Find your inner fashionista!
By Mar Jennings
Did I get your attention? First and foremost, I’d like to welcome you to my column, a fun approach to fashion that embraces personality and individuality. That said, no one personifies personality and individuality more than a professional drag queen. Truth be told, when I learned I was going to meet the queens of “RuPaul’s Drag Race” Season 10 when they were performing in New Haven, I had no idea how marvelous and on point they would be for my premier article in Connecticut VOICE. Drag queens take their inner personalities and create bigger-than-life characters, always building from who they are. Great personal style and dress, when done correctly, also should follow these same fundamental rules.
As a fashion connoisseur with years in the television industry, I have walked many red carpets – from the Daytime Emmy Awards to New York City Fashion Week – and along the way, I’ve met and interviewed some of the biggest fashion icons, designers and celebrities. Jane Seymour, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren, Badgley Mischka, and Joan Rivers, to name a few. They all had the same thing in common: they all owned their looks and embraced their talents and who they are. That said, let’s delineate the difference between fashion and style. Fashion is just clothing that is currently popular. But style is how we wear it to express ourselves. A properly dressed person can evoke confidence and power. For example, have you ever had to wear something, for someone, that you absolutely hated? Perhaps for a wedding or celebration? How did that make you feel? Did you feel confident? Compare that to when you dress for yourself when you want to feel wonderful. Finding your comfort zone and what works for you begins with loving yourself and allowing yourself to become the best you can be. One does not need to spend excess money or only buy designer labels to be a fashion icon or look great. Some of the best-dressed people are resourceful and creative.
How you dress and what you wear personifies feeling great about yourself, and that means being comfortable and confident. Analyze your body and learn what looks best. Lines, edges and curves should be embraced, as all shapes are fashion worthy. Spend a little time on what you feel best in. It will infiltrate your whole mood and being. A skinny jean might be “in,” but if it doesn’t make you feel comfortable, you’ll never look stylish. Loving our bodies and knowing what makes us different and more interesting than others is the best way to take care of ourselves. Knowing what works is just as important as knowing what to wear. For many of us, the key way to discover our style is knowing the brands that work for both our bodies and personalities.
I admire the Brooks Brothers brand and have always found the classic, gentlemen’s fashions of yesterday to be my signature style. A sports coat, pocket square and dark jeans is a casual uniform for my daily business. I know what works for me and I stay in my fashion comfort zone. I learned many years ago that a purple velvet jacket, leather pants, and cowboy boots do not fit my personality, regardless of how great they may look on someone else. If you love wearing bowties, make them your signature. If combat boots are your footwear choice, build your wardrobe around them. The key is to own your personality and style. Individuality and knowing what works for you, not others, is truly what style is all about. Learning who you are “in fashion” will far outlast any hot, of-the-moment trend that you won’t feel comfortable in, or later hate yourself for wearing. (We’ve all been there, done that!) So why should we care about how we look and what we wear? No matter how wrong it may be, people do judge a book by its cover. Your “cover” should reflect your core self-worth. We should love how we live, and truly living can’t be possible without some understanding of what makes us look great. What does your clothing say about you? Creative, handy, conservative, rocker, fashion-forward? Does it represent your true personality? Even our age can be defined by the clothing we select and what we use to accessorize. Work, casual, and play wear can range in style, but the one thing that should never vacillate is what makes us feel comfortable. One thing is for sure: we are all unique billboards that people read when we walk into a room. Learning how to work core pieces into an everyday wardrobe is something that comes from knowing what clothing to have in your closet. For men, owning a great suit is a staple and for women, it could be a simple black dress or pantsuit. But this is where your personality can upgrade any boring outfit. A fun tie, belt or jewelry can personify you. The key is to allow yourself to reflect on what you love and adore in clothing.
I have this one friend who is totally into one-of-a-kind necklaces and every day, no matter what the occasion, you will find her wearing one of these conversation pieces. Over the decades, she has curated quite a collection. I asked her about her devotion to her necklace collection and she said, “It’s my armor! I can do anything wearing them, and they make me happy. From painting a room to a black-tie event, I have them for all occasions.” I loved her response. Let’s take a moment and talk about trends and why we should avoid them. One great example is overalls! Yes, you read that correctly. Fashion editors and celebrities are bringing back this ’90s staple. Coast to coast, celebrities as varied as Emmy Rossum, John Mellencamp and Selena Gomez have all recently gotten press for rocking overalls. So, does this mean we should all run out and get them for ourselves? Only you know the right answer. If you feel great wearing them, and have an appropriate place to wear them, then own it and rock them.
Dressing to impress begins with impressing yourself, knowing what works for you and identifying your own personal style. It’s all about mixing and matching until you find what’s best for you. So, when you see those glossy magazines, ask yourself this: What would these models be wearing if they were not dressed for the photo shoot? Hair, makeup and clothing can make a person, but personality, individuality and self-worth are far more interesting and fun. One of the best quotes I can leave you with is, of course, from the iconic drag queen RuPaul: “If you can’t love yourself, how the hell you gonna love someone else?” Take the power and control how people see you by loving yourself, knowing what works for you and avoiding trends. Discover your inner fashionista, and fashion will never be a drag.