I’m a person who needs change. Consequently, I have gotten used to moving around and starting over. For me, the past few years have been characterized by bouncing around the country, from my parent’s home in San Jose, Calif., to my college campus in Washington, D.C., and many locales in between. While spending time in all these places, I’ve started to pick up on the subtle differences that give them character. But more than anything, I’ve noticed the differences in how people dress.
My guy friends from home would light seersucker shorts on fire before they would wear them, but they’re all over my school. When a friend from Boston dropped me off in Manhattan, he looked out the car window at all the bright colors and crazy shapes walking down Broadway, shook his head, and said, “People seriously wear the weirdest shit here.”
Not only do I notice variations in how others dress, I notice differences in how I dress when I am in each place. I always care about how I look, and I like to think I have a pretty defined style. But I adjust my daily rotation of clothes depending on where I am. At home in California, I wear things that are more casual and funky to fit the Bay Area’s atmosphere. In D.C., it’s preppier basics and feminine silhouettes that seem at home in such a conservative town. In New York, it’s been slightly more fashion-forward ensembles. Here in the concrete jungle, I find myself itching to do things that I would normally scoff at, like dying my hair lavender or wearing wedge sneakers.
When I think about how differently I dress (or maybe more how I want to dress) depending on my geographic location, I wonder if I’m being true to myself. Am I just doing this to fit in?
To some degree, I think the answer is yes. We all want to be accepted and to look like we belong —that’s human nature. We observe and we assimilate. But then I think, am I assimilating because I’m scared to be different? Do I just not want people to think I’m wearing “the weirdest shit”? Do I want to be like the people around me so they think I’m cool? Am I a total poser?!
Sometimes it’s hard not to feel that way. But to be perfectly honest, if I had to wake up every morning and dress in the exact same style, I would be bored to tears. Why? Because dressing the same way day after day would mean taking on the exact same persona all the time. And like I said, I need change. I love cycling through these different roles — the laid-back California girl, the District coed, and now the New York fashion intern. It keeps things interesting. Furthermore, these are all facets of my true self. It’s not as if the real me is hiding behind any of them. The real me is all of them. I would never want to choose one, and if I ever did, that’s when I would really stop being me.
So, I started thinking of it like this: imagine you are directing a play. You take an actor and put her in costume and give her a set on which to create her character. If you took that actor and put her against a completely different backdrop, but left her in the same costume as before, the world of the play would cease to make sense. Suspension of disbelief would be impossible.
That’s how I feel about fashion. I need my costume to make sense in order to immerse myself and be able to play my part. And because my environment is constantly changing, I need to change with it.