H&M top, denim, shoes and rings. Mango earrings. Camille’s Closet handbag. Sheikh Zayed Palace Museum, Al Ain.
It was the year 2008, and I was a 16-year-old junior in high school. Basically a lifetime ago.
Things were finally beginning to make sense for me, as the first glimpse into who I was (and wanted to be) was becoming a realizations. Fashion’s governing of my very being was something I was conscious of, though I wouldn’t fully understand until much later.
Up until that time, teenage life was a struggle; and even though life’s waters were muddled tenfold in adulthood, that period was the preamble of a complex story in which I am the lead character.
My style was becoming more personal again. Mom was still my clothing procurer, but only she could shop for me, outside of myself. She understood the essence I sought to feed, because she decided it for me pretty early on. You can say I was a miniature version of her, style wise – and in many more ways as I got older. And she never disappointed. After all, she is my first style icon.
At school, I made new, better suiting friendships. Some of which continue to this day. I became more involved on campus than before: Joined the cheerleading squad (after quitting in middle school), and I had even managed to earn officer ranking in Junior ROTC. Didn’t see that coming did you? Don’t be too impressed, I was a terrible officer. Rules and restrictions never worked well for me. My mother can testify to that. But now, I had a squad for all of my interests. One for fashion, my cheer sisters and ROTC. They overlapped of course. Point is, I was experimenting with different facets of myself and it was working.
From then leading up to senior year, my status as a fashion girl started to gain recognition. Partly due to the refined, yet whimsical aesthetic I had perfected, influenced directly by my mother, by the way. She was always well put together, so classy and feminine. I’ve always had more edge and boyish influences though – thanks to my chic ass dad.
It was also due in part to the fact that I deserved that recognition. Before gasping, just hear me out. You know that overlooked, misunderstood trendsetter that every grade in high school has? That was me.
No one dressed the way I did, because not many people understood me or shared a similar background to mine. A Jamaican immigrant whose connection to style was birthed the time she entered this world. Stylishness is embedded to my family, it’s a part of who we are. So I had a deep appreciation for that is all I’m saying. Not tooting the horn here. Plus, I was constantly reminded of how “old-fashioned,” or mature my style was. Nothing’s changed either.
Anywho. What actually propelled my style’s distinction was an affinity for ruffly tops. I’m talking white sleeveless types with volume flowing up the center and around the neck; ruffle trimmed faux silk blouses with couture-esque poofy, bell sleeves, and floral printed antebellum tops with subtle hints of embellishment. That antebellum shirt was worn in my “Best Dressed” photo for the year book.
Now, almost a decade later, that period is mirroring back to me. I’m currently a junior, almost senior in college. Ruffles and bell sleeves are trending, and I’ve reached another significant age and moment of self-discovery. And just like my 16-year-old self, I’m still very much a mess. Just better at being so.
At 25 I am just as obsessed with the romanticism and feminine flair that this design exudes. I feel more like me than at any other age. This new becoming is one that I am intensely perfecting and maintaining. And extending to all areas of my life. I haven’t yet mastered it, but absolutely will. While clad in an adorable, flouncy little number too. Until next time✌?
*Photos taken on vacation. Read my Travel Journal about it here*