In fourth grade, my parents took me on a trip to Paris, France. I thought I was the coolest person in the world. I bragged about it to my friends for months before the trip and years afterward. I had never been to such a worldly city before, and I knew it was my chance to see the latest styles firsthand and bring them home to my small town in Kentucky.
To me, it was my grand entrance into the world of fashion. However, it was also the first time I realized that fourth graders in Kentucky—or anyone in Kentucky, really—were not ready for the culture shock of Parisian street style-inspired outfits in the elementary school classroom. I tried for a long time to dress in the chic ways of the French girls I had the privilege of witnessing in real life, but the cattiness of young girls and the intolerance for creativity in such a small town weighed down on me until I broke. I gave up and went back to my Limited Too-wearing ways like everyone else around me.
You’re probably wondering how any of this is relevant, but it is! I haven’t come to dress the way I do out of originality and an innate sense of stylishness, because I’ve been trained from a young age to suppress those traits as much as possible. Rather, my style has come from a deep, true love for fashion and a lack of bravery to fully express that passion. To this day, I dream of wearing beautiful, wild outfits that make people stop and stare. Instead I’ve adopted a minimalist aesthetic—plain outfits with inconspicuous twists, so that at least I’ll know I’m being stylish even though no one else will notice.
The art of creating personal style is not something you should learn from me—or anyone else for that matter. It’s something you should learn by ignoring the rest of the world and embracing yourself. As Hannah Bronfman once said (in our #OfficeHours podcast!), “People will always try to put you in a box, but you just have to keep continuously breaking out of that box.” Don’t listen to me, and don’t listen to anybody else. Let the art of creating personal style come from yourself.