I was 18 years old. I locked myself in my room, my roommate gone for the weekend to visit her boyfriend in a neighboring town. It was a Saturday night and I opened my computer to put on some background music. I walked up to my closet and with my tender fingertips, I started feeling different fabrics and pulling out certain garments to assess their silhouette.
I would pick the most lavish of dresses – the ones that screamed, “I am here! I am ready to dance and eat and drink champagne! I am ready to walk up a grand staircase to enter a ballroom with gold motifs and decadent chandeliers hanging!”
I would put the dress on and add some heels and place my hair up in a low chignon bun.
And then, I would imagine.
I was a new girl in town, but coming from a line of royalty I was welcomed into the yearly gala and with subtle interest from the community, they all wanted to know who I was; why I broke the rules ever so slightly with a black dress that was reminiscent of the fashion streets of Paris versus the elite of statewide government.
I was confident, alluring, and unstoppable.
I moved my body around the room with an air that I never possessed outside of this dress.
For just a few moments, this dress was my time and dream machine.
For just a few moments, I was the heroine of the story. I was the lead actress.
And then, I would change.
Leading into a new story – I was attending a grunge rock n roll concert in the heart of downtown but still maintained an air of luxury that made the crowd do a light double take. I was a successful novelist, of course, and tonight I was tasting the punch of a run down brick venue with chain smokers claiming the air outside.
This was my escape. My remedy. My momentary relief of pain. Trying on clothes transported me and gave me worlds I could never and would never live in. It allowed me to be anyone I wanted to be – anyone other than myself while simultaneously being versions of myself I knew were possible to be.
When I was 18, I needed that escape in such a painful way.
Today, I use that hint of imagination and story telling to create outfits and looks of my own. This time, I am always me. I am not escaping but rather enhancing.
I remember being 19 and waking up each morning to the following routine: having my coffee, eating breakfast, and scouring the internet for new images of the Olsen twins’ outfits. This might sound crazy or stalkerish or even a waste of time, but when I saw the Olsen twins in a new outfit, it stroked my imagination violently. Their outfits were so transportive, so different than ones I had seen before that they peaked my interest in a way that showed me how much more I could be if I wanted to be. I could stretch the limitations of my closet and create looks and aesthetic cohesion that I had not yet dreamed of pairing together.
This infinite possibility made me feel as if there were infinite possibilities for who I could be in this life time.
Fashion gave me options: Who do you want to be?
Fashion gave me a way out: You can be something else if you would like.
Fashion gave me my identity: This is who you are.
Fashion gave me my imagination: Stretch the limit, you can create new things.
Fashion gave me my dreams: In five years, you will be able to be this.
When I watched The September Issue, the documentary on the making of Vogue’s September Issue, I fell in love with Grace Coddington, as did the rest of the world.
Her approach to style, clothing, and designers was so romantic, so whimsical, so dream-like. It resonated with me instantly. She held the power of fashion so brilliantly in her mind and then in her hands. She held the power to evoke emotions through the picking and choosing of a silhouette which then runs and creates a dream scenario.
Today, I use fashion to empower and instill confidence. Some days when you are just not with it, try on your most sophisticated, sexy, or stylish outfit in your closet. Put heels on. Look in the mirror. Walk around. Stand up straight.
Feel the transformative power rush over you. Feel yourself decked out with armor – armor that shields you from whatever negative thought or scenario is clouding your mind. Feel it not only save you but instill a spark of creativity that you can carry your day with.
This is my power of clothing.