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The Rambled

The Rambler

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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
One girl, so many things to say. So I got myself an outlet.

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Zoe G.
One girl, so many things to say. So I got myself an outlet.
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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Be Different. But Not Too Different. Appearances Don't Matter. Except For Always

Pop quiz: what is the life lesson that you had drilled in your head the most in elementary school? If your school was anything like mine it was "be yourself." We've been told it a thousand times and told that if someone doesn't like you for who they are then you don't want to be friends with them anyway because they suck for not appreciating your uniqueness. But in practical use the life lesson is anything but.

I have mentioned before that I am very into fashion. And I, like everyone else on the planet whether or not they'll admit it, judge people based on their appearance. I know we are supposed to read the book before you decide if we like it. But I find that a person's appearance reveals a lot about them. Whenever one argues against uniforms in school the question of individuality comes up. But it's not just that. If a person's outfit is in the height of trendy then you know they are conscious about looking like all the celebrities. Conversely if a person's outfit is about two decades out of fashion than you know they don't care about being in style or else are completely oblivious to it.

But go to a job interview and look at all the applicants. They will almost all be dressed alike. Put together and neat, combed and styled hair, ironed shirts, but not overdone. Knee-length or longer dresses and skirts for women, suits and ties for men. It's a picture of conformity. And that's not a bad thing. Like I said, we judge based on appearances. And in a job interview you want to appear responsible, trustworthy and smart and business clothes do that. I myself own multiple interview outfits that I have picked out down to the shoes and hairdo- up do for the purple blouse with the black pencil skirt paired with my black BCBG slingbacks and down and straightened with my grey Calvin Klein dress with the blue cardigan. The shoes for that one vary on the interview- trendier, younger places get my bright blue, five inch Mary Janes with the fake reptile detail, older, more respectable (or religious) places get the sweet grey fleece heels with the bow on the toe.   

Yes, when appearances matter they matter a lot, until one has every detail set out. 

So, did we forget this life lesson? Or have we just taken it and made it our own by learning to express than individuality within our social expectations?

This post came about when I was looking at a picture of Helena Bonham Carter at the Bafta Awards. Helena is quirky, isn't she? She wears clothing that she dug out of Great-Grandma Millie's attic! She wears different colored shoes! Isn't she an individual? 

No. I don't think so. I think that Helena's look reeks of trying too hard. She seems to want to be quirky but she can't seem to figure out how to do so without looking like a whack-job. Or, alternatively, taking it to an artful level like Lady Gaga. Another example is Katy Perry, who wants to be as kooky as Gaga, but just ends up looking stupid in a blue wig. That's not daring, that's desperate. 

So, how does a twenty-something girl like me be an individual? Well, I just go with my gut. I buy things I like and I wear things that suit me. I don't care if everyone and their puppy is wearing orange this season, I look like crap in orange and I'm staying away from it! The Fashion Police website linked above defines a fashion victim as "someone who rigidly follows fashion, even if it means dressing in clothes that don't suit her, or just look plain ridiculous." To me this means harem pants and jump suits. Not a look I find flattering on anyone, ever. 

But I have my own style. Often times when shopping with friends they tell me they've found something that is "so Zoe." And nine time out ten they are totally right. My style is classic with the occasional edgy vibe in cold months and romantic whenever it's warm enough for me to wear one of my twenty-something sundresses. I like florals and soft colors but also bold accents and jewel tone sweaters. I love anything with a bow on it. And as previously mentioned, I prefer heels to flats- anywhere up to five and a half inches is good with me.

So go ahead, be yourself. But don't try to be different for the sake of being different. Once you are picking clothes just so you aren't conforming, well you're just conforming to something else, aren't you?  

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