A conversation I had with the team at The Museum at FIT in New York about their upcoming project “Wearing Memories”, which explores the connections between fashion and memories, brought a few of my own half-baked thoughts on the topic to a point of culmination.
I have always felt that my personal style, apart from being a reflection of my personality traits and current moods as per fashion psychology theory, also reflects the different “selves” that live within me. Ones that correspond to the different periods and elements of my life.
I am a 90s kid, early millennial, so when I was say 6-11, before the internet, I watched a lot of TV. I was obsessed with copying the looks of all my favorite characters, and was probably significantly influenced by DJ Tanner on Full House, Blossom, and the brunette character on Ghostwriter. Lenni, I think. There was point when when Blossom started wearing berets and over-the-knee socks with mini-skirts, and I very much tapped into that look.
Having grown up in Toronto, there’s of course, Canadian Girl. She was raised wearing Sorels and a variety of other statement snowboots, Moonboots, and Inuit-style moccasin boots, full Lululemon, TNA parkas and all the Aritzia brands. This was basically me all throughout university, and I cannot bear to throw away my TNA parka as it reminds me of sleeping on the library floor at York U during exam time (another thing Canadians have no qualms about doing). And to this day, I love a fierce snowboot, and will wear these out and about in London, despite getting weird looks from strangers and comments like “those are some boots!”
There’s also the Hip-Hop Head. Urban culture, way before Drake, has been a big part of Toronto’s identity, and for this reason, there will always be a bit of teenage hoodrat in me. Believe or not, there was a rebellious period when I would troll the streets of West Toronto in a Fubu jersey tucked into shorts, a fanny pack worn cross-body, Nike Cortez, way too much makeup, a highly gelled hairstyle and some seriously ghetto gold earrings. Point being, at 33, I still want to work in some aspect of this. Come summer, if I find a summer-dress look too prissy, I will slip on some trainers. And a fanny pack. It’s really hard to find that style of gold hoops these days, but if you see a pair, let me know.
Then there’s definitely a Parisienne in there. Having been quite the Francophile when I moved to London and started taking weekend trips to Paris on the Eurostar, the melancholic intellectual in me very much connected with that aesthetic, and I always innately gravitate towards, black, grey, navy and neutrals.
In the name of fashion psychology, I can’t of course, discount the influence of my personality. I am an extremist, and as such only wear mini or maxi hem lines, nothing in between. Flats or high heels. I am allergic to midis and kitten heels. I am highly neurotic (lots of black and a dark aesthetic), moderate on conscientiousness (nothing too prim), high on openness to experience (love avant-garde design), low on agreeability (love studs, tough boots and anything rebellious), and moderate on extraversion (I love homey cashmere and athleisure as much as I like eveningwear).
But memory is powerful, and when triggered by a the sight of young Olsens, a bout of extra-cold weather, or the sound of Wu-Tang’s Triumph, I may indulge in some seemingly unexpected style decisions.