Every morning growing up, I would hear the sounds of my dad ironing and pressing his clothes. He had always emphasized to me the significance of presentation, both inside and out. My dad believed that how you looked on the outside is an extension of yourself, and the ability to make choices in your appearance is a privilege. Because of the limited resources I had, I learned not to take this privilege for granted and is one of the reasons why I grew to love fashion.

Like many other kids growing up, clothing was heavily dictated by whatever my parents would dress me in or whatever I saw around me at the time. I moved around LA a lot and with all this moving came exposure to different types of people. You begin to notice the differences in what people wore and how people used this means of expression to represent themselves. Being young and impressionable, this was not very clear to me at the time and therefore much of what I wore was an imitation of what I thought looked good on someone else. Despite lacking a lot of understanding about clothes and fashion, I realized that these experiences shaped how I would develop my own style.

Developing my own sense of style did not come naturally to me. Despite having so many resources and influence, it only made me feel even more out of place. I was constantly trying to change my look, however I still felt like an imitation of someone else. I kept experimenting with whatever was trending — the hipster look with the fake glasses, military boots with lots and lots of cardigans. It was as if I was always copying another person, but never really being comfortable in my own clothes.

It was during this time that there became a growing influence of bloggers or content creators on YouTube and Tumblr. I began to look towards the online community as a resource. I was drawn to these creators because of their relatability and sense of camaraderie. The appeal came from the idea of engaging with like-minded individuals who were passionate about clothing, fashion, and style, wanting to share their own ideas and opinions. Although it may seem like an unconventional learning experience, it proved to be the most impactful. Ironically, none of the YouTubers I watched claimed to be experts in style or fashion. However, it was their thoughts and opinions that I found most valuable. The content creators I followed provided a way for me to gain new perspectives and ideas that were beyond what mass fashion media could offer at the time.

While magazines and advertisements were influencing me to fit into a certain mold — Youtubers encouraged me to think of style as something more versatile. Challenging myself to find vintage and stylish clothing in thrift shops, I enjoyed finding a good bargain and shopping with my friends. Being young and broke, thrifting was a great way to experiment with styles without any real commitment. It made me realize that style is a constant work in progress, change was part of this progress, and I should enjoy developing my personal style.

Taking my dad’s lesson to heart, I continue to use fashion and style as a means of expressing myself. I believe the best part of developing your style is that you have the ability to reinvent. But who I am is maybe someone like you – someone who just enjoys wearing the things that they like; someone who dresses themselves with intention. If this is you, then you are already someone who has or is developing their own style. Style doesn’t have to be an immediate change, it’s a curation of you and your personal experiences. So take your time and enjoy the journey!

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