“I don’t get why some girls feel the need to dress up for school. I mean, it’s school. Who are you trying to impress?”
Sitting in homeroom my junior year of high school, I overheard another girl say this and then outwardly sunk into my chair. Although I knew the words weren’t directed toward me, I couldn’t help but take them personally. Donning a floral dress, a pair of black flats, and a gold statement necklace, I felt like a prime example of my classmate’s criticisms. I couldn’t wait for the bell to ring, and I practically leapt out of my seat when it finally did. I spent the rest of the day mulling over the comment, wishing I’d had the courage to articulate just how incorrect it was.
That wasn’t the only time I heard someone talk about what another classmate was wearing. Now that I think about it, half of the gossip that carried through the school halls was comprised of ‘can you believe what they have on today?’ or ‘would you look at that?’ If a student dressed up, they were trying too hard. if a student dressed comfortably, they had no sense of style. There was no way to escape social judgement when it came to fashion, and I honestly don’t know why. But what I do know is that for some weird, outlandish, eyebrow-raising reason, we as a society have a real problem with other people’s clothes.
As someone who loves fashion, I despise this. Style represents a lot more than just clothes. Above everything else, it’s a form of self-expression and creativity. Outfits can reflect moods and feelings, ideas and memories. Off the top of my head, I can picture several items in my closet that mean a lot to me despite being pieces of fabric, and I am certain I’m not the only person who feels that way.
While I wasn’t deeply affected by the comment made by my classmate, it did stick with me. I think about it every now and then and wonder how it might have affected someone else. It takes courage to wear something bold or attention-getting. I know from my own experiences that when you first really start experimenting with your style, you’re bound to encounter a few concerns, especially as you’re walking out the door. (Seriously, I couldn’t tell you the number of times I’ve caught myself thinking ‘am I sure this looks right?’ just as I was about to leave the house).
Whether you care for it or not, style matters to people. For a lot of us, it’s a creative outlet, and it’s one that takes time to develop and grow comfortable with. I love clothes, but I haven’t always loved dressing up. And while that’s another post for another time, I think the idea behind it stands as important in this scenario as well. Finding the courage to dress up can be a challenge in and of itself. No one needs the added sense of judgement.
I like fashion. I get excited about putting outfits together, stumbling upon old pieces in my closet, and finding ways to pair them with new ones. I don’t dress up to impress anyone; I dress up because I want to and because it makes me happy. That should be enough to satiate curiosity. And in an ideal world, I would be able to end the blog post right there on that note.
Top * (similar): Madewell
Pants * (similar): SheIn
Unfortunately, that isn’t the case. Because, as I mentioned earlier, we just can’t seem to stop talking about one another’s wardrobe. And we don’t only criticize people who like dressing up; we also do it to those who don’t. If you aren’t dressed up, you lack style. There’s no way around the judgement.
Which brings me to a question. A serious, genuine question.
Why does it matter what another person is wearing? How does it affect anyone else in any way? Whether you spend hours or seconds planning your outfits, you shouldn’t have to fret over what other people are going to say about them. Your outfits should not be subject to scrutiny. By no means is style a good criteria to judge someone by.
So, my parting thought is this: If you want to dress up, dress up. If you want to dress down, dress down. What you wear shouldn’t be up for conversation. After all, it’s you who’s wearing it, not anyone else.
Thank you for reading!
Have you ever been judged for what you were wearing?
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