Fashion, Storytelling, Symbolism.

How Can i Tell a Story Through My Clothes?

 

What we wear can have a lot to say about who we are. It’s a powerful experience when we wear clothes that tell a story or make a statement.

Most of the time, unfortunately, the meaning isn’t clear to all who see your outfit–Often times leading to misconceptions based off of stereotypes. Which sucks. This can’t be permanently changed unless people are willing to learn to understand each other and not rely on preconceived ideas. Though my mission is to inspire people to look deeper and seek to understand people beyond their first impression, it’s important to acknowledge that this doesn’t come easy in our society.

Adding symbolic or iconic pieces to your outfit can make it a little easier, though, to make a clear, almost “readable” statement. Humans are visual creatures and love to add meaning to the things we see. We will always have a natural inclination to rely on symbols to make sense of the world around us…and even the people we meet. It’s why people gravitate towards trying to understand each other through stereotypes. Stereotypes are one huge collection of symbols. BUT this can be used to our advantage to tell the story we want people to hear, and even to turn incorrect stereotypes upside-down!

If you use symbolism, whether in image, colors, or written words (yes, language features symbolic meaning), your outfit can become more readable.

I like the way Richard Nordquist puts it in his article A Symbol in Language and Literature:

“A symbol is a person, place, action, word, or thing that (by association, resemblance, or convention) represents something other than itself.”

Typically, a culture or similar group of people can recognize and understand a particular symbol, despite the representing object usually being arbitrary in and of itself. The meanings are clearly understood from frequent use. There’s tons of room for creativity, too, because the symbols can leave room for debate since people have different opinions about concepts, and some symbols can hold many different meanings.

Some examples could be: a red rose representing “romance”, a skull representing “death” (whether physical or metaphorical), a peacock symbolizing “confidence” and “self-expression”, the American flag representing a form of “freedom”, an elephant symbolizing “gentle strength”, a fist representing “resistance” and “anti-conformity”, a python snake symbolizing “control”, the yin-yang symbol representing “balance”, or a black sheep representing being an “outcast” or (more positively) “unique”.

You can easily add symbols through fabric prints, embellishments, and accessories.

Getting more advanced–though vaguer in readable meaning–You can also deconstruct a symbol into just its color, an abstraction of its shape, or its texture.

Symbolic clothes and accessories make for excellent conversation-starter pieces…and it’s within those conversations that you can best help people understand what the outfit means to you.

Think about what you care most about, what your personality is like, and the things that have happened in your life that contributed to who you are: Can you think of any symbols that could represent these things?

Unless you’re using lots of words, fashion will always be mostly abstract in its meaning–even with symbolism–but if used well, it can be very meaningfulat the very least, to you.

If what you wear means something to you, that’s the first and most important step.

Tell us in the comments!: What symbols represent you?

 

 More Blog Posts to Help You Tell a Story Through Your Clothes:

 

Browse through Symbolic, Story Pieces to learn more about how to introduce symbolism into your outfits: One piece at a time.

Read a Style Story Interview to see fashion storytelling in action, through the lives and personal styles of real people around the world who know how to make a statement with their clothes.

Or find personalized advice in a Style Guide, and learn to build a wardrobe full of clothes that tell a story from the ground up, based around core values and a specific but customizable aesthetic.

As always, feel free to contact me or leave a comment if you have any questions about defining your style, or suggestions for what you’d love to see next on the blog! 

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“Where is far, far away and how do I get there?” Adventure fuels my soul, but i’ve felt incredibly stuck. I MUST maintain inner peace as the first step in any new adventure. This peaceful and adventurous outfit embodies these things.

Reckless: A Style-Story Interview with Gwen Bielicki of “Reckless Resale” |+ Confidence and Mental Health

Gwendolyn Bielicki is a fashion reseller on Poshmark, designer, mom of three young women, and a wonderful friend who is incredibly inspiring and thought-provoking when you get the chance to get a glimpse into her mind.

She’s an overcomer of depression, anxiety and OCD. A quiet but wise, quirky, imaginative soul with so much beauty to offer the world. Soulful, unconventional and by the beat of her own drum, the word that most reflects her style is “Reckless”.

Reckless Style Guide: 5 Elements of Punk and Grunge Fashion

This style is rocks. Fit for spontaneous individuals with free, rebellious souls and determined spirits. The rock-stars-at-heart who like to stomp out their own path and embrace their truest selves–imperfections, messy emotions, and all!

Does that sound like you? Learn how to create a wardrobe that is as reckless as your soul! Dare to be your most authentic self as these edgy looks inspire a boldly unrestrained life.

Kick-Ass Style Guide: 5 Strong Elements of Edgy Cyberpunk Fashion

Baddass, sleek, and edgy looks for the brave and daring, fighting souls who don’t sense defeat and look forward to the future.

The optimistic-realists, who realize the world is cruel but believe they can do something about it–Unafraid of playing dirty if it means they have a chance to make a positive difference in the lives of themselves and their loved ones.

If that sounds like you, read this guide to learn how to create a wardrobe that is as Kick-Ass as your soul, and embrace your life’s mission as these vigilant looks inspire an exciting, reckless, courageous life full of obstacles to overcome.

With this distinct, headstrong, looks-could-kill, Cyberpunk wardrobe (inspired by secret agents and vigilantes) even the most mundane days are full of bold purpose.

Happiness Is Freedom

I do not believe that false “joy” and stagnant “hope” are the answer…But i do believe that happiness can be discovered in little things when you feel like it’s nowhere to be found. When we’re able to find true happiness, we gain power to free ourselves, both on an emotional level and in a way that allows us to more easily work towards our goals, which will set us free on a more tangible level.

Whimsical Style Guide: 5 Elements of Modern Rococo Fashion

This fashion style is magical, spontaneous, and full of life and imagination. The perfect aesthetic for sentimental and playful individuals who find beauty in everything, big or small! For the child-at-heart who still wishes for fairytale dreams come true.

Does that sound like you? Learn how to create a wardrobe that is as Whimsical as your soul!

Dork-Chic: A Style-Story Interview with, Photographer, Heather James | + Compassion and Mental Health

“I have a funky, fresh, out-there personality and I feel like my clothes reflect that … I think that my clothes let people know that I’m open and that I’m ready to talk with people …” – Heather.

Idaho lifestyle photographer, Heather James, calls her style “Dork-Chic”. It’s quirky, but easy-going; Full of bold and happy patterns, but with toned down, depthy Fall colors that she considers to be super peaceful.

Idyllic Style Guide: 5 Elements of Country-Chic Cottagecore Fashion

Clothing imbued with the simple charm and idealism of the countryside and small-town life; for those who embrace the little day-to-day pleasures and find romance in bouquets of wildflowers and picnics in a meadow.

If that sounds like you, read on to learn how to create a wardrobe that is as Idyllic as your soul, and let life take you on a beautiful adventure as these nostalgic looks inspire a peacefully-exciting life full of simple pleasures and memories frozen in time.

With this charming, light and breezy, cheerful wardrobe even the cloudiest days are full of sunshine.

Pages – An Outfit Representing a New Chapter of Life

Life is a story… That we get to take part in both reading and writing!
We get to create who we want to be.
We get to watch life unfold.
Let’s enjoy every page!
What do you hope to “write” in this next chapter of your life?

#ClothingSpeaksMe – Communicating Who You Are Through What You Wear

Some specific articles of clothing just have a way of communicating who we personally are. They have a defining quality to them. Another person may not relate in the same way to the pieces you consider to be defining; but to you, it speaks you.

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