I'm not one for being predictable, but when it comes to fashion and the "eccentrically British" stereotype, I must guiltily hold my hands up high. I particularly adore playing dress up with fashion. My love for extravagant dressing began in childhood, when I would be hoisted into sequined leotards and have feathery tiaras gripped atop my pristine bun during my dance recitals. Unfortunately, I quit dancing in my teens to focus on my studies, but I soon found that I couldn't quit costume-style clothing.
Coupled with my love of nautical garb (I blame Sailor Moon), my obsession with playing dress up in everyday life was taken to new levels. As a teen, I would wear a stripy jumper, tight jeans, white plimsolls, and a literal sailor hat just to go shopping during the weekend. I used to get heckled, but I didn't give a damn because I was different. (This was also the era of the emo, which undoubtedly helped.) After this, I went back to my roots and began wearing tutus over jeans, tulle skirts, and a bridesmaid crown. I was channeling the beautiful ballerinas and the theatre I had left behind.
Playing dress up with fashion is incredibly fun — even if you just try it once — and I'm not the only one doing it. Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are always dressing in fantastical costumes. Even Sharon Stone wore fairy wings, and she's just one of many celebs to undergo a magical makeover for a special event.
There are many reasons to experiment with playing dress up, but here are my personal favorites.
1. To Build Up Your Confidence
If you can walk down the street wearing a ballerina inspired outfit or a super tight, bondage-esque ensemble that is reminiscent of Catwoman , then you can seriously do anything. Feeling comfortable in your own skin and not worrying about looking a little kooky or being concerned about what other people think are, IMO, key life skills. Have an important meeting coming up or a public speaking event? Get used to the attention by flaunting fantastical fashion before the big day.
2. To Assume A Different Persona
Is everyday life getting a little monotonous? Use fashion to make it more interesting. Dress yourself up and think about the character who might wear those clothes and/or attributes you've always wanted to portray but never felt brave enough to try. I use this trick when performing in my vintage girl band. As soon as my false lashes are on and I'm wearing my sparkly dress, I become Marilyn Monroe. If you have something nerve-wracking on the horizon, put on a biker jacket and buckled boots and make like you're a tough cookie, even if you're not. The psychology of putting on the garments should work a treat. To go all out, attend a masked ball and have yourself a bit of mischief because darling, it was Lady Velvet who kissed that dashing rogue over by the canapés, not you.
3. To Experiment With Different Styles
If your style is feeling a little stale and you need a wardrobe revamp, take a while to experiment with new styles that you'll love now and next season instead of rushing out to buy what's "in." A quick way to do this is to go all out by wearing costume style clothing and then picking out elements you like. For instance, you may find yourself falling in love with gingham after channelling Dorothy or you might start an extravagant shoe collection after dressing like Marie Antoinette for the day.
4. To Forget Your Adult Woes
Being an adult is hard guys. There are bills, responsibilities, and really mean people. Emily Zak told Vogue:
"When under pressure, my instinct is to dress myself out of a crisis. A bad break-up was an excuse to pull out my favorite dress. A row is a good time to dress in my best and brightest. Maybe it is the time taken paying attention to yourself, or just dressing for battle, but there is something reassuring about resisting doom and gloom with a flash of colour, plenty of structure, or as much joie de vivre as you can muster under the circumstances..."
So just forget about all that garbage and channel your hero, super or IRL, via the medium of fashion.
5. To Let Nostalgia Comfort You
IMO, there's something so comforting about dressing up like a unicorn. I'm not gonna' lie, I have a unicorn hood complete with a rainbow mane and fluffy mittens — and when I wear that hood I feel warm and safe. If you're going through a rough patch or life's got you down, then jump back on the nostalgia train and get to channelling your favorite childhood character. It doesn't have to be an entire outfit: You could flaunt subtle mermaid makeup or My Little Pony nails to get your much needed dose of nostalgia.
6. To Ward People Off
If you are having a really bad week and you feel like you're going to bite the head off the next person you see, adopt an outfit with a Wednesday Addams vibe — an outfit that makes you look as mad as a hatter, or something that screams, "Do not talk to me." Occasionally there may be a very vocal (and rude) person shouting at you in the street, but then you have a great reason to flip them the finger and unleash a little of that frustration. Your loved ones, on the other hand, should know that now's not the time to discuss late rent or your recent breakup.
7. To Feel Empowered
Show the world who you admire by dressing like your favorite character or demonstrate that you don't take yourself too seriously by wearing an ethereal ensemble. Along with showcasing your interests, you'll be able to highlight your hot bod and feel proud of who you are and what makes you unique.
So unleash your inner child and play with dressing up, because life's too short to take fashion seriously.
Images: Moonstone Photographic (2); Phoebe Waller