Dressing For Yourself

Photography by Jenny Gavan.

I’ve always been an advocate of wearing whatever you want and it’s something I’ve *pretty much* always been comfortable doing. This doesn’t mean that I’m always dressed eccentrically and go out of my way to dress differently. But I really could not care less if someone doesn’t like what I’m wearing whether that’s friends, family or someone on Instagram. It’s possibly the only thing I’ve always been comfortable in because I really do just love clothes- buying them, styling them, talking about them. I know what I like and if I love a piece then I’m going to feel great wearing it.

I remember in high school (well, we wore uniforms but I mean during that period in my life) I would buy things that were perhaps slightly *different* to the norm that my friends and family would look at a little weirdly- never in a malicious way, always politely. The amount of times I’ve heard the phrase ‘I could never pull that off’ or ‘it suits you but I could never wear that’ as a polite way of someone telling me that they don’t like what I’m wearing is comical. But, unlike if someone¬†commented on my physical appearance or something I’ve said, I’ve never felt embarrassed or upset about the fact that some people don’t like what I wear. It’s definitely something to do with being able to choose what I wear and using this as a sort of shield to hide the other parts of myself that I’m not so confident about. Sometimes I’ll buy a particular shape of dress to hide a bigger part of my body that I’m not totally comfortable with (usually my boobs) or I’ll wear a ‘party girl’ type of outfit for a night out to conceal the fact that I probably am not as comfortable as the people I’m with in a night club. My clothes fill the gaps within me that have formed as a result of the lack of confidence I have in some other parts of myself.

My old blog was initially called ‘Style Comes From Within’ which I changed, after a couple of years, to ‘If You Like It Wear It’ (a little cringey, I know). Not to psychoanalyse my past self, but I think these names epitomise my confidence in my style. I was too embarrassed to share this blog on social media or even with my friends, due to issues I had with self-promotion and vanity plus my attempts to keep up the typical teenage ‘I don’t care about anything’ persona. Despite this, I was always proud of what I was wearing and excited to share it with people online who wouldn’t judge me for having a blog (as I assumed my peers would during my high school years). I actually think it would be interesting/hilarious to share some of my past outfits in a sort of style evolution post on my blog so let me know if this is something you’d like to see!

One of my absolute pet hates is when people (of both genders) assume that girls dress for boys. This is probably an assumption made more often when I was younger but it used to drive me absolutely insane! I mean I guess there’s nothing wrong with dressing for boys (although if we dug in to the meaning behind this I guess it could be a little problematic) but it’s genuinely something I’ve never done. Nights out used to be so much fun because finding something to wear that I loved was so exciting and the only thing that I considered when deciding what to wear was what I thought and how I felt in a certain outfit- this also meant that many of my outfits were highly, highly impractical but no one is going to get a kick out of living by practicality.

This ‘dressing for boys’ phenomenon is part of the reason why I absolutely love the blog turned extremely successful business, Man Repeller. I’m sure many of you know about Man Repeller already but in case you don’t it was founded by Leandra Medine in 2010 who realised that much of what she wore and saw within the fashion industry was ‘man repelling’ (to put it simply). The popularity of this blog and resonance it has with so many women represents, to me, the extent to which women do not dress for men, because much of what we wear they don’t like anyway. I feel like this is certainly the case for me and, honestly, this sometimes makes me like what I’m wearing more because it makes me feel like I have some sort of special sixth sense about just how cool a piece is. This is obviously extremely pretentious and I definitely do not have any sort of stylistic powers but I like to think that some of the more interesting pieces I own happen to be the ones that less people like.

I’ve been wanting to write a post about dressing for yourself for a while and when Jenny photographed this outfit for me, I knew these photos would be perfect for it. First of all, I am so happy with how they came out! Jenny is an incredible photographer and I’ve done a few other shoots with her before but these photos have to be my favourite yet. I think the outfit and the setting go so well together and I just love the colours in the photos. Definitely check out Jenny’s Instagram because she is brilliant!

Anyway, on to the outfit! I feel like it’s a little bit ‘man-repelling’ due to the mixture of very feminine and very masculine pieces. This dress is fairly new from Zara and I love it! I was on the hunt for a polka dot midi skirt for a while and this actually works great as a skirt and a dress as it’s a really thin material so looks great with a t-shirt layered over it, or layered under it as I’ve styled it here! The jacket is also new (my shopping habits are steadily increasing at the moment) from Topshop and I really feel like it might be the perfect faux leather jacket. I have a long-line one and a cropped one but this mid-crop style is ideal for somewhere in between and, although some might say that owning 3 faux leather jackets is excessive, I think it’s filled a gap in my wardrobe. Of course, I’m wearing my Zara woven bucket bag because it’s my absolute favourite and I think it looks great with the colours of the pinewoods. The dress and the bag are obviously the feminine aspects of the outfit and clashed with my docs- which I enjoyed styling for spring/summer here as they’re more of a winter piece normally- and the leather jacket, I think is such a cool outfit, if a little bit Marmite. I’ve linked everything I’m wearing at the bottom of this post!

I’d love to know if you feel the same way about dressing for yourself and your views on ‘man-repelling’ styling. Do you have a favourite man-repelling outfit or piece? Let me know in the comments!

Dress- Zara (for some reason, I can’t find this dress on the Zara website but I only bought it a few weeks ago so it should 100% still be in store!)

Jacket- Topshop

Shoes- Dr Marten

Sunglasses- Mango

Bag- Zara

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