A fabric-al extension of yourself

In honor of Boston Fashion Week just passing us from September 30 to October 7, what better time is there to talk about fashion?  

Let’s start by posing the most obvious question everyone always asks when delving into the philosophical realms of fashion: what does it mean to me? 

The typical answer is always something along the lines of, “a way to express myself.”

Lila Baltaxe | Senior Graphic Artist

For a long time, I struggled to find a unique and different answer than that five-word phrase, but to put it plainly, that pretty much covers it. The difference, however, is that expression looks different for every person. 

While conventionally in most people’s minds, someone who is expressing themselves is one who is wearing an outfit you would have never even imagined could be put together. 

But,in reality, expression in the form of fashion is simply wearing whatever represents who you are on the inside.

Not to continue throwing around cliches, but expressing yourself through fashion is just another way to “wear your heart on your sleeve,” both in the figurative and fabric sense. 

For me specifically, I went through a long period where I tried my absolute hardest to dress with all the trends. 

Anyone who passed me in middle school who was wearing some sort of name-brand leggings or hoodie would immediately become the fashion icon of the century. Every Christmas list was basically a compilation of every outfit I saw in my friends’ closets. All I wanted was to blend in with the sea of PINK sweatshirts and white Vans. 

While I want to preface that there is absolutely nothing wrong with any of these items, they just weren’t truly an accurate representation of myself. 

I had a difficult time feeling like I belonged when I was younger, so I wanted to do everything in my power to mold myself into someone who could belong, consequently stifling a part of myself who wanted to dress a little differently. 

It wasn’t until my sophomore year of high school that I truly began to delve into what fashion looked like for me and understand what it meant to me. It became more than just what brand of skinny jeans I was wearing — it became about what made me feel the most like my true self. 

While I did very noticeably take influences from trends on TikTok and other social media platforms, I found ways to personalize it and make it my own. Starting with baggy jeans and sweater vests, turning into loafers and funky dresses with shirts layered underneath, I cycled through several different styles before combining many of them to find my very own. 

Picking out my outfit the night before school every day soon grew into a recurring ritual I found solace in. 

When I was mixing and matching different items I already owned and finding different combinations, I felt like a mad scientist in a laboratory unlocking a new formula. I felt as though I was discovering the undiscovered. 

I quickly realized that many of the ideas I had were in fact done before, because it is very difficult to maintain 100% originality in terms of clothing, as we are always taking inspiration from somewhere. Nevertheless, it sparked a sense of creativity that I never really tapped into before. 

Much of that feeling has not changed. While now I don’t exactly have the luxury of spending hours trying to figure out what new outfit I can put together every night — thank you college — I still share that same deep love of fashion that 15-year-old me was just starting to grow into.

I’m in a phase where I’m ready to start experimenting even more with patterns and styles that I have not before, and am so incredibly excited to do so in this city, which has so many vintage shops and thrift stores to explore. Recommendations are always welcome by the way. 

To finally circle back to the initial question, what does fashion mean to me? 

It means a lot of different things, but at the end of the day, it is a means to express who I am internally. It symbolizes a physical extension of myself through the fabric on my body. 

Fashion empowers me to be unapologetically myself and inspires me to create my own sense of belonging.

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