The Story of My Personal Evolution Through Style
If my life is a movie, then I think I was a pretty damn good costume designer. Of course, I held the other titles as lead actress and script re-writer (journaling in slight unreliable narrator fashion). But fashion was always something fun for me to experiment with, even as a child with her first few Bratz dolls.
Fashion and style tells a story, and if you’ve spent your life changing and discovering yourself through this form of expression, those moments can be marked rather easily. As a way to reflect and reminisce on the past, I’ll be using my own style evolution as a sort of guide.
So, let’s rewind — take it back to 2012–2013…
2012–2013: Bright eyed & bushy tailed
I had moved to a new city before my freshman year of high school, and I was generally excited about everything. A new school meant I could reinvent myself — especially since it was high school.
Back then, I still had subscriptions to magazines like Teen Vogue and Seventeen, so I was getting all of my fashion insights from that material.
At that time, mixing bold colors and patterns and textures was the trend. And as a little fashionista, I was on it. I remember particular outfits that featured pieces like lavender polka dot skinny jeans, a blue and green color block pleated skirt, a black polyester hi-low blouse with skulls all over it, and lots of arm candy (by decree of every fashion blogger).
Yea…it was a lot. But it was so much fun because that was the most experimental time in my life for style. And this was only possible because the trends of the era encouraged us all to be a little more…out there. I look back on that time with a special fondness. The fashion was bold, bright. And so was I.
2014: Tumblr girl origins
After a while, I stopped asking my mom to renew those magazine subscriptions. By this time I had hesitantly ventured into the world of Tumblr. And while, yes, I did see some X-rated material for the first time on that site, I was also introduced to the Tumblr girl fashion aesthetic.
There were a couple different styles I liked, but one in particular stood out to me: the soft girl. She was a fairy-like character who loved succulents and jelly sandals. I found this aesthetic charming and sweet, and I wanted to emulate it.
However, I didn’t have any money to change up my wardrobe completely. I still had gaudy patterns and colors in my closet, but I gradually integrated more pastels and florals when I could.
This was the clearest example of me trying to fit into a mold created by the internet. I was obsessed with it in theory, but failed to carry it out in real life. It became more about embodying the attitude of the aesthetic rather than just the clothes. I did get a cute succulent and cactus out of it though.
2014–2015: Tumblr girl gets sad
For whatever reason, junior year of high school was really hard for me emotionally, and I wasn’t the same girl from a few years prior.
Actually, I think Lana Del Rey dropping Ultraviolence might have had something to do with it.
Anyway, I swung over to the opposite end of the tumblr spectrum where the darker, grungier, minimal aesthetic was thriving. It matched my dreary mood perfectly with a little cool girl touch. I wore less color, and most of my outfits featured pieces that were subdued and uninspiring.
There was even a time when a friend of mine that I hadn’t seen as often anymore said, “You look so different, something about you changed!”
The sudden change in my style directly correlated to the sudden change in my mental and emotional state. That’s how closely linked the two factors are — if one is out of whack, the other will be, too.
2016: New year, who dis?
Senior year marked a complete turnaround for me. I had found my group of friends worth sticking with, and I felt vibrant and fun again.
And I was getting older, on the cusp of 18, and I don’t know what it is about that age that makes kids act the hell up but I was no exception. I felt freer, more fun, and a newfound sense of sexuality was blooming inside of me.
This translated into my style of course, along with the shifting trends of the time. Streetwear was on the rise, as was my involvement on Twitter, which was home to the #ProHoe movement. I wanted to dress like the women online, show off my body as much as I could given the school’s dress code.
I started to wear tighter shirts, tighter pants, big hoop earrings (the bigger the hoops, the bigger the hoe), and vibrant colors. The fashion was still minimalistic but there was a new intention behind it: to show myself off to the world.
2018: Kpop! Yes, Kpop!
The summer before my junior year of college was interesting because I had failed at finding a part-time job. This meant that I had a lot of free time on my hands and somehow this led me to discovering Kpop.
Jumping into this new genre of music was like entering a new world. Not only was I having a good time with my sisters but I was listening to good music — and I was getting inspired to try new styles of fashion.
Fashion is a big part of Kpop. Not only do idols switch up their outfits based on concepts for each album and performance, but their off-duty style was also something I looked forward to.
By the time fall rolled around, I noticed myself taking small but impactful risks in my daily outfits. A thrifted leopard print coat became a staple in my wardrobe — what does that tell you? I was feeling more encouraged to find my own style again! In fact, that quest was more attractive to me than following trends like I had enjoyed doing in the past. It was different but it was more me.
2019–2020: Discovering more sides of myself
The end of 2018 marked a realization I had about my sexuality, so 2019 was the first year that I was consciously moving around the world as someone who wasn’t straight. This was a part of myself that was new, and I felt a part of me unlock. Of course, my style followed.
I continued going with my own tastes instead of closely following trends when it came to buying clothes and putting outfits together. I also found that I liked showing less skin in favor of putting more pieces on to pull a look.
I also got inspired by androgynous styles, and incorporating masculine pieces along with feminine pieces. Picking and choosing elements from all the different aesthetics I enjoyed to create my own unique style made me gain more confidence. I usually don’t like to be the center of attention, but my outfits tend to stand out and do the talking for me. And that’s something I don’t mind!
Fashion can tell a story on a larger, collective scale, but it also tells your story. Like me, you can look back on your evolution through the lens of style. Personal growth can be hard to track sometimes because we’re all just going along for the ride every day. But the way you’ve interacted and experimented with fashion is a cool way to see just how much you’ve changed. So, what does your style say about you? What kind of story does it tell?