Working in fashion has taught me that there are as many styles as there are hearts (yes, I did modify a quote by one of the greatest writers of the 19th century to suit the purpose) and that, even though working in styling consists of making outfits look cute to the general public, there are basically no wrong answers.
But let’s be real for a second. There is a reason why a girl with eclectic red hair, with little hearts drawn on her face, wearing a dark green corset and shiny platform Mary Janes made it to the What People Are Wearing in NYC video. She chooses to express herself in a way that is definitely not conventional. It’s a question that’s been roaming around my mind for a while: Are we annoyed by people dressing differently than the norm?
A way to express ourselves
Being more or less vanilla myself (other than that one time I wore a clip-on ear piercing in my sophomore year of high school), I turned to an expert: my friend Tijana, a record label marketing whiz, whose style I’ve admired for years. She rocked turquoise hair for years, and this was almost ten years ago, so before TikTok had made anything and everything mainstream.
I was curious to know what had prompted her to dye her hair such an unusual colour. “It was my way of putting my artistic side across. But, after three years, I didn’t feel like it reflected my character anymore, and I decided there were other ways to express my creativity, so I went back to my natural hair colour. ” I also wanted to know if she faced any comments or weird looks in the street. “I’ve never had anybody say anything hurtful to my face, but I have gotten a great deal of disapproving looks.”
According to this research (and anthropology as a science), the fact that we were and are able to ally in packs played an important role in our survival as a species. It’s an evolutionary thing early humans had realised instinctively: we’re more likely to survive if we exist as a part of a group.
Ideologies that are focused on the premise that everybody is equal, such as communism or socialism, relied on the human instinct to unite, and their societal norms mimicked the biological ones; we shouldn’t really be too distinctive.
People tend to follow the rules because they genuinely believe them to be right, according to the Why Children Follow Rules book by Tyler and Trinkner, which consequently would make those who do not follow them… wrong?
Let’s call a spade a spade: People who dress unconventionally or sport an unusual hair color are essentially brave enough to dare to stand out, and if we’ve never stepped out of the realm of beige, a glimpse of envy might worm its way out.
Could it be jealousy?
How irritated or shocked we get by seeing people express themselves differently evokes a similar feeling to waiting in airport lines: you’re queuing, dreading every second of it, and somebody plays dumb and skips the line. Personally, that enrages me to a boiling point: “Why do I bother respecting social norms when others are not in the least?”
On an unconscious level, it almost feels like they’re mocking us, and the quickest way to get over this ‘injustice’ is to pass quick judgment. Of course, it is not really the same because style is an individual choice that isn’t actually hurting anyone, and skipping lines is… there are no words.
Playfulness is the key
According to this article, being playful means allowing yourself to engage in an open-ended activity which will eventually serve as inspiration to the creative process that is dressing up.
In the end, we love this certain playfulness when combining these seemingly unmatchable colors, prints, and designs. There is something carefree and childlike in giving yourself the freedom to put on whatever your heart’s desire.