I haven’t had a subscription to any of the glossy magazines in a while, with the exception of InStyle, a holdover which I’ve allowed to auto-renew every couple of years. I’d skip through all of the celebrity and breathless red carpet features in favor of the “How To Wear X” types of pictorials and articles, which over the years became more and more scarce. When I read that the future editorial direction of the magazine would be even more celebrity-focused, I knew I’d be canceling my subscription. I’m glad I didn’t jump right on it, though, as this one-page piece by Leandra Medine of Man Repeller in the March issue made it worth flipping through.
I’ve been a big fan of Medine for many years. For her quirky style for sure, but also for her smart, witty and irreverent view of fashion and our relationship to it. And I especially liked this piece, which dives into the concept of “originality” and our ongoing fascination with unconventional style.
Look at street-style photography. We often complain about how downright fake the photos from Fashion Week can feel. But we’ve been conditioned to believe that the craziest, loudest outfit wins. And here’s where we run into a problem: If you’re trying that hard to achieve originality, is it authentic? Isn’t genuine nonconformity effortless, like breathing or blinking?
As a style blogger, I haven’t been immune to the pressure to come up with outfits that are new and different and bolder and brighter and more complex than what I’d instinctively assemble. I don’t get a lot of negative feedback on my outfits, but the comments that make me question myself usually include the word “boring.” I mean, who wants to be boring? Is “knowing what works and sticking to it” just a cover for lack of imagination?
But then I’ll see an outfit or design somewhere so beautifully simple, clean and elegant, or understatedly cool, and it will evoke an instantaneous gut reaction of “yes, THIS!” And it reconnects me with what feels authentic in my style. Boring to some, perhaps, but simple, elegant, cool style is what has always inspired me most.
But the heart wants what it wants! So who are we to deprive ourselves of what the trenches of our gut say we need? Our gut is sometimes annoying, and it’s pesky, and we can get it mixed up with weird, negative voices in our heads; but it’s also very rarely wrong.
So I try to remember that one person’s “boring” is another’s “sublime.” And that even when I admire another’s quirky, bold, More Is More style, it doesn’t mean that I’m on the wrong track with my own. Style should never feel forced. Standing out for its own sake isn’t my goal. Feeling good in what I’m wearing is.
When I think about my authentic style, it’s rooted in a certain practicality with an infusion of a little drama and verve. Jeans and a tee or sweater. Black. A long outer layer. Bold jewelry. A standout bag or shoes. Ease. Harmony. Movement. Modernity. A little Edge occasionally. And yes, trying new things from time to time, continuing to evolve and stay current.
Here’s what I recommend: Instead of thinking, “How can I stand out?” ask yourself, “What would make me happiest? What do I need to do to get there?” And then do that.
I couldn’t agree more!
What do you like to wear that feels completely authentic?