how do i build an aesthetic
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Finding an aesthetic has never been easy, for me at least. Growing up there were pre-determined groups you could choose your style from, the staples of girly girl or tomboy, and then as I got older emo, prep, and basic joined the list. But I’ve always had trouble picking an aesthetic, or a set style I’d like to follow, just because my style interests have always been so varied (bordering on eclectic). 

In elementary school, I rejected the mere notion of anything even remotely “girly”. I was a tomboy through and through, and you couldn’t have paid me to wear pink, or even go near a skirt or a dress. I kept that up through middle school, and keep in mind, this was an era before social media. The only outfits I saw were in movies, magazines, on TV or what the other kids wore at school. In high school I toyed with the idea of branching out a bit, on the days where I wasn’t wearing boot cut jeans and a graphic tee (the cheesy kind they used to have in the girl’s section with the HUGE graphics and corny jokes, not the cool kind) I was either wearing a drama department shirt or a general school shirt; but- on rare occasions ( I mean quite literally twice my entire freshman year of high school) I chose to wear a dress, or a skirt. 

I can still remember clearly, I wore my “country” dress because I wanted to look like Taylor Swift, who was at the time the only young celebrity who had curly hair (like me). The only time I wore a skirt, it was a denim skirt,  and a shirt with this bright yet faded design on it, and some sandals. On both occasions I was so afraid someone was going to look up my dress/skirt on my way up the stairs to class. Like, truly actually very afraid to the point where I wore shorts under both. 

Style Evolutions

Even in college I felt compelled to adhere to one specific style/aesthetic. When I joined my sorority I thought that meant I had to shuck all of my non-preppy clothes, and I had to only wear what the pictures on Pinterest showed me “sorority” girls dressed like. 

But, that wasn’t me, not even remotely. And I found out no one in my sorority cared if I didn’t dress preppy, and that not everyone there even liked dressing preppy either. So then I had a little bit of an identity crisis, not knowing how I wanted to dress or even present myself in general. I kept falling into Pinterest rabbit holes, searching for “classy outfits”, “classic outfits”, “basic outfits” “trendy outfits”. 

At this point, I had practically reverted to how I dressed in high school, albeit with a few changes. I wore exclusively skinny jeans now (instead of bootcut), graphic tees (more tasteful/cool ones this time), and added a cardigan (because I was and still am constantly cold, no matter where I am.) The exceptions to this were the days I chose to wear leggings (I still call them yoga pants, but apparently only long flared “leggings” count as yoga pants, and the cropped “leggings” I wore/still wear are considered “leggings”. It’s a whole thing.) 

When I graduated college, I was dealing with the crisis of “oh god what do I do with my life now?” as well as “how the hell am I supposed to dress for the real world now that I’m no longer a college student?” At my first real post-grad job I wore a men’s graphic tee, jeans, and ankle boots with a cardigan (my first attempt at a “geek chich” aesthetic”) almost every single day for nearly 3 years. It was towards the end of that time where I told myself I desperately needed to start branching out, and that there were other ways to display my interests rather than a graphic tee with the name of it across my chest. 

Finding Your Style

So, once again I turned to Pinterest, but this time just looking for outfits in general. This is the occasion upon which I discovered the term “aesthetic”, and some of the common ones along with it. Now that I’ve done some looking (and some shopping) I can say that I like pieces of cottagecore, bits of e-girl, dashes of what I call “camp counselor chic”, and I’ve also found that now that I’m older, I genuinely like dresses and skirts. They’re so much easier to wear in Florida because they allow your bottom half to breathe on those hot humid days, where most pants would trap your legs in a sweaty prison.

These discoveries have led me to experiment with pieces and aesthetics I wouldn’t have even considered as recently as a year ago. But COVID  taught me that life is short, wear whatever the hell you’d like! Pink tulle skirt for grocery shopping? Absolutely! Full power suit for grabbing coffee? Hell yeah! Vintage 60s dress for lounging from home? Right on! 

Blending In and Standing Out

I know I know, you may be thinking, “but Hannah, what if people stare? What if people give me funny looks?” and to that I say, screw ‘em! If they don’t like how you’re dressed when you’re off the clock, that’s their problem, not yours! Dressing however the hell you want to brings a sense of power and confidence that you don’t quite believe until you experience it for yourself. 

So, with all that in mind, go forth! And wear what makes you feel good! Seize the power that clothes can afford you, and use it to conquer your fears and bury your inhibitions.

By Hannah

Lover of all things geeky.

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