My Style is Changing
Unpacking the media that have influenced it and the ones that push me to have fun with it .
It’s exciting and confusing. Sure, there are some things that are fundamentally the same, some things I’m wearing that I never thought I’d feel confident to wear, and other things I can’t believe I ever wore.
Fashion is one of my all-time favourite things. Personal style is another. They are not always the same thing, so I try and imagine them like a Venn diagram. Sometimes the things that are a part of your personal style are ‘in’ fashion and then sometimes they’re not. This is always interesting to witness. Maybe sometimes you learn of something because it’s ‘in’ fashion and then it becomes a part of who you are. Fashion is cyclical and so we all go in and out of fashion. Even caring about fashion can be ‘in’ fashion or not. Although, I think those who say they don’t care about fashion probably think that’s always how it is for most people.
At the school I teach at, the students don’t have to wear a uniform. This means each day I am presented with a lot of interpretations of personal style. There is a common thread that says, ‘alternative school’. Within that you can sometimes discern the interests of the students from what they are wearing.
Semiotics (or the study of signs) is something I am very interested in. As a result, I sometimes ‘read’ people through body language and what they are wearing. It is a double-edged sword. I would also say I am a little obsessed with how people present themselves. I wouldn’t say I am vain, but the preoccupation with representation, and especially the representation of self, can come across that way.
Although, I don’t have a full-length mirror.
I think there are a few things that have influenced my style. Some things have allowed me to explore certain elements of style in a different way. As we know with media, I don’t think it completely influences us, we have independent thought (supposedly! I’m being facetious, sort of) but sometimes we are predisposed.
When I was younger, I was a magazine fanatic. This is probably playing down the obsession. For that’s what it was. At the height of this magazine lovefest, I had over 5000. It was glorious. I’d say that magazines were the first thing that made me aware of fashion in a consumer type way. Before that I was all about Barbie. I loved putting her outfits together. They were never particularly creative. Matching was more important to me than self-expression, although matching can be seen as a form of self-expression.
When I was younger, magazines were aspirational. I was collecting Vogue as a teenager. As a result, I liked the idea of big bags with lots of pockets for the boardroom, wedding-guest appropriate attire and the season’s key pieces. Overlapping with this time of my life were three things, the introduction of Shop Till’ You Dropmagazine, fashion blogs and later, Elle Australia.
Firstly, I was now looking at magazines where I could afford what was in them OR, were more age appropriate. Even if I wasn’t buying exactly what was in the magazine, I had the autonomy to create something similar or go down an internet rabbit hole of emulating a similar vibe. It was exciting. And yes, I am aware of how much of this is caught up in consumerism.
Fashion blogs were one of the most exciting things I’d ever come across. I was obsessed with Karla’s Closet by Karla Deras (who now runs The Line by K), Shine by Three by Margaret Zhang (now the editor of Vogue China), Sara Crampton’s (nee Donaldson) Harper and Harley (influencer and founder of Undone Store) and Lady Melbourne by Phoebe Montague (who still blogs and is a lecturer) to name a few. There are so many fashion blogs I used to be obsessed with that I’ve forgotten the name of. I would pore of the images, the tiny paragraphs of text and obsess over the outfits, the way they spoke about fashion and how the sites were developing.
I had no interest in lifestyle bloggers, for me it was all about fashion.
Then, I discovered YouTube. And well, it was mainly about beauty, a little bit about clothes and vlogging. So yeah, I got sucked into the lifestyle stuff too. Around this time, a show on cable TV, Fashion Bloggers starring the aforementioned Margaret Zhang and Sara Crampton with a handful of other bloggers. Blogging was not a dirty word, and the term influencer was new. YouTubing was coming into my field of vision. During this time I bought, The New Garconne: How to Be a Modern Gentlewoman by Navaz Baltiwalla, a seminal point in my fashion life. To this day, this is still one of my favourite books. I credit this book with taking my personal style seriously, and by this, I mean I took dressing how I want to, for my own identity more seriously. I still read these articles whenever I need to anchor myself. And by this I mean I have spent too much time on Instagram and in Sportsgirl, getting caught up in things that are fun, but not really ‘me’.
Now my YouTube is a mix of fashion and lifestyle stuff but people who talk about clothes and only clothes are few and far between. I love BJones Style by Beth Jones but sometimes the fashion community can still be very much about rules for getting dressed. Beth’s favourite motto is ‘always play dress up’, another is ‘make it better with a blazer’. This is the kind of energy we need.
And this is part of it, it’s the energy. The Gentlewoman, a quarterly women’s magazine constantly inspires me with its focus on textures, craftsmanship and unique editorials. The spread about denim at the ATM was a favourite, as was the one featuring people in coats walking cats (pictured). As I get older its not so much about this piece or that, but more about the overall energy and lifestyle I want to create for myself and how that fits in with the life I lead. Recently I came across this article. And whilst I don’t own any jumpers by Celine, I resonated with the focus on owning what you love and mish mashing it together.
Today I spend time on Pinterest. I make boards called ‘work outfits’ and ‘details’. I spend time each month adding to the monthly board I call ‘May 2022’ or something equally creative. Ironically, Pinterest has been one of the least consumer driven medias I’ve interacted with when it comes to fashion. I am able to search by items I already own, or people’s style I already covet and build outfits that way. Every so often I print all the images out in colour (on the work printer) and make a poster for the inside of my wardrobe. I don’t always reference it directly, but I love having it there to help me along each time I pick an outfit.
Another huge influence on my style lately has been the influx of K-Drama I’ve been watching. I’ve always loved TV shows and movies as fashion inspiration; When Harry Met Sally, Vicki Vale in Batman, the guys in Queer Eye and how they help their subjects, Uma Thurman in every Tarantino film, The Nanny, all the Doris Day films, The Godfather and Michelle Pfeiffer as Michelle Pfeiffer and Jack Nicholson and Anjelika Houston. Glorious.
K-Drama’s are showing me something different right now. I’ve bought lipsticks (!), I’ve bought t-shirts that have featured on shows and both the male and female characters alike have been giving me so much to enjoy over and over. I then use these shows and actors to find outfits on Pinterest. The textures, the styles, the colours there’s so much to take in. It’s been the biggest treat.
To watch a show and be fulfilled when it comes to sartorial inspiration which I can then use as sartorial expression, it’s the perfect combination.