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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Charming clothing that is reminiscent of quiet and content, cabin-in-the-woods life–perfect for peaceful, sweet, nostalgic, quirky, independent (and especially introverted) individuals with a love for nature, creative works, and the idealistic thought of more simple, natural and relaxed living.
If that sounds like you, read on to learn how to create a wardrobe that is as Quaint as your soul, and slip into a quiet mindset as these nostalgic and cozy looks inspire a tranquil life full of simple pleasures and independence, surrounded by nature. With this charming, warm and comfy wardrobe strongly inspired by Mori-Kei (Japanese – Translates: “Forest Style”) you may experience a sense of peace and comfort in even the most hectic of days.

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“I think the most iconic thing [about my style] is my attitude. I grew up in a culture where women are expected to wear certain things and expected to behave in certain ways  … The more I found myself internally, the more it is reflected to the outside world. I’m confident, outgoing, friendly, and open minded and when it comes to my style I feel like I project the same characteristics.”  –  Kader

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Kader oozes confidence, charm, and creativity in every outfit she wears. She appreciates beauty and beyond the surface, she holds a universe of profound thoughts and a heart of gold.

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Elegant, show-stopping fashion for bold, optimistic, nostalgic, dramatic, and idealistic ladies and gents who wouldn’t mind it if they got blinded by the ever-charming beauty, glitz and glamour of classic Old Hollywood.

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If that sounds like you, read on to learn how to create a wardrobe that is as glamorous as your soul, and dare to believe in your dreams as these fancy looks inspire a rich and limitless life.
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This holiday outfit represents pure Christmas cheer.
I pulled together thoughts of Santa and his Elves for inspiration. A charm bracelet adds the finishing touch with words from a classic favorite Christmas song: “Joy to the World”.

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

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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.

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You’re most likely to find Lizzie having fun, twirling in a cute, floaty, pink dress, and making silly faces. She’s a sweet, playful, and hard-working blogger who writes about being Gyaru (which translates to “Gal”)–A fashion and lifestyle subculture that originated in Japan and exists all over the world.
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Sweetness of Love – An Outfit Symbolizing Our Relationship

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This outfit represents mine and Cody’s relationship in this time of our lives.

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“No matter what style I choose to wear, whether it’s streetwear or a whimsical style, colour and confidence will always be present.” – Tajinder Kaur

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Tajinder is determined, talented, genuine, beautiful, and has a unique and vivid sense of style. What first brought her blog to my attention is the mix of her quirky style along with her beautifully raw poetry–It’s an example of a fashion blog that is truly a “must-read” and not just a “must-view”.

Read her Style Story to learn more about her:

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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.

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Want to dress like Ariel? Here’s how to analyze Ariel from The Little Mermaid so you can create a costume or outfit inspired by her.

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