‘In order to be irreplaceable one must always be different’– Coco Chanel
As we all know and have been told thought-out our lives either by the people we love, the friends we have or the fashion guru who tells us what looks good on us on the TV that there is only one of us and no one else is like us within this world. However to become an individual is to be an original, another statement that we might already know of but what about when it comes down to clothing and how we dress to show are originality? This idea of dressing to express ourselves seems to be an impossible challenge what with all the mass production fast fashion, trends and fixation with labelling. Question is…how do I find myself thought clothing? How do I showcase myself thought clothing without the fear of being judged, without the fear of imitation? Have you ever worn something so nice it made you feel confident and to embarrassingly find out that the person you just walked past or seen in the club are wearing the same outfit? Was it worse when they wore it better? Don’t you hate it when someone wears the same thing as you? Maybe this makes you feel less special…as if you’re just another body.
Maybe you’re lucky enough for that situation to not happen to you, maybe you can relate to this. Ever seen those types of people with their larger than life style, dare to wear attitude towards clothing as if they themselves was just right as a whole, clothing, personality the works. Yes maybe we see them on the TV and wonder “I want to dress like that” or “why can’t I look like them” and then go for it but somehow it doesn’t look as good on you as it did on them? Who is to be blamed for it? Is it those industries that endorse individuality in style to promote their Company and what they’re selling? Or is it us?
In the critical journal will be discussing companies that use identity and style to promote not just their company but a slight undertone of inadequacy such as TKMaxx and there advertisements for good deal designer labels. Also I will be referencing Christopher Breward and Caroline Evans’s Fashion and modernity. I will also be discussing on how to achieve originality and the source where others people might discover it. Including focusing on society’s judgement to the visual and how we can become written off as a sub culture and if not by cultural movements but by other people famous or otherwise such as the controversy between fashion icons Lady Gaga and Madonna, inspiration or imitation. I will be discussing my experiences relating to my question, focusing on how I tried to discover myself and the result of my identity though my attire today. Again studying my family members from my point of view and how thought my observation though the years, and there feelings towards characteristics and clothing. Also I will be looking upon my final fashion collection and how I dared to be myself and show myself thought-out my work eventually finding out how to become an individual though clothing.
I am an individual who loves to dress to express myself, I wear clothing to reflect my mood so if I feel pretty I would dress in garments that I have created myself inspired by the 1950s era because that would be my option to do so, simply because I love that sexy and feminine look. Maybe I would have a down day because not every day I would want to be completely made over, I might want to dress in a plain tee-shirt and I’m happy with the way I dress. However this took me years to find myself thought clothing I and always had a struggle fitting in and finding myself. Years in fashion education has made me love design and has made me become a very observant person in fashion and trend awareness. From as far back as I can recall when I used to mostly dress in old wool jumpers and hats that once belonged to my mum, ill-fitting jeans, no makeup and messy hair styles…
I’ve always wanted to be popular, not be so ordinary and to become noticeable person so much so I started dressing in the same outfits as the popular students hoping to become more identifiable thus becoming a part of their social group and as I was a quiet person at the time, I relayed on my clothing to speak for me. This theory failed because my personality has to be like the very people I tried to emulate, but you can’t be someone who you aren’t. Eventually though the years I decided that it was too much effort to please others and wanted to become different and find who I was, not to seek approval from other people’s opinions and the social pressure to change.
Not being recognizable with my peers gave me low self-esteem and made me feel invisible. I tried experimenting with looks I found from trends unknowingly that I was finding inspiration sub cultures. These changes would only last only a short period of time because I was finding myself and whatever I wore did not feel right to me, as if I was being someone who I was not. The sub cultures I went thought where: Punk Rock. As I dressed in mostly black clothing and sporting black and white checked wristbands you would see on the markets of Camden…
…straight long black hair cross my face as I wanted a sense of mystery to make people intrigued by me so I could become noticeable…
…and big black lace up leather looking boots…
…because I couldn’t afford to get the name brand Dr. Martians nor go all out Goth otherwise my family would think I was mad, which they did not knowing I was suffering with an identity loss. I soon realized that my bubbly personality did not fit the clothes and soon wanted to match my personality to the clothes I wore. The era of the 1980’s, with the bright tees and colours…
…but with all my experiments I only ever went in half heartedly, deep down I didn’t feel right. Sure my clothing was bright and so was I but I didn’t look right. Maybe if I dress comfortably and wear things that I liked at the time then it could be possible that this would be for me. Street wear, again I wore old tracksuits that once belonged to my brother because I could not afford my own. When I realized I looked more tomboy than girl I prettied it up by wearing makeup and stone diamante earrings.
. I wanted to feel comfortable, look beautiful and of course become feminine. Eventually I just stopped bothering, I gave up my attempts and thought that it was an impossible task. Then I found Retro/Vintage, feminine clothing with all the comfortableness I required. It was beautiful, sweet and this suited me very well.
I knew this was me. But if I loved it no doubt in this wide world that other would think so to, another person and so on. Therefore a style which I found that I belonged to is now an identity shared and I am not special anymore. There will be other people who desire to dress in the same way as myself without even knowing me. As selfish and deluded as it sounds I found this style first and it’s mine not to be stolen or re-created. Can I dress uniquely without someone else copying me?
That special something that makes yourself you, whether it’s the way you dress, act or even present yourself. Whatever that might be you are unique. But you want to dress uniquely and for that you need to create special one-off and different. Where do you go, to the high street? Well this fast fashion within the stores, trend after trend and many stores having near enough the same items of clothing you saw in the next, there’s a chance that something you bought someone else would have the same because they like it too. Surely if I collect different and interesting things from various markets and shops I could create something that no one else has, unlikely that someone is going to create the same style that I’m trying to achieve. Why do we feel the need to place people in “boxes” in where we fit in to society?
Put in boxes
This is because there is a lot of judgement in society with fashion, age, mannerisms and personal views. Let’s say you would dress or even act a certain way that may be similar characteristic to another crowd and society or the person who would critic you would assume you belong to that group based by their opinion alone whether or not that knows you. I would imagine that this kind of unfair judgement would happen frequently as this is a part of human survival skill which at times becomes unnecessary. Lady Gaga is a music superstar and fashion icon who is known not just for her chart topping hits but mostly for her one of a kind and out the box creativity in style, the very concept she promotes.
‘I dress this way all the time because it inspires my life, I dress this way because my whole life is art and my whole life is performance’. – Lady Gaga
Lady Gaga encourages her fans that may be lost when finding their identity and have trouble being expressive;
‘Sometimes in life you don’t always feel like a winner, but that doesn’t mean you’re not a winner, you want to be like yourself. I want my fans to know it’s okay’ – Lady Gaga
However Queen of Pop and 1080’s style icon Madonna has been on a media controversy with Gaga because she thinks that Lady Gaga is nothing more than an imitator as well as many Madonna fans agreeing with her statement saying that Gaga is ‘reductive’. Lady Gaga is her own person and a bold one at that.
Her vision to express though clothing is boundless, this comes from not just her thoughts but influences which have inspired her throughout her life. These ideas of hers are seen as art and make Gaga her,
‘My fashion is part of who I am, and though I was not born with these clothes on, I was born this way’- Lady Gaga
She has been put in this category, this “box” of being an unoriginal copy cat and like many other celebrities such as Nicki Minaj (whom has been said to be copying former US Rap artist before her Lil Kim which provocative Harajuku style
…and I realize I myself am placing them under a subculture) and UK R&B Pop singer Rita Ora (whom has said to be copying US R&B singer Rihanna.
Uniqueness has become a trend what with all the Street style and “look what I’m wearing” pages and online websites like Vogue and LOOK magazine showing young adults in their own clothing and judged and picked out by the editor of said publication to place into magazine to promote the trend of individualism.
It’s strange now the editors would pick out the trendy look of qwerky distinctiveness from the dull, as if being myself isn’t good enough…isn’t being me fashionable enough? And why should it become a fashion trend for others to copy? And now designers and high street labels advertising store-bought eccentricity instead of creating that look of your own with your own imagination, all the hard work has been created for you for a price, once you would look on the TV or see someone in the street wondering how to look like them and now it achievable. TK Maxx advertising loads for young “uniquely” dressed people showing clothing which can be once individual style with the quote;
“Love your style, respect your money”- TKMaxx
and now popular vintage clothing, whether it’s a boutique shops like Absolute Vintage and Beyond Retro or charity shops, this second-hand trend has gotten more and more popular within mainstream fashion that even the prices in the charity stores are the same prices as high street clothing forgetting that it’s charity therefore it should be inexpensive because the clothing is second-hand and money goes towards the less fortunate or otherwise. Everybody what to be different and to be noticed but when another person loves your style you get imitators who copy your style that you’ve created and that’s when you would might create groups, clichés or trends.
I remember in secondary school all the pupils had to wear the proper school attire set by the rules of the school board of education which still stands today, My uniform was a navy blue jumper…
…straight legged trousers (or the other option of a black pleated skirt), white shirt (or a polo shirt with the school logo embroidered on) and sensible shoes which would be purchased at school uniform clothing shop specifically catered to all uniforms from schools around the borough of which the store was located. These were shoes with no embellishment or style to them whatsoever, many student including myself with try to get anyway with a rhinestone here or a leather bow there however if caught seen with the wrong footwear they would be sent home to change or wear plain plimsolls. There was always one student within the class that would break the rules to be different and the uniform dress code was so strict you could only get away with styling your hair in a chic way applying lager amounts of hair gel, slide clips and waves made with a fine tooth comb if that. Once word got around that creativity cannot be stopped and the teacher have given up on teaming that student then more students started to be rebel.
Shallowness. To gain respect and popularity by appearance was important in school; if you were to wear school clothing guided correctly by the rules made you would surely not be looked twice upon. When the uniforms started to change girls would wear trainers into school a claim that her shoes were “damaged” or embellished shoes claiming that it was they could afford, school ties where shorter than normal with brooches or badges added to them paired with open collared shirts and before you know groups of student were all wearing the same thing, trainers, short ties (even get away without any tie, chain necklaces (or big earrings) with lips plastered with super glossy stick fruit scented lip-gloss…
…just like you would see on a high school clique cliché movie. Even religious girls wore patterned head scarves with embellished pins. Teachers would make you change back into the schools way of dressing which makes it seem like they are conforming to schools norms especially when parents, future students and school boards came to observe to school but you can’t stop self-expression, everyone wanted to express themselves however the new style was the school attire which even had its own slang to finish. But you see one persons expression of identity is another person’s trend and then another and another till the “trend setter” is accused of following the same trend. Another example was when I started wearing plastic nerd like glasses but I removed the clear glass because I wanted to be different and show my qwerkyness.
And so I wore them even in different colours but then I soon noticed that other people mainly young girls started to copy. Naturally I was shocked and a little outraged that a tiny thing of uniqueness I created or re-created from this Prep sub culture had others copying me. And so when I stopped wearing the glasses I told my friends that I started that trend with the nerd specs without lenses and they didn’t believe me, all I wanted to do is to stand out.
But why do we feel the need to stand out and feel that we blend in and why do we want to? Is this because I didn’t like other people wearing the same clothes as me? Perhaps which makes me wonder if people see this and would do this “who wore what better” critique on my clothing again? Is this because of my self-esteem, that I feel invisible as a person and the more invisible I become the more lost and unrecognizable I’ll feel? Or could this more complicated than I thought? That I dress up and showcase myself as bold and bright or as quirky as I can be, a look that says “look at me world and notice me!” Do we need that attention, to feel important, to feel worthy? There are those sort of people who dress up from head to toe in expensive designer clothing, well-groomed by the sleekest hair stylists and walk as if there on the runway at London Fashion Week, simply to show people like me who wonder how what and where about them however not knowing whether that’s their true self or a fake persona to guard themselves from the negativity from people or life, their way of having thick skin.
However when I look around in my neighbourhood I see many people in such dull attire, boring and plain as if the life has gone from them, as if there are afraid to dress to express.
‘Everybody looks like everybody else’ (Breward: 2005).
‘Indistinguishable by their clothing’- Andrew Hill.
Maybe they don’t care what others think and don’t let people opinions dictate their lives.
Followers and leaders
Even on TV the reality programmes such as The Only Way Is Essex better known as TOWIE and Made in CHELSEA based upon the day-to-day life of people living luxurious and scandalous lives in Essex and Chelsea Kensington. Their way of lifestyle and clothing has become desirable to youth culture till the point that it is becoming a new subculture itself.
The Essex manner usually involves tanned skin or to achieve bronze perfection otherwise is to apply fake tan, lengthy and expensive hair extensions, absurd amounts of makeup including false eye lashes and heightened hairstyles…
…and this look would only be achieved by beauty cosmetics alone however in extremes for beauty they have no shame towards cosmetic surgery such as Botox and Filler injections. Their clothes are revealing, noticeable within colour and surprisingly expensive…
…with a touch of trademark Essex Bedazzling however the cast of Made in Chelsea may have some similarities except they aren’t fanatics of fake tan and revealing outfits. There attire says “classy, posh and sophisticated” with all their possessions to be very expensive.
This subculture has been the starting point of most people’s style and it appears that if you originate from that area you must look like that sub culture, which would be your identity.
Is dressing diverse steamed from subcultures? It’s reminds me of Teddy boys/ dandy sub culture within men.
Nowadays some may call it being a Metro sexual, when men appreciated their skin care to buy products, cared about they looked as much as a woman would and wore clothing not just to be clothed but to look good with the intention of being noticed. However more modernised, TOWIES’s Joey Essex can be seen as Fop- like, his mannerisms are somewhat daft and amusing especially when it comes to his appearance,
he tends to set trends no matter how unusual they maybe likely thinking that it’s his own style. It is unsure that he and other cast member from fashion influencing programmes know that their identity originates from past fashion sub cultures. Even in sports Bradley Wiggins Olympic gold medallist in cycling has his own style identity, recognized for those unmistakable trade mark side burns fashioned from 1960 Mods…
…and now he has adopted the clothing also that now fellow men desire to emulate his style. Mod style was created in the late 1950s and mid 60s which originated in London England. It was influenced by music such as Jamaican ski, British beat music and African American soul to name a few.
What clothing represents
Might it say delinquent? Maybe your attire might say that you’re crazy or even easy and promiscuous? Sociality takes a look on people and judges them which are the norm but what if it’s done unfairly? My eldest brother…
…is hard-working and kind-hearted however if society was to look upon him with a critical sense on his appearance they would think to be cautious. I think he is unaware that the way he presents himself has been related to a street wear subculture whereas you would also see use of tracksuits and hood tops.
Society tells us that anyone clothed in that attire would be seen as a gang or troublesome and it’s all by judging or under assumption. Not all people who wear jogging bottom and hoodies are criminals and uneducated delinquents. Whether or not this attire happens to be categorized a youth subculture. The same would go for any other person who would be categorizing in a sub cultural status based on clothing. Someone dressed in Punk attire wouldn’t be a disruptive corrupt atheist…
…or if someone was to look like a Chav…
…wouldn’t necessarily be a knock off designer wearing, violent and delinquent Brit.
They all might favour the style or that it’s convenient, affordable or right for weather and situation. Without knowing the person people judge by what others have said, past situations or assumptions which can lead to racism and predigest. My aunt loves to dress up and look beautiful, she has her own style. She sport, chic and loves close-fitting garments that shape her curves and shows her off figure that’s if she wore clothing that did that but that’s not her She knows herself, she dresses to feel good to what is right to others. The weather may be harsh, cold with rain, snow or otherwise which restricts us from dressing how we would like to. Like any sensible and person we would dress warm with layers of clothing and jackets and appropriate footwear. Dressing practically isn’t a crime or one that shouldn’t face judgement even if we can’t express ourselves to the extent we would like. For example my aunt…
…to someone who wouldn’t know her personally or seen her in other types of outfits would judge her based on what she wears and not she’s like.
‘I wear the clothes; I don’t make the clothes wear me’. – Liz (Aunty)
Some would say she’s a Tomboy; a subculture based on androgyny and can be viewed as a lesbian which is unfair and very critical. Not all women feel comfortable in a dress or skirt and not all women feel comfortable in trousers but because of history and social norms they are different if not conformed. Or a Rasta, based on her long locks and ethnicity, the subculture inspired by Street fashion and influenced by Caribbean music and clothing. Will I just been seen as a subculture and not by who I am, an individual person?
My mother told me that the inspiration that got her the passion of designing clothing is not only old-time movies set black and white in the 1940s but so that no other person would be able to dress the same as she does. Till this day she wears one of designs with materials she bought and gathered though her many years of seam stressing…
…with on lookers wondering where she bought her garments to try to get same. There’s been countless times when she has been ahead of fashion without buying a single item of clothing from a high street store and reading the latest style forward magazines or any news about the ongoing trends in the world which always leaves me guessing “how are you ahead of fashion without knowing what’s in (style)?”, and yet she has her own individual style. She dresses in what she likes and what is comfortable without neither second guessing her age, shape, size nor class. It is to my knowledge she is neither unaware nor uninterested whether sub consciously her style comes from a sub cultural background or not.
Tea Party Fashion Collection
Based on the vintage social gathering of traditional tea parties, this collection shows garments shaped as tableware found at a tea party event. This includes a dress sewn into the shape of a tea cup, peplum tops to resemble icing, a cake stand and a tea-pot with a pantomime like handle and spout as you would see on an actual teapot to name just some of the garments that I’ve created.
I wanted to make my collection very different and playful that reflects my individuality though the collection. I have a big fascination with 1950s vintage clothing as well as my love for craft and baking, I knew those where my true passions in life and reflected who I am as a person. So being that it would be my last collection I wanted to combine all my favourite things and my personality into this Tea Party collection of outfits. I find it a much easier way to express my individualism onto fashion like most designers, runway collections aren’t just clothes there’re art, moving breathing art that speaks without words. Usually when I see students’ work it’s the typical trending and beautiful collections of shape, colour and creativeness you would find at Graduate Fashion week show which is boring as if I’ve seen it done before.
There has been countless times I wanted to such bold and expressive costumes but I would be too scared to express myself thinking that it would be silly and then I would see it done by someone else which would make me think “why didn’t I just follow my mind”. I am very pleased with my creation mainly because no-one else has this idea of mine, I’ve found a way to showcase not just my talent but myself though fashion. The details of appliquéd cutawaypatchwork combined with many variations of fabrics of bright colours, patterns and pastel hues make it eye-catching. However others have done the patch work appliqué technique in design but the great thing about fashion is that it is endless depending on one’s creativity despite the fact that fashion repeats itself. Anyone who knows me knows that this collection is me and those that don’t will know though my personality if not by my clothing as I continue the struggle of being unique, but creating your own look by fashion design and sewing the trick to individualism. Maybe? But then it would it be really individual if everybody started going to a seamstress, tailor or became designers?
How do I become an individual?
To become an individual is to ignore social pressure and to be yourself. To dress in whatever feels comfortable for you and in order to show your personality one cannot just dress but express your personality. The clothes you wear are just merely clothes; it’s your character that makes the garments come alive. However if you feel strongly on wanting to represent yourself thought your clothing it would be best to design and create your own clothing and now matter if someone was to wear the same clothing as you, they still wouldn’t be you.
Hope you enjoyed reading this long critical journal, it was very difficult on part but it’s done!