An individual is defined as someone who is strikingly unusual or distinctive, however, in recent years this term has been used to describe people who dress differently from the norm. I want to take a closer look at those who say that they have their own “style” & see what really constitutes being an individual in the 21st century.
When I think back to my high school days I remember there were certain people who dressed differently from the majority and that they were seen as weird and to be avoided or made fun of because of what they wore. When you chatted to these individuals as I did when my friends got tired of my constant chatter – I can & do talk for Scotland – they would tell you how their style was theirs alone & that there was no one else like them. One girl in particular, I remember, was very vocal in her ideas about individuality and was forever to be heard bragging that she was the only one who had the nerve to dress differently from what society expected of us. She was all about the multiple rainbow coloured ponytails, the baggy jeans with chains hanging from every available space & the almost non-existent net crop tops.
At the time she definitely was the only one who dared go that far in terms of what she wore to class – the rest of us preferred to stick to our basic uniform and not draw any unnecessary attention to ourselves. I can’t say that I liked her style or wanted to emulate it in any way, shape or form, baggy jeans don’t do me any favours – I’m a skinny’s girl through & through – but I did admire her confidence. I for one would never have had the guts to wear half the things she did in the privacy of my own bedroom never mind outside, especially to school where bullies thrive on picking on those who are different. For that reason she definitely had my respect, although I must admit I did think her stupid from time to time when she seemed to go further than ever before in what appeared to be a ploy to get even more attention.
For me this is the primary factor in all this “individuality” talk; people want to be noticed, they want to stand out from the crowd & they enjoy the attention that their so called “style” brings. In hindsight that girl from my school was no more individual than the rest of us – she was in fact a carbon copy of Gwen Stefani in her No Doubt days. Yes, I suppose you could say she was unique in terms of the environment that she patrolled in those huge platform boots of hers but in terms of her style being hers & hers alone she was nothing more than a wannabe.
Personally I believe the key to individuality is that there is no one else who dresses like you & that if you want to wear leopard print, zebra print & neon yellow polka dots then you do it & sod what anyone else thinks. It’s more about having the confidence to wear such daring outfits that makes a person unique rather than them being the only one to wear them. I would love to be seen as an individual but I’m not as self-assured or brave as some & prefer to stick to my wardrobe staples rather than go all out in a patchwork of different prints, colours & textures.
I envy the unwavering confidence of those who push the boundaries of fashion & think outside of the box in terms of their style, but I must admit I do prefer the familiarity & comfort of the inside of my fashion thinking box. I prefer to wear classic pieces – an LBD, a trench coat, ‘Manhattan’ sunglasses à la Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany’s – I trust these trends & know that they are always looked upon favourably & never go out of fashion. If that makes me a wannabe & not unlike many others who walk the streets then that’s the way it’s going to have to be. I am comfortable in my skin & don’t feel the need to dress in order to draw attention to myself. This may well be because I simply don’t have the confidence to wear outrageous outfits & daring make up but to be honest I wouldn’t have it any other way.
By Victoria Loudon