While I know I'm probably more aware of current fashion trends of late due to living in one of the fashion centres of the world, I've been aware of how women dress for quite some time, long before I moved to London. As I've grown older, I've realised that the latest fashion trends and social norms shouldn't (and don't) dictate how I dress. The person I want to be, the person I want others to view me as, should be (and is) what dictates how I dress. I do inject pieces of current fashion into my wardrobe, but the more important theme to me is to be feminine, elegant and modest.
My wardrobe should reflect my femininity, my understanding that I am different and more delicate than men. And it should also reflect that I am confident in who I am.
My life journey through fashion was all over the map, partly influenced by my surroundings, partly influenced by family and friends and partly influenced by the image I wanted to project - probably no different than most women, maybe even most people in general.
In the very early years, my mother - being ecstatic that I was a girl - dressed me in dresses as often as possible. I happily continued that trend into childhood, once I had a say in my wardrobe, but as I grew older, dresses became a hassle and I wore jeans and trousers more and more. And then, given my age, I was a teenager and a uni student during the dreaded grunge era - where to look feminine was the epitome of uncool, so suddenly there were *no* dresses in my wardrobe.
And through all of these fashion eras and changes, I was also a rather self-loathing child...I just never had that much confidence in myself growing up, despite a very happy and stable family life. I didn't date until uni and not by choice - men didn't ask me out in my teen years.
It was quite possibly a catch-22: I dressed as the unattractive and boyish girl I saw myself as and that was the image I portrayed, so boys avoided me. But shortly into my uni years, I began to dabble in the then-rising fashion trend toward skirts...but these were very, very short skirts and dresses, coupled with low-cut blouses. Suddenly, I had all the male attention I could dream of.
I still wore jeans much of the time, they were just easier...but the attention I attracted in those too sexy skirts somehow healed my ego. I finally saw myself as physically attractive, only I was coming to an age where I also wanted romance and love - I wanted to be respected and cared for. But that wasn't the type of attention I was attracting.
From then on, through my adulthood, I began to soften and grow in my attire...I started to understand that ideally, I should wear skirts and dresses all the time - at a modest and elegant length. And further, there should be a soft and feminine theme to these clothes.
So now, several years into this mindset, I have far more feminine clothes than masculine clothes - and on the days when I'm too lazy to be feminine, I feel awful about how I look. I worry about what men and other women think of me.
Conversely, when I *do* make an effort and look feminine, I love the image that I project. I have hope that men see me as feminine and appropriate. But at the same time, I often worry that other women think I look overdressed or silly.
Interestingly, I notice that skirts are very much back in style lately and I've been pleasantly surprised that my own focus on skirts and dresses doesn't make me seem out of place and overdressed on the streets of London...but sadly, I've also noticed that some women choose to wear very short skirts. And then there's my most hated new fashion trends - jeans with tall boots over them. I have to admit, part of me hates this trend simply because it looks silly :) But part of me just dislikes it because it's simply not feminine....it's unfeminine and yet very, very popular.
I often people watch on the London Underground, trying to notice how many women are dressed appropriately feminine, how many look too sexy and how many are dressed as men - wearing jeans or trousers. And I try to understand the images we are all projecting.
So the question is, how much does fashion really matter? Am I overreacting to think that women should always wear skirts and dresses? And further that these skirts and dresses should be elegant and feminine?
I don't know the answers...but I do know that I'm more attracted to a man who expects me to dress in a feminine manner. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that I'm only attracted to men who expect me to wear skirts and dresses.