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! 

8 Elements of Character Costume Design

Whether it’s for Halloween, Disney-bounding on vacation, or just for the fun of putting together an outfit that’s inspired by a favorite movie, TV, video game, or book character–I think we all enjoy getting into somebody else’s shoes every once in a while.

This post will be looking not only at how to get the aesthetics right, but also at how to use character traits and storyline for inspiration, so we can get to the heart of the character we are portraying.

So, here are 8 aspects of costume and character design to consider before creating your character-based outfit:

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.

Joy to the World – Holiday Outfit

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”.

Attitude & Artistry: A Style Story Interview with Kader | + Thoughts on Culture, Confidence, and Compassion

“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

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.

Sketches of Anxiousness – My Anxiety-Inspired Fashion Collection

I felt inspired to bring how i was feeling onto paper in the form of conceptual fashion sketches.

I thought i’d share them with you for two reasons:
1. To give hope that you’re not alone and that others understand what you’re going through.

2. To shed light on what mental health issues feel like–anxiety in particular–and hopefully bring in some more understanding and sympathy.

Quaint Style Guide: 5 Elements of Cozy Mori-Kei Fashion

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.

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.

Witchy Style Guide: 4 Powerful Elements of Gothic Bohemian and Dark Mori Kei Fashion

Powerful, magical, dark, and dramatic fashion for fierce and romantic individuals with great curiosity, serenity, love for nature, and humble understanding of their strengths and weaknesses as well as the depths and beauty of life and death.
 

If that sounds like you, read on to learn how to create a wardrobe that is as Witchy as your soul, and venture into a life of magic of your own creation, as these powerful but graceful looks inspire you to embrace and strengthen all aspects of yourself, equally unafraid of your light and your dark

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.

Gyaru Chameleon: A Style Story Interview with Lizzie Bee

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.
The Gyaru subculture centers around having fun with fashion, being unafraid of breaking the “rules” to create something more exciting– life itself becomes a party, and “get wild, be sexy” is one of their most prominent mottos. The style is extremely eclectic and focused on boldly being yourself.

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