There are pretty things in your closet. Pretty things you absolutely love but leave hanging. What are they doing in there? They are playing roles — in all of your fantasy versions of yourself. You don’t often reach for them because they don’t fit your jeans, T-shirt and sneaks identity, your maxi-dress-to-the-max sensibility, your stiletto style or geek chic-ery.
Some are better at letting their alter egos out of the closet than others. Take Latrenia Bryant (pictured on this page), for instance. The girl even makes an identity crisis look good. Disclaimer: While she has a reputation for boldly exercising many different styles of dress, Latrenia would not likely have mixed them all together like this had she not been asked to do so to demonstrate a point.
We fancy ourselves free to express multiple facets of our personalities through fashion — until we put certain things on and feel like strangers in our own skin. No one wants to be pigeonholed into dressing only one way (nor should they be), but often there’s one “look” that makes us feel most like ourselves.
We wear labels like “bohemian,” “vintage,” “edgy” and “glam” like badges of honor, but our closets reflect split personalities. There’s the retro girl, the Goth girl, the all-American. To look around it would appear there’s a party with all of your most stylish friends (the clothes) in attendance, but the ones that push your fashion boundaries the furthest play the wallflowers. Not because you don’t love them, but because you don’t feel comfortable or confident in them. They don’t get out much — even though you thought enough of these pieces to buy them in the first place.
For many, fashion is equal parts function and form. It’s natural to surround yourself with beautiful things that are soft to the touch, bring you joy, and color your world. But rather than fill your wardrobe with pipe dreams, maybe it’s time to re-evaluate. Find the zones that feel most true to you and expand on them.
For example: If you rock a lot of black but you want to pump up the volume, add a colorful scarf or necklace or shoe. Or if you’re hell-bent on adding a floral print to your mostly solid repertoire, try it under a blazer by day and see what the night (and your mood) reveals.
Before giving up on your ulterior motives, though, be deliberate about pulling things from the closet that don’t often see the light of day. Let your conscience be your guide. See what other styles you identify with enough to wear out, and for the rest … host a swap party!
5 Tips for a Fashion Swap
1. Call all the girls! Invite different shapes, sizes and styles for a successful swap.
2. Ask each guest to bring a specified number of pieces of gently loved fashion (subject to space availability).
3. Contribute things you love but don’t love to wear.
4. Pick a featured accessory to swap. Make it a shoe fetish!
5. Set a jewelry box aside and ask each guest to bring one piece to trade and another to donate to Dress for Success. This way, everyone goes home with something new to them and a good conscience for having helped someone else.
When all is swapped and done, if an identity crisis persists, it may be time to get a stylist.