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

Becoming Comfortable In Yourself

Photography by Jenny Gavan.

‘Being comfortable in your own skin’ is a phrase that has been used lots over the past few years as body confidence has become more and more of a ‘hot topic’. This is something that I think is really great and I wish this emphasis on being confident in your body was more prevalent in my high-school years as I know it would have helped me to accept what I looked like, and specifically my body, much more than I did. However, pushing my journey with being comfortable in my own skin aside, today I want to talk about simply becoming comfortable in yourself as a person. I’ve changed so much as a person over the past three years and it’s something I’ve struggled to adapt to. But now I’m coming to the end of my first year at University, I think I’m becoming much better at unapologetically being myself.

I’m including these photos with a post about self-acceptance because they were taken on a main road and in an arcade, two places where I got a multitude of strange looks while posing. So, on this day, I really had to feel confident in myself and what I was doing. I’ve mentioned this before, but the reason it took me so long to re-start a blog is because I wasn’t comfortable enough in myself to do so. Posing for photos then sharing them all over on social media and taking part in almost daily ‘shameless self-promo’ is just something I couldn’t see myself doing, even though some of the people I look up to most do this every single day as part of their full-time job. Since launching my blog 3 weeks ago (I can’t believe it’s been ONLY 3 weeks), I feel like I’ve begun to accept myself for who I am more than ever before, not just in doing things related to my blog but with everything I’m up to in life.

Throughout my high school years, I was a huge extrovert. Socialising was what I most looked forward to and I especially loved drinking and partying on the weekend with my friends. I’ve always enjoyed time on my own even during this phase in my life. But at this point, a Saturday night-in was rare and I was happy that this was the way it was. I’ve always been conscientious and enjoyed (most parts) of school and education but I never took it too seriously during high school. But when I started sixth form, almost three years ago now, my attitude totally changed.

From day one of sixth form, I was doing excessive amounts of work every day, completely pushing myself to my limits. During my first year of sixth form, I coped with this. Socialising was still a big part of my life and I was going out most weekends. I had a new boyfriend and my ‘work-life balance’ was pretty good- even if this meant getting up super early to start work or staying up all night to finish it. Although my social life didn’t suffer this year, my mental health definitely did. I didn’t know it at the time but I think this is where my anxiety really began to develop. I set my targets so high academically that I would make myself feel bad if I wasn’t getting everything I needed to done. So, in my second year of sixth form I decided, and I’m not sure whether this was conscious or sub-conscious, that I needed to spend most-all of my time working towards my A-Levels.

A whole post would be needed to talk about the effects of A-Levels on my mental health and I’m not going to go into that now but essentially, my attitude towards work kind of led me to become more introverted than I already was. It was also in my second year of sixth form that I developed a sort of intolerance to alcohol. I haven’t got a formal diagnosis but I basically become very ill off as little as one or two drinks, so this also obviously discouraged me to go out as much. I was never unhappy to have to stay in though. At heart, I think I’ve always been an introvert because some of my happiest memories from my teenage years are being sat on my own in bed doing something creative, which is my absolute favourite thing to do now. But I think the pressures of A-Levels and my practical inability to drink alcohol really allowed the introvert within me to materialise.

I’m also a very anxious person so this combined with being an introvert and my issues with drinking obviously don’t mix well with British UNI culture, which mainly consists of socialising and drinking alcohol. So since starting UNI in September, it has been kind of difficult because I’ve felt like I really do know who I am and what I like doing but because I didn’t want to isolate myself from people at UNI (which I’m glad I didn’t because I’ve met some amazing people) I kind of had to go against what I knew about myself.

Now I’m a little bit more settled in at UNI and I no longer constantly feel like I need to try and make friends, I feel much more able to be myself. I used to be really embarrassed about going home for the weekend because I was feeling anxious. Avoiding doing so actually led to a pretty bad panic attack during a seminar back in November. Now, I know that there’s nothing shameful about going home for the weekend, even if I’m not feeling anxious and am just doing so simply because I want to. Everyone’s different and some parts of UNI are great for people and others are not. I personally love the academic side of my degree, but living in halls isn’t something I love. Some of my friends though hate/hated their degree but love/loved living in halls. There’s nothing wrong or shameful with being in either of these situations and I admire anyone who is brave enough to admit to this and change their situation for the better. Also, I’d just like to point out that I really don’t hate the social side of UNI. I struggled to adapt to the constant socialising but I feel like I’ve managed to find a balance now and am really enjoying it at the moment, even if I need the odd weekend at home to spend time with myself.

So I just wanted to write about my ‘journey’ (lol, cringe) with becoming comfortable with who I am to try and help others accept themselves and those around them. I’m no where near 100% comfortable with myself and still feel guilt for lots of the things I do. But being able to identify that guilt and shake it off is really important. You should never feel bad for doing something you want to do because life is too short to put yourself through things you don’t enjoy, most of the time. That’s enough clichés for one post anyway, moving on to talk a little bit about my outfit…

This is very much a staple outfit for me during the summer, if the loafers were swapped for my Vans. But I would definitely style it with the loafers for a more formal, evening-appropriate look. This is my absolute favourite blazer (even if everyone and their dog owns a similar one) because, despite it being patterned, it goes with everything and the Prince of Wales check adds such a classic look to all of my outfits. I lived in this denim skirt last summer and am planning on doing the same in the coming months. A denim skirt is, again, such a classic piece and is so easy to wear. On colder days I like to style it with a chunky knit and on warmer days with a crop top. For British summer-appropriate weather, I’d style it somewhere in the middle, similarly to how I’ve worn it here with a T-shirt and a blazer. I love this Mia Wallace t-shirt with this red bag as, I think, the subtle colour-combination really ties the outfit together. Plus, a printed t-shirt and a bag that is any colour other than black always makes an outfit that little bit more interesting, in my opinion.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post! I’d love to hear about your journey with self-acceptance in the comments. I’ve linked everything I’m wearing or similar alternatives at the bottom of this post.

Top- Bershka

Skirt- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)

Blazer- Pull & Bear (old, similar here)

Bag- MissGuided

Shoes- Pull & Bear (similar, almost identical, here)

Date Night Dressing

Today I’m sharing some more photos taken by the wonderful Jenny Gavan. I’ve been eager to share more of them ever since last Sunday’s post but I’ve managed to restrict myself from overloading you with them until now. When styling this outfit, I had a kind of ‘date night’ look in mind. Date nights, whether they’re with my friends or my boyfriend, are always something I love styling myself for as I feel they really give me an opportunity to dress a little bit more feminine than I do in my day-to-day style. This outfit is definitely something I’d feel really confident in wearing for a date.

One thing that I pretty much always try to incorporate into a ‘date night’ look is a red lip. For me, a red lip totally elevates any look and is so versatile in that it works for everyone and anyone’s style. I particularly love co-ordinating a red lip with an item of clothing I’m wearing, in this case it’s my bag, to help me feel a little bit more put together and confident. This lipstick is Glossier’s Generation G in Zip– I’ve been wearing it quite often since I purchasing it and it’s definitely the easiest and most fuss-free red lip I’ve ever owned.

I am so into polka-dots at the moment. I feel like everyone and their dog is to be honest because they’re everywhere but this blouse is one of the many pieces of polka-dot printed clothing I have succumbed to buying in the last few weeks. This blouse sat in my ASOS saved items for a good month before I bought it. For some reason with certain pieces, even ones that aren’t crazily expensive, I just can’t bring myself to buy them. Whereas with others, I’m happy and eager to pick them up as soon as I see them. I think it might all be about cost per wear really because blouses really aren’t something that I’d wear day-to-day and I would definitely save a piece like this for something like a date night. However I have seen similar blouses to this one styled really well for the day time- Sammi Maria styled a similar piece from Topshop with a denim skirt, which looked so good and is definitely a look I’m going to try and re-create. Anyway, again, I think polka-dots can really add a touch of femininity to an outfit and as soon as this blouse entered my wardrobe, I knew straight away that it would look great with red lipstick.

These jeans are in my absolute favourite style from Topshop- the Cropped Dree. I have them in this black wash as well as a lighter pair, which I’ve featured on my blog a couple of times. The fit is a little bit more flattering and formal than your average pair of straight leg jeans but I think their frayed hems keeps them casual and easy to wear.

This cross-body bag is a new addition to my wardrobe from MissGuided. I was on the hunt for a small-ish red bag because I thought owning one would help me to incorporate more colour into my outfits as well as giving me more opportunities to wear red lipstick. I love the croc print of this and the gold hardware, something that I always look out for because of my everyday jewellery usually being gold. It is a little bit impractical though, I mean, it doesn’t even fit my phone in (although I do have the largest iPhone- the size of which consistently shocks people when they spot me with it). However, it’s not something that I bought to use every day anyway and I always tend to keep my phone in pocket so this doesn’t really bother me. For some pieces, I’m willing to push practicalities aside.

Now onto these shoes- my beloved Mary-Jane style shoes that I have worn many a time when everyone else is wearing heels (comfortability of shoes is probably the only time practicality really does come into play with my outfit choices). These are probably the most feminine shoes I own, maybe even the most feminine thing I own full stop. I feel like they really can transform an outfit and they’re pretty much always my shoe of choice for a date night. I can also confirm that they are very comfortable.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog post and have taken some inspiration for any date nights you might have planned! If you don’t have any planned, you should! It’s so important to carve out quality time with your friends and/or partner. Plus, you really don’t need to leave the house if you don’t want to. Some of my favourite date nights have been spent on the couch with a tub of Ben & Jerry’s (my favourite is the vegan Peanut Butter and Cookies flavour) watching a film (red lipstick and Mary-Jane’s optional).

Blouse- ASOS

Jeans- Topshop

Bag- MissGuided

Sunglasses- Primark (should still be in stock in store but for an online alternative, see here)

Shoes- ASOS (old and can’t find good alternative, sorry!)

Watch- CASIO

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The Stigma Around Blogging

My blog has now been up and running officially for a week and I’m enjoying so much having it as a place to share everything I’m interested in. From designing the website, to writing the posts, to taking photos, a lot goes into it but I’m loving every part of it and feel so happy to have a space on the internet where I can finally do these things that I enjoy. Thank you if you’ve been reading my blog posts and showing your support on social media over the past week- I’d probably continue running my blog and writing posts even if no one was reading them as I genuinely do enjoy it so much, but it is also really nice and rewarding to know that others are enjoying it too,

However, something that I’ve noticed, not just in the week that I’ve been running this blog, but back when I ran my old blog and ever since taking an interest in bloggers and the blogging community really, is the stigma around blogging. It’s the reason that I wouldn’t share my previous blog, that I had for around 3 years, on social media and the reason that it took me so long to start up this one. It’s definitely something that I don’t think is as prevalent for me as it was a few years ago, whether that’s because of the people I surround myself with, the growth of the blogging community, or simply me giving less of a sh*t of what people think. But even if this stigma has diminished, people still seem to have a problem with blogging.

Actually, I think I should re-phrase that. It’s not just that people have a problem with blogging- no one turns the nose up at the fact I run the Girls Against blog- it’s blogging about personal style and creating a blog around yourself and your own life and personality that seems to really carry a stigma. From people looking at you weird when someone’s taking a picture of your outfit or the bitchy remarks made about the fact you’re willing to post these pictures on Instagram to the sarcastic mocking of anyone who plucks up the courage to do so, there’s something about personal blogs that people just aren’t comfortable with.

I think it’s probably something to do with how ingrained self-deprecating is into British culture. Most people just aren’t at ease with being confident in themselves- and I’m not saying that I’m a totally confident person and always feel great about the person I am and what I look like- but I don’t see a problem with photographing an outfit that I’ve put time and effort into putting together  because I think it looks good. I still struggle when I’m talking about my blog or anything that I’m doing that is either/both unusual or I’m doing well in not to do so with an air of self-deprecation. But I always, always, always make a conscious effort not to put anyone else down in that position, because you can usually be sure that everyone feels at least some self-doubt about something in their life, so they don’t need others putting them down about it too- especially if it’s something positive.

I really couldn’t care less anymore if people think blogging is ‘vain’ or ‘weird’ because it’s something that I love doing and I know it’s affecting my life in a  positive way. If there’s anything you’re thinking of doing, whether it’s starting your own blog or something totally different, but you’re putting it off because of what people might think, just do it (and no, this post is not sponsored by Nike- that cliche has just come in handy here). People are always going to make comments and say things behind your back and give you weird looks in the street (this one is mostly applicable to blogging but would definitely work for other things too…I hope) so you may as well just start doing something that you love for yourself.

Anyway, I’m including these photos whilst discussing this topic because they were taking in a very public place where I got my fair share of strange looks whilst posing amongst the leaves and in the mud for them. Also, these are my favourite photos that I’ve shared on my blog so far (and will probably stay that way for a while) and so I thought they were appropriate for a conversation about doing things you love and self-confidence! They were taken by the amazing Jenny Gavan and there’s going to be a couple more posts with photos taken by Jenny coming up in the next week or so that I’m really excited to share, and hopefully even more in the future! Jenny is an incredible photographer and I’d highly recommend taking a look at some of her work- you can find her on Instagram @jennygavanphoto.

I’ll also talk a little bit about this outfit (and then I’ll shut up because this post is getting loooong). Starting with the jeans because they’re how the styling of this outfit began, I picked them up in a vintage shop called Armstrongs, recommend to me by my lovely friend Anna, whilst in Edinburgh a few weeks ago. After having them taken up they fit perfectly and I’m so happy to have them in my wardrobe as a pair of white straight-leg jeans are something that I’ve been looking for for quite some time. And, to top it all off, they’re by Yves Saint Laurent which, although I’m not big on buying designer clothes (purely because I cannot afford them- let’s not pretend that I’m taking some sort of admirable political stance here), I was pretty excited to find these for £20. My favourite pair of jeans were actually £1 in a charity shop and so now I’m always on the hunt for good second-hand denim and I have a feeling this pair are going to be another of my favourites.

This bardot top is super feminine and I like how it offsets the more boyish shaped jeans and converse and oversized fit of the denim jacket. The bag, which I ordered almost immediately after seeing it on Georgia Meramo and Emma Hill, also adds a feminine touch, as I feel a straw bag always does, and makes the outfit a little more spring-appropriate, which I love as I live for spring and summer dressing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this post and these incredible photos. Thanks again to Jenny for taking them- I couldn’t be more happy with how they came out! Let me know in the comments or on social media about your experience with blogging and if you’ve ever noticed ‘the stigma’ (as I think I’ll ominously refer to it from now on).

Top- Pull & Bear (similar here)

Jeans- Vintage (similar here)

Jacket- Topshop (similar here)

Shoes- Converse

Bag- Zara

 

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