Written By Angelique Fullwood
I’m going to let you all in on a little secret- even though I am a fashion blogger, there was a time when I didn’t understand the concept of fashion and didn’t really appreciate it because I didn’t think there was anything to appreciate. Way before I wrote my first fashion column, I was just a chubby girl with my nose in a book wearing too tight jeans and t- shirts with pink monkeys on them. I didn’t exactly grow up in a place where Anna Wintour is a household name. It was a long time before I thought of fashion as something more than a frivolous subject.
One summer in 2006 my mother, sister, and I went in for our hair appointment at the salon. While I was sitting under the dryer waiting for time to pass I must’ve looked very impatient because the stylist who was about to curl my mom’s hair walked over and handed me a magazine. It was the September Issue of Vogue with Sienna Miller on the cover. I wish I could tell you it was a magical moment when I poured through the pages and was automatically filled with all kinds of crazy inspiration, but that wasn’t the case. The truth is that I looked through the pages and I just started swelling with envy. I wasn’t skinny like girls in the editorials, I didn’t have their money to buy the expensive brands, and I didn’t know that some of these brands existed. I couldn’t even pronounce some of them, in my head I read Manolo Blahnik as ‘Manila Blank.’ And worst of all trying to spot a woman of color was like a game of Where’s Waldo. It was an intimidating experience because it made me felt inadequate. I thought of fashion as this elitist, exclusive, and shallow thing that didn’t make me feel good about being me.
A year later I was just about to enter high school and it was time to shop for school clothes. My older cousin Brandy, who was an art major in college, offered to take me to the mall and help pick out some clothes. While shopping she would often have this cringe on her face whenever I picked up something off the rack to try on.
“That’s cute, but that will not look good on you.”
“Try something more simple.”
“Maybe try a different color?”
“Are you sure you like that?”
“I love you so I can’t let you buy this.”
“Are you serious?”
To say I was frustrated would be an understatement. I didn’t understand her critiques. I picked out something I liked and got it in my size, why shouldn’t I wear it? She saw that I was struggling so she had me stand back for a moment as she selected different things for me to try on. She would instruct me to “try these with that,” “put this underneath that one,” and “Add a necklace to this.” Each time I came out to walk in front of the big full length mirrors and I saw how things fit and flattered my body. It suffices to say that on the first day of school I looked good and I felt even better. That was when everything finally clicked. The best dressed people aren’t necessarily the ones that are wearing the latest trends or the most expensive labels. The best dressed people are those that know how to dress for their body. They know what silhouette works for them and they know what proportions are right for them. It’s about knowing your body; knowing how it moves, knowing what assets to play up and accepting your flaws for what they are (because, NEWSFLASH- we all have them!) When you understand fashion you know that it should never make you feel bad about yourself or want what someone else has. It’s all about owning you; owning your size, your shape, your color and your lifestyle.
Many people have these misconceptions of fashion, just like I did, that it’s all pretentious and vain. While the industry may have some flaws in certain areas, fashion shouldn’t warrant negative connotations. Fashion is bigger than its industry. That day when I went school shopping with my cousin, she helped me to figure out that to appreciate the beauty in fashion is to appreciate the beauty in yourself. After understanding this I was able to be more creative with my personal style and I realized how fashion truly is a living art form. Every morning we are picking out different textures, playing with colors, adding accents and layers on our bodies just as an artist does on a canvas. We are all works of art. When you’re aware of this, you’ll never look bad a day in your life.