January 7th, 2015 at 2:00am

I’ve been accused of being overdressed and overstyled. I’ve been told that I’m too playful with my wardrobe. These are all indictments I can live with. Growing up in a small, conservative community in North Carolina that knew more about shotguns than shoes, I always knew I would stand out. So, I decided early on that I would embrace my uniqueness. As a result, whenever I get dressed, I revel in the crazy and make friends with the fabulously freakish. I’ll often create a character that I will dress as—for instance, in the ensemble pictured, I was going for a mix between ‘60s punk and 18th century dandy. I have one outfit I particularly enjoy that can only be described as “business-formal lumberjack.”

Nowadays, as a sophomore at Appalachian State University, I’ve had to meld my whimsy with a sense of practicality. No longer can I walk around in shorts and loafers in December, when wind chill alone can bring the temperature down to the wee single digits. In the Carolina mountains, we are all held captive by the weather’s sway, a concept that has brought me much closer emotionally to my trench coats and peacoats.

My academic background is almost as convoluted as my closet. I took a year off after high school, during which I helped coach a varsity swim team, supervised a staff of lifeguards and began my foray into fashion by helping design costumes for a ballet company. By the time I finally got to college, I had already started working on my resume. But costuming alone could never make me happy, and I knew that. So I decided to major in Apparel Design and Merchandising and minor in Dance.

I always thought my spirit animal was a pigeon, born to flit about between great, tree-like buildings, thriving off of the chaos of big-city bustle. Not exactly a glamorous animal, but I thought myself a true city-person, meant for the subways and the shouting and the never sleeping of any sprawling metropolis. Pigeons always seemed synonymous to me with big cities. However, ever since I moved to Boone, with its familiar small-town feelings of close-ness and comfort, I’ve come to love the eccentricities of the helter-skelter town. It is a town full of characters. I have learned how to make my nest here, and I’ve come to love it.

When it comes down to it, my philosophies about fashion and life go hand-in-hand. If you’re not enjoying yourself, do what it takes to change that.