the evolution of my style
AKA, an avalanche of awkward photos.
Growing up, I never really thought I'd have my own fashion-related blog one day. I read a few blogs regularly, and started following bloggers on Instagram during college, but I never truly thought it would be something I'd pursue (and then stick with).
I was late to the Instagram craze; I didn't regularly use the app until 2013, in my first year at university. At first, I posted whatever caught my fancy. I remember my first post was a picture of a cat — a lovable stray — that liked to wander around my dorm complex. When I went vegan in 2014, I set out to create a food blog. Most of my Instagram posts were tailored to the vegan-friendly food audience. If you were to scroll to the end of my Instagram feed, you'd still see a few remaining photos from that era.
Clearly, I wasn't always obsessed with fashion. I did take time and pride in planning out how I would dress, but my style was very fluid. I tested out many different styles, but never really found something that stuck until now. Today, I lean towards timeless, classic, and tailored pieces that blend masculine and feminine style; but, as with everything, one has to start somewhere.
Presenting: my style evolution.
I'm nine years old and am just beginning to have some say in what clothes my mom buys for me. My hair has a widow's peak, so I always have bangs to hide it. (Mom's idea, not mine.) I was lucky enough to get my ears pierced for my ninth birthday. I'm shrimpy, skinny, and pants don't really fit me properly. Along comes The Gap.
Mom's shopped for me at Gap Kids for ages. On one such trip, during which I am accompanying her, we discover that — surprise! — regular jeans are too big in the waist for me. (This is a common problem that will follow me to adulthood.) But never fear, because — surprise! — Gap's kids' line carries jeans in a slim cut, with — wait for it — an adjustable inner waistband. (Where is that technology for women's pants in 2018, I ask you?)
Gap's adjustable jeans are a game-changer. With pants always big on me, I developed a habit of constantly wearing a belt (see below). Adjustable jeans are great. Mom and I also spend a lot of time in the Nordstrom kids' section, and I start to pick out more of my own clothes. I'm not exposed to magazines just yet (besides American Girl), so I go along with what the other girls at school are wearing. Speaking of American Girl though... I occasionally match with my doll.
Also known as, "label mania." I've discovered juniors clothing! The kids' section doesn't fit me anymore, but I'm not quite tall enough for the teens'. My bootcut jeans drag on the ground a lot. Everyone at school is wearing Hollister, American Eagle, and Aeropostale — therefore, I am also wearing Hollister, American Eagle, and Aeropostale. I get my first magazine around this time (Girl's Life, with Miley Cyrus on the cover) and start using their editorials as fashion inspiration. It's a little more out there for me, but I like it. I start shopping in the BP section at Nordstrom for more basic pieces. My jeans still don't fit (shocker), mostly because Mom thinks my true size looks too tight and insists on buying the next size up. I grow out my bangs and get contacts, but the braces stick around for the next two years.
I'm fourteen and, over the last year, have discovered skate style with a bit of punk/emo/scene thrown in. ("Labels are for soup cans," as many a Hot Topic sticker proclaimed.) I'm bullied a lot in middle school, and I end up losing most of my friend circle as a result. In retaliation, I decide I want to look as different from my former friends as possible. What better way to deviate from the label-mania than to go punk?
I start wearing a lot of Zumiez, Volcom, and loud graphic tees that I find scattered throughout the mall. There's a lot of striped patterns, Vans, and an abundance of black. I convince my mom to buy me a pair of high-top, black-and-white checkered Vans (it pains me, but see below) and they become my signature piece for the next few years. My eyeliner resembles a raccoon. I wear a lot of t-shirts for old bands I don't listen to: Pink Floyd, The Ramones, et cetera. My iPod Nano — the first generation model! — is full of AFI, Paramore, Green Day, and Breaking Benjamin. Very hardcore.
I'm sixteen and have grown out of the punk phase (mostly). I've also chopped all of my hair off and am rocking a pixie cut. I take a liking to dressing in boyish, androgynous looks, but not in a well-put-together way. Outfits during this era consist mostly of graphic tees and hoodies. And Vans. And a ton of bright colors; I remember owning a hoodie that was highlighter-yellow.
I also start poking around the mens' and boys' section of stores, and develop a penchant for flannel. Baggy sweaters are also great, because they hide my curves, and I hate my body type. In short, I'm rebelling — again. It's 2010, and this is the tomboy phase.
I'm nineteen, and have begun my first year of college. Wow, adulthood! I still don't like my curves all that much, but have started dressing a little more feminine. I watch most of Zoella's YouTube videos, which inspires me to embrace "girlier" style, grow my hair out, and grow my eyebrows in. (I've been over-tweezing them for years, by this point.) Collared blouses and pastels work their way into my dorm room's closet. I have recently acquired bangs (again) but decide to grow them out (again). And I'm a cheerleader, too.
But on the whole, my style maintains a stereotypical Pacific Northwest vibe. I start thrifting more often, and, as I did when I was sixteen, continue dressing in oversized men's sweaters when I don't know what else to wear. I buy Birkenstocks the following summer, along with a Columbia windbreaker. I own desert boots. Over the next two years, my hair gets very long; the longest it's ever been, in fact. I regularly keep it tied up in a messy bun. This is also the year I finally begin to actually use Instagram.
I've started my blog (the original name is Maddiomuse) after taking a web design course at school, which revives love of fashion. I begin to follow more bloggers on Instagram, am regularly using Pinterest, and check Tumblr religiously. It's a slippery slope of social media, and, of course, it influences my style. I've become acquainted with high-waisted jeans, and will never go back. I start to gravitate towards more classic, tailored pieces. I'm a little more comfortable with my body shape, but it's still a work in progress.
I chop off six inches of hair and begin rocking the long-bob — which Pinterest refers to as a "lob" — with no bangs. I'm practically a new woman! My sartorial tastes lead me to Madewell and Topshop, where my clothes take on a trendier look. This is also when I adopt a neutral-colored clothing palette, thanks to the Death by Elocution Tumblr page. Twenty-year-old me thinks it's the coolest thing ever.
That summer, I get one of my best friends to help me shoot a fall lookbook. It's the first "fashion post" I ever do. It won't be the last.
I never really outgrew my love of menswear, but now I pair it with something feminine. In 2018, I've been making an effort to shop sustainably, ethically, and support independent designers when I can. I still frequent the thrift shops; I favor timeless pieces, I can usually find something I like. I love neutrals, the color red, and have significantly minimized the amount of clothes in my wardrobe; it's full of pieces I can wear from season to season. I've been saving up for the few designer pieces I've wanted for years. Obviously, I've bleached my hair blonde, which I'm loving. I now love and embrace my hourglass shape, even though pants still don't fit properly in the waist... I'm on the hunt for a reputable tailor in my area.
Most importantly, I now wear what I like. I don't feel the need to pigeonhole myself into a style or define myself by a label, as I did in years prior. I understand that my style will always be changing; which, to me, is the most exciting thing about fashion.