Fashion is, undoubtedly, one of the key parts of my life and personality. I see it as armour against a world, a canvas that you can paint endlessly upon, and a window to who and what you represent. I understand that it’s not like that for everyone, but there is no denying that I’m not alone in this: fashion is one of the biggest and most vibrant creative industries in the world.
Last year, I wrote an article about my experiences of wearing women’s clothing. In my personal life, my style is something that people always talk about when I come up in conversation – as I mentioned, it’s a significant facet of my character. It’s eclectic, it’s dramatic, and it’s daring. And the two questions I get asked the most when it comes to my fashion choices is, ‘Where/how do you get your clothes?’ and ‘How do you get the confidence to wear that?’
Well, let’s get to it!
1 – You have to have a vision in mind
I wasn’t always the perfect dresser. I still don’t claim to be now, but what I have going for me is that I always have some sort of idea of what I want to do, no matter what the occasion is. I have outfits for dates, outfits for casual outings, outfits for clubbing, and so on. And that might sound like I have too much time on my hands – I do – or obsessively organised, but it’s not. It’s just planning. I like to be put together, and I like to look like I’ve thought about what I’m going to be wearing.
2 – Your confidence is everything – you wear the clothes, they don’t wear you
This is where people tend to trip, and believe me, I know how easy that is – I wear four inch heels.
No matter what you’re wearing, you have to love it, and you have to have faith in it. But most importantly, you’ve got to look yourself in the mirror when you have it on, hold your head up, and be able to strut in it like you’re doing the runway on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The whole ‘love yourself’ cliché gets brought up a lot, and it may be eye-rolling, but when it comes to fashion you’d better believe that it’s true. Even in my worst moments of turmoil and utter defeat, fashion was still a solace for me. That’s what I meant when I talked about it being armour – sometimes, your front is what gets you through your worst times. And for me, a pair of colourful skinny jeans with odd trainers was the best ammunition I had.
3 – Labels mean precisely fuck all
It doesn’t matter that you’re wearing Alexander McQueen or Dolce & Gabanna if you don’t actually like it. Clothing isn’t about the label, it’s about how it makes you feel. Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK to like designer clothing, and it’s OK to favour a particular brand – Topshop and Religion are my go-to whenever I need a friend who’ll understand – but don’t live and die by it, and never, ever get a piece of clothing you don’t even like that much just because you love the label. I’ve done it, we’ve all done it, and it’s stayed in our wardrobe gathering dust for eternity. I understand. You can stop going to therapy about it now, it’s all come out and I’m proud of you for admitting it.
4 – Take the time to really dig – think of it as treasure hunting!
It’s probably been established that I have waaaaay too much time of my hands, which I why I’m able to do this, but bargain hunting and really taking the time to look through your options is the best way to find the best clothes at the most affordable prices. eBay really is the best place to be when it comes to online shopping, especially if you don’t mind second hand items.
Here are my top brands for finding awesome clothing.
And just because a lot of brands haven’t caught up with the 21st century and only go up to a size 16 or 18, here are a few plus size places that aren’t Simply Be or Jacamo, because let’s face it, they’re fucking awful aren’t they?
– If you’re not sure about your size, get your measurements taken properly. It’s the best way to know about what you’re going to fit into.
– When online shopping, always try to see a picture of the clothing item physically on, whether it be on a model or a mannequin. Some clothing does nothing on a hanger, but on it looks incredible, whereas some look amazing by itself but looks completely different when on. It’s all about perception.
– Sizing always differs slightly with every brand. If you’re deciding between two sizes, always go for the bigger size. There’s nothing worse than an item being just a little bit too snug, whereas bigger clothing is always more comfortable, more flattering, and is always on trend.
– Always aspire to try something a little different, a little out of your comfort zone. That’s what makes fashion so exciting.
– Unless it’s an absolute steal of a bargain that you’d be an idiot to miss out on – and I’m talking a fiver here in case anyone uses this as an excuse to buy more clothes they don’t need – avoid impulse buying. Think to yourself, what am I going to wear this for? Is it worth what I’m paying for it? Will I still want to wear it in six months? Is it trans-seasonal? You’ll find that you spend a lot less once you start doing this, and you realise how overpowering your initial excitement of buying something actually is.
– If you do dress a little differently and get worried/anxious/irritated by the constant staring, fuck them. Seriously. Here’s the way I see it: we’re on this Earth for a finite amount of time. We have one shot at it. All around us, terrible things are happening, and if people would rather focus on the fact that I’m wearing heels than these awful things, then they’re not worth the effort of even an acknowledgement. If a meteor were to wipe me out at any moment, I know I’d die looking and feeling fantastic. And that’s enough for me.
None of this is gospel. The fact is, we’re all individuals, and each one of us has different ways in which we like to express ourselves. Want to dress like a 90’s supermodel? Work it. Want to dress like David Bowie? Can’t blame you. Want to defiantly wear clothes that don’t quite fit but you pretend they do anyway? I did it for years, I’m not one to judge. Want to dress like me? Well, hell, who wouldn’t?
Be the fabulous person you want to be. It’s easier than you probably think it is.