mum thought were weird. That period of experimentation that I went through is honestly what changed me to be the outspoken and confident person I am today. To some people, clothes are just clothes, but to me, they were the vessel that enabled me to discover, well, me.
Fast-forward many years to my now fashion-editor life, I am grateful I experienced those styling growing pains at a younger age, but that doesn't mean I haven't had a few personal style struggles over the years since. While this year has no doubt brought a lot of hardship, it's most of all, given us more time to ourselves and despite the hard instances that may bring at times, I have pushed myself to find the good in it when I can. With the pressures of getting quickly dressed to see others off my shoulders, I was able to truly take the time to figure what I actually liked, and reconnect with what hung in my closet. I knew I wasn't alone in this, because after a simple scroll through TikTok—the app that will prove you can relate to anyone—I found girls who were far younger and older enjoying clothes for no other reason but for the joy that styling and elements of design brought to them. And in an industry that works at such an incredibly fast pace, we often forget that isn't that what the real purpose of dressing was about? To make us feel good? I know it's common to believe that "adults" are the ones that know it all, but we all could learn from the care-free attitude we had at a younger age. When my 5-year-old niece pairs her sparkly leggings and unicorn top with even sparklier shoes, she reminds me of that childlike confidence I should have never let go of.
On the journey to discovering myself via my ever-changing aesthetic (more on that later), I've learned that personal style isn't just about the clothes you prefer, but it's a huge part of the process of finding the core of your identity. This year, since I've had more time on my hands to focus on myself, I was able to find that teenage girl who genuinely felt good in her clothes once again. I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't share what I've learned along the way, so keep on scrolling to read the lessons I've been prioritising to make sure I'm always dressing like me because there's simply no other way you should be dressing.
For a long time, I tried to fit myself into the mold of a specific style or aesthetic, because I thought that's what you were supposed to do. While that may be possible for some people, it's okay to have a style that's forever changing. We wouldn't be human if we didn't evolve. You can wear a cottage core blouse straight out of Bridgerton one day and go for a Parisian-inspired attire the next, we won't judge.
Sometimes I feel like a fraud wearing an outfit that should belong on someone cooler or better than me. Or if I go through a phase of just wanting to not make an effort, that means I'm not actually fashionable and I just try too hard. That's the imposter syndrome talking, and it's not the truth. There is no amount of success or level you need to reach to be able to dress the way you want. Also, embrace the days you don't want to dress up either. You're just as good enough on the days you wear jogging bottoms versus the day you pull out all the stops.
I love trends just as much as the next person, but it's important to understand you can follow trends and pinpoint what you truly will see yourself wearing amongst the mix. Trends will always leave and come back in never-ending rotation but wearing what you love and feel connected to? That's how you find a personal style.
Tip: Create a Pinterest board or mood board and add in images of anything that gives you inspiration in how you wish to dress, and slowly you'll get an idea of what you truly like vs. mindlessly following trends. Adjust the board to how you feel over time.
While I was so focused on trying to constantly get my hands on new clothing items to feel "trendy," I didn't realise that investing in accessories can make your wardrobe more versatile. The details in your look do matter, and just because they're a small part doesn't mean they're unimportant. Playing around with different hats or jewellery made getting dressed even more of a fun experience, and I was able to get more out of a select amount of clothing.
I've become a very careful and emotional shopper, something I picked up from obsessively watching Confessions of a Shopaholic. By picking pieces that I feel connected to on a level more than just "I like it," I'm much more inclined to invest in special pieces that I'll wear for a long time. For example, I was heavily obsessed with Marc Jacobs as a kid, but couldn't buy anything for obvious reasons. Despite there being more "trendy" brands now, I recently bought a Marc Jacobs top that I know I'll cherish for a long time, simply for the nostalgic purpose.
Don't knock it till you try it. Even if something seems like it's out of your style range, you may end up liking it. I used to be totally against wearing contrasting colours, simply because I felt like it wouldn't look right on me. Once I tried, it brought me such joy in getting dressed that it's the main component of my outfits now. If you experiment, you're able to figure out what makes you feel good and what doesn't.
In a world of social media, it can be overwhelming pulling inspiration from what everyone else around you is wearing, since it's changing so fast. I like to look at TV characters or old celebrities that have an iconic style because it proves that even though the trends are different, their outfits still stand today as some of the most fashionable looks. If an outfit Jennifer Aniston wore on Friends in 1997 is still widely loved, why am I worried about wearing a trend that's three months old?