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 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!
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. 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.”
Some examples could be: a red rose representing “romance”, the American flag representing “freedom”, and a black sheep representing being an “outcast” or (more positively) “unique”.
Symbolic clothes and accessories make for excellent conversation pieces…and it’s within those conversations that you can best help people understand.
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 meaningful…at the very least, to you.
If what you wear means something to you, that’s the first and most important step.
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!