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The Fashionphobes Guide to Better Dressing. Part One: Why Bother?

June 14, 2016

I’m on a mission to dress better. The first aspect of this mission is to dress better in an ethical sense: I prefer to support businesses that don’t use sweat-shops. But there is another aspect, I want to dress myself better in the more usual sense: I would like to dress well, look “put together”, maybe even look stylish.

If you know me this second part of my mission may surprise you. I’ve generally been someone that many people assume doesn’t care about clothes. It isn’t actually true. I may often look thrown together, but I generally wish it wasn’t so. I haven’t always admitted this, though. When people imply that you obviously don’t care about these things it is easier to just nod along rather than admit that you really tried to look good today but obviously failed.
For too many years I had almost convinced myself that I didn’t care. External appearances shouldn’t really matter, I thought, so I put little attention into how I dressed. But appearances do matter. They affect how people see you, and how you see yourself. They reveal something of your respect for yourself and for others. They allow for self expression. And very importantly for me, they can affect your self confidence.

Too many times I’ve left home feeling terrible. As a shy, socially anxious, introvert there are many situations I find challenging. Leaving the house knowing that I looked shocking was just the rancid icing on the cake. The problem was I had neither the appropriate clothes for special occasions nor the skills to choose them in the time I would allow myself for shopping.

It usually played out something like this. A few days before an event I would raid my wardrobe in hope of assembling a suitable outfit. I would play with different combinations but nothing would quite work. My clothes were almost all casual or workwear, and they weren’t the versatile sort of pieces that could be dressed up for a night out, a party or a wedding. Plus I had a handful of eclectic special pieces that I would have loved to wear to a special occasion, but because of my love for “character pieces” these tended to be highly patterned, unusual items that worked with little else in my closet. So, with perhaps a day or two to go, I would head out on an emergency shopping expedition. I swear there is no better way to develop a loathing for shopping than too many highly unsuccessful emergency shopping expeditions. I would return home dejected with a barely passable new outfit that had cost me more than I felt it was worth. Getting ready to go out I would have a desperate last attempt to rectify the situation – with little success – and then I would leave the house upset, stressed and looking and feeling like a wreck.

You can probably see how I came to hate fashion. But also how it began to sink in that clothes really did have an impact on my life. And I also started to realise that there was much about the art of dressing for me to love – colour, shape, pattern, texture, self expression – I’ve always loved these things! So why had I rejected fashion?

Fashion. Dress this way. Look this way. Look the same. You don’t look right. You are the wrong size or shape or height or type. Cool kids bullying the different kids. Constant change for the sake of change. Spend. Consume. Feel pressure. Feel bad. Spend more. This is what fashion means to me.

So I still reject fashion, but I’m working on the art of dressing better. I reject the pressure, the pigeon-holing and constant churn of fashion, but embrace the quest to dress with style and self respect in a way that reflects my personality and values.

It’s a long term project, but after three years I think I’m making headway. Plus I think I might have some insights to share for any other stylistic late-bloomers out there looking for help or just to feel less alone.

So that is why I bother with style, and why I plan to blog about it. I’ll post again soon with the first practical instalment of The Fashionphobe’s Guide to Better Dressing.

Why Bother?


2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jane Cavendish permalink
    June 19, 2016 12:22 am

    Hi Julia,
    Just read your piece in this blog about your bird mite infestation – I am currently besieged by these horrors and need help fast! Can you please tell me the name of the pest control company in Melbourne that finally fixed this horrendous problem for you? I have had one company spray everywhere, but they clearly were totally inept as the mites were back with a vengeance within 2 days. Really need this info from you – would be most grateful!

    from Jane

    • Julia Marshall permalink*
      June 19, 2016 6:58 am

      Hi Jane, Unfortunately I don’t have their name. It was organised by our rental agent, and was about 4 years ago. Sorry I can’t help more.
      Also, it is very important that any bird’s nest are completely removed (just spraying is not enough) so that could be something to try.
      Hope it is resolved for you soon. Think they thrive more in warmth so hopefully the winter weather will ease the problem if nothing else.

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