(photography by Joyce D'Epagnier, model: Alexis D'Epagnier)
"There is nothing like strutting down the street, standing out, and feeling 100% yourself."
Fashion is an art that promotes self expression in the face of public. Feeling amazing in your own clothes can actually improve your confidence and mood. Dressing how you feel comfortable and beautiful is all it takes. You don't need to be up to date on the latest trends or what Kanye West deems "cool." All you have to do is embrace who you are–the trend that will never go out of style. I interviewed six people on what fashion does for their confidence, mood, and mental health.
Describe your fashion (your style, go-to pieces, fashion influences)
Nicole: My typical style is a mix of comfortable and fashionable. I used to do technical theatre and now I work on sets so most of my outfits work with either work boots, such as a sweater and black leggings, or thick black combat boots, such as black skinny jeans and a nice cardigan, However, I do wear an obsessive amount of florals; my favorite outfit is a black shirt and a black skirt with orange roses on it with black tights under it.
Uyen: I love fashion. My style is luxe, elegant, and outstanding. I wear lots of dresses and statement jackets. My favorite to shop for is handbags. Go-to piece in my closet is definitely the Balmain white blazer and Hermes red handbag. Being a media influencer, I curate my closet and love my clothes to pieces. I take in inspirations from daily life and match my style to the occasions/locations.
You can follow Uye on Instagram @uyenmeow2808 or visit her fashion site kitteninheels.com
Liam: I wear a hat basically everyday. Tweed jackets, elements of antiquated Irish or English style. BBC’s Sherlock is a heavy influence. Love long coats for winter.
Lindsay: I have been described as a "cartoon", because of my bright hair contrasting with the bright colors I like to wear. I'd rather say that I'm quirky, cute, and comfy. Gravitate towards bright colors and patterns, but my style is ever changing. Can rock a flowy dress one day and harem pants with a crop top the next day. For style influences, I love looking at the instagrams of @The Charvelle and @jazzmynejay They are big, beautiful women that have fierce style and are not afraid to break clothing rules that society has put on bigger women.
You can follow Lindsay on Instagram at @forever21plus
Noah: My fashion has always been ever evolving. My discovery of queer art and fashion over the past year has truly had a massive impact on how I express myself! I am a huge fan of vivid colors and textures and splicing them together in weird ways. Love me some flowy pants! I have grown so tired of the same old men’s fashion that every store carries, so I now only really shop in women’s sections. I hate how “men” are expected to dress in such a constricted box of colors and structures. The selection is so much wider on the other side of the store!
Maria: I would say I'm all about classy comfort. I'm on the run all day, but I deff don't want to look it. I like to wear girly floral dresses or cute patterned shirts/shorts with more masculine collar chains, blazers, or dress shoes. I also like layering up a lot of bracelets and rings. Sometimes I wear bright sunny clothes, other times I wear classy dark dress clothes.
How does putting thought into your clothes and expressing yourself through the art of fashion make you feel?
Uyen: I find creating your own style can be empowering and comforting at the same time. It is creating an image that makes you feel powerful and familiar, making your unique qualities shine. I only wear five colors, making choosing clothes very easy and effective. I find that fashion should be easy, fun, and empowering.
Liam: It’s kind of important to me to cultivate this image. I work in marketing, social media, and the arts so I’m trying to reserve the identity state.
You can follow Liam on Instagram @nerdwiththehat
Maria: Wearing and being a clash of influences is fun. If I don't make even a little effort on how I dress, then I feel it throughout the day. Fashion is a great way to express your state of mind and being. When I feel good outside, I feel good inside.
Nicole: As for expressing myself through clothes, it always makes me feel better. Even if I feel well put together enough, it's nice to wear something not only flattering but has a sense of harmony to it.
You can follow Nicole @the_film_fatale
Noah: I truly feel that fashion is one of the most important and powerful art forms. It is simply using your own body and self as the canvas! When I take the time to put together a well thought out look, it fills me with confidence and pretty much always puts me in a positive state of mind. There is nothing like strutting down the street, standing out, and feeling 100% yourself.
Lindsay: I was always interested in fashion, but my mom hated the idea of my showing off cleavage or dying my hair crazy colors. So middle school and high school I dressed the way she wanted. (Except when I would get gift cards from friends and make purchases on my own). Going to college made me realize that I was restricting myself. I would wear scarves almost everyday, because my mom beat it into my head that my body was inappropriate. But time and getting a part time job income allowed me the financial freedom to dye my hair the way that I want to and buy the clothes that I want. It felt good to be finally in charge of my body, and given the chance to fall in love with myself.
What are some benefits for your mental health when you express yourself this way?
Liam: My anxiety from middle school onward was in this really awful place. In 6th grade—I went with the in crowd of what I thought was cool—wore that kind of thing because it projects this image. Then, at the end of high school—started to apply different things. Don’t dress with the herd. If we lose anything in terms of individuality, it would be so boring.
Lindsay: Putting together outfits has made me more confident in myself and my body.
Maria: My eclectic style represents my eclectic personality.
You can follow Maria @riaservellon
Uyen: It is very beneficial. I made a career out of dressing up. Dressing up nicely is a way to show your confidence because you show the world the love to your body and unique traits. Through developing your style, you understand yourself more. Every individuality is beautiful and fashion is a great way to show it.
Noah: Like I said above, expressing myself through fashion fills me with the utmost joy. I was recently at a music festival in NYC and I got stopped a couple times by photographers who wanted to capture my “look”. I felt a bit weird at first but then I started to use the moment as opportunities to meet new people and have some great conversations. I think when people see someone portraying their inner self externally in their style and fashion, it makes them more likely to want to do the same thing. If I can help someone else be more comfortable in their own skin, that is a true honor.
You can follow Noah on Instagram @no.ah