I am a huge advocate of taking risks when it comes to fashion. It is what makes it such an interesting and expressive art form. Which is why, a common piece of advice I give is to not take fashion too seriously. This week, I just want to empower you guys to have fun with your fashion choices. Push the limits on what you think you can pull off. Go for that look you have always wanted to rock, but never did because fear stifled your creativity.
I, myself, have always tried (emphasis on TRIED) to stomp fearlessly down the catwalk of life in the most fabulous outfits I can think of, but I would be telling a bold faced lie if I were to say my looks have never flopped. Now, this “be you and don’t care what people think” attitude is preached out to us from all sides today in the states. This attitude truly can be helpful in gaining some confidence, when used to a certain degree. However, the elite of our society are on a huge “everyone is perfect just as they are and anyone who does not think so is wrong ” kick. This is a message that contradicts itself. If everyone is perfect the way that they are, then their preferences, likes, and dislikes are as well. I just know this to be false. We are flawed creatures, and trying to live in delusion of that fact is not “fierce” or “confident”. It is just delusional. Now, let us not go crazy and say that you can not be appreciated or confident in yourself because of your flaws. Confidence is rooted in truth. That is why people are the most confident about the things that they know the most about. Whether religion, profession, intelligence, identity, athletic ability, or fashion; the more you learn the truth about something, the more confident you will be.
All this to say, it is important to take responsibility for what you do. That applies to everything in life, and in fashion, it looks like making conscious choices and backing them with reasons. Hindsight is 2020, and we need to be able to look back at a style moment and be able to admit if we were misguided and wrong about putting together a look. I do believe this will happen less often if we make every choice about what we put on with conscious reasons in mind for what our goals were with the ensemble in question. Now, there will always be differing opinions on what is cute or appropriate. That is when we have to be ready to make peace with the fact that not everyone is going to love our style. There is 100% nothing wrong with that. Also, if we make purposeful decisions about our style, there is less room for interpretation on what we are going for if we do it well. The best way to start clearly communicating what we are going for when dressing is to practice and experiment. To improve we must fail, and to fail we must try new things. This, like many of the other concepts I talk about, applies to more than just fashion. But, let us keep it focused on fashion for the purpose of this blog post.
Now, comes the part of the show where I tear down the curtain to give you guys a glimpse into some of the failures that have brought me to the point I am at with my personal style. We will begin with the duct tape… So, when I first started showing real interest in fashion around age thirteen; I was infatuated with duct tape. It was colorful, and could be used in so many ways. If you do not know where this is going… yes, I started making accessories for myself out of duct tape. I did not keep any of my creations, sadly, for a show and tell moment. So, I will try to paint a picture. I created neon blue and green wallets, baby blue wristbands, neon orange and pink sandals, all different colors of bow ties, and slip on shoes. Honestly, I think Toms stole my idea for their famous slipper-like shoe; I had those all in duct tape baby! It was a moment, and it honestly helped nurture my creativity in working with unconventional material to make a conventional item. However, it lasted a little too long; I would say. And, yes, this picture was taken at my 15th birthday party. I was doing this in high school, y’all! I think my parents made the right call in homeschooling me, because I can only imagine how bad the bullying would have been in school compared to the bullying I received already within my sheltered, homeschooled life. Now, like I said, fashion does not have to be taken super seriously. But, duct tape accessories, especially at the caliber I was creating, are not cute on anyone except the four-foot, eight-inches of loud, bubbly, hamster-like magic that I was when I was thirteen. I held onto that style journey a little too long. I learned a lot from this, though. I learned how to construct things, which would later help me in design school. I learned that not all color combinations are fabulous (especially in neon), and that while some of my ideas about style were good, they could be executed better.
Another example that stands out to me, is my more recent obsession with crop tops and short shorts. This one is a little more raw, because this goes all the way up to current day Adam’s fashion choices. I love a cropped top and will defend a cute, cropped look probably until the day I die, but there are times where it works and times where it does not. The main reason I think this is one of my fashion faux pas along my style journey, is because of my reasons for wearing my crop tops and short shorts at times. I started wearing cropped looks in college; a time when I had a new found freedom and was trying to see where I fit into the world. This led to some questionable fashion moments to say the least. Some people really hated the idea of men wearing crop tops simply because in some minds, it is a strictly female garment. To which I like to remind people that cropped sweaters, vests, and shirts were worn by lots of men in the 80’s disco era. So, know more than just the last decade of trends before you come for someone else’s style, or of course you can always keep your mouth shut. The same can be said for heels, but that is another story for another time. Now, the other reason that I got backlash for my crop tops and short shorts was for the issue of modesty. This is the reason that gives validity to times I would consider a few looks unsuccessful. I come from a conservative family that holds modesty as a high priority, when it comes to dressing, because of our belief in the Bible. I am easily the one in my family that has tested the boundaries of modesty. And to this day, what I would consider to be modest is not what others that hold similar beliefs to me consider modest. During my time in college, I definitely wore things that were provocative and what I would consider immodest if I were to look objectively at myself. Those times are when I would consider my style to be unsuccessful, because it did not represent me as a person. It was more about throwing it in someone’s face who had called me out. So, this taught me the lesson that it is not always what you wear but how you wear it, which can be just as important as what you actually physically put on.
These photographs made me think of taking risks, because the pants are my own unique design and construction. And, they were part of my senior collection. They are a little snug on me, but as a concept I love the simplicity of them. The two quirky elements of the exposed buttons for the fly and the patch pockets that straddle the side seams add a little bit of flare. This sweater was a risk, because I once thought this color was the ugliest color I had ever seen. That perspective changed in my color theory class in college when I realized how complex this color was. This was because of the colors that you have to mix to make it, and how it can then be easily paired with so many other colors. I pair it with this vintage L.L. Bean Coat (you guessed it, thrift store find), because the yellow that is only one part of this complex color pairs nicely with the red in the coat. This works because these colors are analogous. The brown corduroy cuffs on the coat somehow match the sweater as well, because they contain a similar orange in the color mixture of the sweater.
TAKE A RISK! If it works beautifully, you have one more tool in your fashion tool belt. If it does not work, find out why, then add that to your rolodex of knowledge about your personal style.