Why I'm Shy About Everything Except For Fashion

I'm a classic introvert. The "can't stand large groups of people for more than two hours," "remains silent for hours at a time" kind of introvert who would much rather be surrounded by a pile of books than be standing less than fifty feet away from a nightclub. But the one thing I've never been shy about? My wardrobe.

Every since I was a small child, I've let my clothes do the talking. I was so quiet at age five that my kindergarden teacher told my mother she was concerned I was anti-social. I prefer the term discerning, but whatever. Semantics about my willingness to speak to peers aside, I always loved fashion. By first grade I was rocking my first crop top, a floral tie-up blouse with long sleeves — I own something shockingly similar to it as an adult — and platform cork-heeled sandals. I got all dressed up for school and spent recess indoors, working on my latest short story or reading.

Being known as both the Quiet Writer and the Fashion Girl seems contradictory at first glance. Why would I be comfortable wearing the loudest outfit in the room but not always so comfortable speaking up? But the dichotomy makes sense to me.

At the root of things, it comes down to confidence. Fashion gives me a sense of assurance, allows me to walk tall (5'0 tall, but still) and gives me a sense of control. I haven't always been proud of my body, but I have always been proud of the items hanging in my closet. Combining the two helps me to express and accept myself.

Me, trendsetting in a studded denim jacket and tie-dyed dress.

But it runs a bit deeper than that. Sometimes, for my job here at Bustle, I write articles featuring photos of myself. Usually, these pieces center around fashion and involve me modeling various outfits that I've styled around a theme. Allowing our ever-growing readership to see (and possibly judge) my appearance and my fashion choices is hard. As I've outlined here, I'm no exhibitionist. I don't get much thrill out of knowing that lots of people will be looking at my pictures and forming opinions about how I dress.

But I keep writing these posts because they challenge me to be bold, to assert my point of view. They also force me to be okay with the fact that not everyone will love my outfit decisions or agree with my ideas.

Pink ruffled shorts because why the hell not?

I don't like "causing a scene." That's not why I'm introverted, but it is why I'm quiet much of the time. As a writer, I have the luxury of sharing my thoughts with tons of people from behind the safety of a computer screen. Sometimes I'm amazed at the concept that strangers might read my words and form opinions of their own about whatever I've written.

Posts that center around my personal style make it harder for me to avoid that realization. The comments on those pieces affect me far more than what people have to say about, say, a woman who got plastic surgery to look like Kim Kardashian. Sometimes they hurt, sometimes they make me smile. It's the same in my day-to-day life. I wear clothing that is assertive, even if my personality isn't. And my style is reflective of what's going on underneath my silence. If you don't like it, I can deal. As Katherine Bernard once wrote for Vogue,

So, tell the skeptics: Your closet isn’t frivolous, it contains a myriad of channels to heightened performance, a selection of gateways to the best versions of yourself. As Jonathan Lethem said in his novel You Don’t Love Me Yet: “You can’t be deep without a surface.”

Images: Erin Mayer(3)