I'm pretty sure that at one point in my life, if I heard the term fashionista, I would've cringed. The whole concept seemed frivolous and, quite frankly and more truthfully, unattainable to me; but I've learned since then that being a fashionista doesn't have to mean the things I once thought it would.
I'm going to take you on a little personal journey through parts of my fashion history here. Well, I suppose I should really say my journey to becoming a self-proclaimed "fashionista." The thing about this word — this label — though, is that oftentimes it makes several stereotypes come to mind for some people.
For those who haven't gone on the same exploring-one-part-of-myself journey that I have, "fashionista" might imply the things I personally used to think of: Ideas of living a life similar to that of a character in the The Devil Wears Prada (as much as I love that film) might begin to surface, which to a lot of people just seems stressful and elitist — a life only reserved for a certain kind of human.
The actual definition of a fashionista is two-fold: It can refer to a designer of haute couture, or to a devoted follower of all things sartorial. For my purposes, I'm obviously not talking about the first meaning. And you probably won't ever see my name associated with a high fashion collection (although perhaps I shouldn't limit myself!). The second definition is what I'm after — a devoted follower of fashion.
Those are all myths that I'm happy to say I have busted, so let me explain how you are allowed to do the same, too — because you should never have to feel like you aren't "good enough" to love what you love. I've also included ideas that I think most influence the average person's denial to themselves to pursue fashion as an interest.
1. You have to have a "successful" social media presence.
The only truth in this statement would apply to wanting to make an online name for yourself in order to earn money from a blog or to experience the ability to influence a large group of people. But to be a lover of fashion, you should never have to think, "I don't have a good blog or enough Instagram followers or a YouTube channel."
My personal blog is scattered, with a few fashion posts here and there; and I have no real audience other than the friends who follow links I post on my Facebook (and I never even get many comments). Clearly, my personal online presence and voice have risen since I started writing for the Internet; but before that, I wrote for myself on a platform hardly anyone saw. And you know what? You never know who is actually paying attention. Even if it's just a few people checking out your blog or what not, you make more of a difference than you realize.
2. You have to be thin.
Despite the fact that plus size women are still marginalized in the industry, straight size women do not have a monopoly on a love for clothes! If you're ever feeling like your size inhibits you from going all out in your pursuit and love of all things fashion, stop yourself immediately, check out the many plus size fashionistas there actually are out there, and be reassured that your size has nothing to do with whether or not you're allowed to rock those looks you love. I think my VBO and bust size in the above H&M bodycon prove my point.
3. You have to have a lot of money.
Of course if you're going after designer brands all the time, you're going to need more cashflow, but buying something nice every once in a while is totally doable by managing your finances and saving up for special purchases. Also, there's no shame in hitting sales racks or consignment shops, and there are plenty of super fashionable stores where you don't have to spend a ton of cash for really awesome things. Limiting yourself because of your economic status is a mistake. I am by no means wealthy, but I make fashion work for me with what I have.
4. You have to be young.
What a sad misconception that once you get older, have kids, and move on from the so-called "young, wild, and free" part of your life, you have to drop the the interests you once had. Of course your priorities may change, but that's your prerogative, and you should never feel like you're too late to the game or that you missed out. I know I'm still relatively young at 31, but just because I'm not 21 anymore doesn't mean I suddenly have to move on from my likes.
5. You have to have loved fashion your entire life.
I only started following fashion about six years ago. Before that, I knew some of the basics — which were really just outdated fashion "rules" anyway. I was much more into the music scene in my teens and college years, and basically wore jeans and tees (still not a bad choice). But around 25, I wanted to start experimenting with style and colors and lipstick and found myself drawn to more fashion magazines and blogs. Just because I was late bloomer to the array of sartorial options out there doesn't mean my newfound love of fashion is any less legitimate.
6. You have to know all the stuff.
What a lie it is to proclaim that you're only qualified to be a fashionista if you know everything. Learning about all the things that make you light up is such a huge part of pursuing a passion. So who cares that you don't have every film to do with fashion and clothes memorized, or you don't have a subscription to Vogue, or you couldn't spout off all the details from fashion history to someone? You know what you know, and you find out what you want to know. I think if I knew everything about an industry, I'd get bored. Besides, it's kind of impossible anyway.
7. All your friends have to love fashion, too.
And you have to have tons of drama and competition between you. What a terrible commentary on women and men who are into fashion; but it's a stereotype that exists because likeminded people are known to be drawn to one another from time to time. The good thing is that you don't have to live your life surrounded by industry insiders just because you like fashion. Celebrating one another's beauty in all forms and having a diverse range of friends is important and totally doable. It all comes down to your outlook and your own attitude towards others.
8. You have to have a job in fashion.
OK, so I know I technically have a job as a fashion writer; but I didn't always, and I was just as much into it then as I am now. You can be in absolutely any sector of any industry and still have a passion for fashion. It's just that simple.
9. You have to have secrets.
The last myth I'll address is the fact that if you're into clothes and makeup, you must have secrets and tricks that you can't tell anyone else. This basically implies that you won't share your knowledge with others just so you can "keep yourself ahead." I think one of the most fun things about loving fashion is sharing everything with your friends and helping each other come up with new ideas and looks to style. I know I love discovering a new beauty hack and telling everyone I know about it, as well as being on the receiving end of that, too.
My whole point is that there are plenty of things that could have held me back from fully letting myself get into fashion as an interest and hobby, but those things are irrelevant and, quite frankly, stupid. Don't let any of these myths hold you back either! The world needs to see your individual aesthetic in its full force. Be yourself, and let the things you love guide you into your pursuits — not the limiting ideals that are still out there.
Images: Christie Drozdowski; Wifflegif