UNIFORM: On Style + Individuality

By Jaylin Paschal

I'm not a style blogger or a fashion journalist by any means. I'm no fashionista, no trendsetter, no tastemaker. I'm not too crazy about clothes, not too enthusiastic about shopping, but I am obsessed with style.

When style is authentic--when it's pure and unscathed by public opinion--it is an outward expression of what can't be stated with words. Colors, textures, layers, and shapes tell symbolically what can't be said otherwise.

Styling tells a story--on the street, in editorials, of theater character. It highlights personality, desire, imagination. It champions the historians, reveres the innovators, and punctuates our run-on sentences, as we issue biographies trying to prove we are someone. As a storyteller, I have an intimate relationship with and profound appreciation for style.

But the idea of style that really appeals to me is the concept of choice--the idea that we all wake up and decide what part of ourselves we're going to display on the surface. How much and what do we have to offer to the world today? We put on a shirt to remember that we hate it and change into another just to change into a final--usually the one we knew we were wearing when we woke up that morning. We look in the mirror, fix our collars, decide on accessories, understand that we may be overdoing it, go out anyways and live our lives in extensions of our lives. When style is authentic--when it's pure and unscathed by public opinion--getting dressed is an act of existentialism.

Style--when authentic and pure and unscathed--is inspiring in a way no other medium of expression can be. To just see someone, and know about who they are or who they aspire to be. We get to see people live their truths while cloaked in their truth. We get to see them wear their souls inside out. And in this way, the stylish is never the insincere. It is through style that individuality holds the most weight. Style adds a layer of humanity to function. Style is what justifies the fashion industry--what levels materialism--what subsidizes, in a way, vanity. Style is what makes clothes more than fabric and buttons. Style is what makes this post a little less ridiculous.

TO MAKE THIS ABOUT ME

Much like my writing, I try to use style to bridge two seemingly opposite worlds. I tend to mix classic pieces with cultural statements. (Right now I'm wearing Stan Smiths and mens trousers with the obnoxious Clinton tee pictured below.) My most frequented look--my uniform, if you will--is a crisp white button up against heavily distressed denim. I appreciate juxtaposition of clothing as much as I appreciate juxtaposition of thought, or theory, or mindset.

Today I got dressed and I looked like me. There are few feelings as satisfying.


Check out my piece for Defiance Magazine on Aceani Michelle, Overlooked: How Style Defined Counterculture Movements or my piece on denim and sociology, Blue Jeans, Hip Hop, and the Black Community

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