When I was much younger I was quite a tomboy. Being a girl wasn't open to interpretation, it meant floaty, frilly and pastels and things that could blow away in the next strong wind. I was more of an obnoxious stand-your-ground type girl, and no amount of wind howling about my ears was going to blow me away.I loved motorbikes and figuring out the mechanics of how things worked. I was influenced by punk styles, I wore things that were torn, held together by safety pins or made of leather. My wardrobe consisted of a lot of denim, leather and black.
As I got older, I cut off my super long, blond curly hair. I died it black. I wore jeans. I avoided skirts. When I was a teenager I remember the trend of having butterflies on things. Once shopping with my sister the shop assistant tried helping me. I gave her parameters of 'black' and 'no butterflies'. She couldn't help. That was the sort of mainstream fashion I was trapped with when I was desperate to not be the Disney girl that society seemed to be forcing on me. To this day, I don't really resonate with Disney princesses (but that Mulan warrior was tough).
One day at the end of high school, I wandered into a vintage clothing store down the road from school. The lady who owned it, Annie, saw something in me that I clearly did not. By that point I had started martial arts and had a fascination with Japanese fashion and decor. I don't know how Annie managed it, but she got me from the section with oriental smoking jackets into the vintage dresses, and then she offered me a job.
A job with Annie meant the obvious things like, she could teach me good work ethic and give me employable skills. These were things that helped me grow up and I was still learning them long after I left her shop. The best thing she did for me though, was putting me in a dress, standing in front of me, and seeing me. Not seeing a princess, not seeing my gender, seeing me. On top of that, I felt like me. I didn't feel uncomfortable, or like I was pretending. It was my first experience that I could wear dresses, I could wear different fabrics, I could wear not-black, and still be me. I made a small promise to myself during my time with her and it was as simple as this: no more black. Annie had introduced me to vintage fashion, which offered me an escape from the mainstream fashion that I was struggling with. It gave me the chance to understand that if I didn't relate to what was in the stores, I didn't have to rebel by doing the opposite. I didn't even have to play the game. There was a massive and endless world of fashion out there that I didn't need to reinvent or avoid, I just needed to explore. The colour black didn't have to be a crutch for my lack of identity with myself through clothes.
The years since that promise have changed my wardrobe. I have opened up to a lot more colour and style, but I'm still me. I'm more me, in fact. With each new piece of clothing I love I still find more ways to be comfortable in my own skin. My hair is no longer black, and I'm now very happy in a floral dress, but I no long feel that makes me weak or ineffective. I do own black, but it is no longer a filler for the void of identity and it isn't the most common colour in my wardrobe (according to my colour stats on Stylebook, that would be blue).
Earrings: Forever New
Dress: Alannah Hill
Photos and Flowers: Stu
I also still love bikes. And motorbikes.