Everyone’s journey to building a strong and healthy self-image is a unique one. Figuring out how to project that self-image is even more difficult; style is not just clothing or accessory, it is self-expression. Self declaration. We all go through times of confusion, struggle, and enlightenment, in order to figure all of that out. Today I’m excited to turn over the mic to my friend Victoria of The Not-So-Southern Belle, as she shares her own personal journey to a sense of style. She’s a saucy lil’ lady whose talent is as evident as her beauty and I’m so happy to have her words gracing these pages. So with no further ado…
When Christina so graciously asked me to contribute to Tide and Bloom, I was extremely flattered and said yes without hesitation. Then, I immediately went into a panic thinking what the hell am I going to write about? I’m no fashion/creative/lifestyle authority. But here’s the thing: I don’t have to be. I guess you could say I have my own sense of style, and I own it. That’s all that really matters, right?
I could sit here and say I’ve always had body confidence, that I’ve always known what works for me, that I’m just naturally stylish—but it would all be total bullshit. As the always-sort-of-chubby-yet-cute-girl growing up, I went through a lot of phases. Freshman and sophomore year of high school I wore a lot of t-shirts. My mother used to beg me not to buy yet another “stupid [insert Hollister, Abercrombie, etc.] t-shirt.” Something clicked junior year and I decided to expand beyond my comfort zone. Well, sort of. I have this very distinct memory of the first time I was really proud of any outfit I put together. I used to actually spend a lot of time doing my hair (now, I’m lucky if I even wash it more than twice a week), and I’d just figured out the whole ponytail-with-a pouf thing. I paired it with a red Viva La Bam (oh, the days I actually used to watch MTV) t-shirt, a mini-skirt and these killer white, sporty heels. Yes, I wore heels to high school; quite often, actually.
Now, it may not have been the most stylish thing to wear, but I loved that outfit and it showed. I got so many compliments that day. After that, I started having more fun just wearing whatever the hell I wanted. I think that’s the biggest thing: confidence. If YOU love an outfit, then it shows to the rest of the world. Over the years I’ve had multiple people tell me, “I could never wear that, but you totally rock it.” Or, “I’d never be daring enough to wear that, but you could totally pull it off.” Maybe I’ve just become known as the girl who will wear anything, but more than that, I think I just have the confidence to push the envelope.
The biggest advice I can hope to pass on when deciding what to wear is only three words: GOTTA LOVE IT. A friend’s grandmother once told me this while we were shopping, and it has always stuck with me. If you don’t absolutely love it in the dressing room, you’re going to absolutely hate it later. Those are the only looks I’ve ever regretted. The outfit that I only sorta-kinda liked in the dressing room, but hoped that maybe I’d like it more at home? Nope. Still hanging in my closet collecting dust.
And part of “loving it” is having the confidence to put it on in the first place. Like a swipe of red lipstick when you need a boost on a bad day, confidence truly is the best accessory a girl can have. You could be wearing a paper sack, but because you’re styling from within (read: with confidence) you project that sense of sass to the world.
Building confidence doesn’t happen overnight. It takes days and days of baby steps, and even some days where you’re downright faking it—and that’s totally OK. Just make sure on the days you’re feeling extra fearless you push yourself to try something new. Whether it’s that really cute cutout dress or just a flashy pair of earrings, heading outside with just a little bit of confidence can make you feel like you’re conquering the world. And you are—one outfit at a time.
Shameless promotion: I just started a new blog—The Not-So-Southern Belle. Come check it out and follow along as I stumble my way through Southern gatherings, remodel the home I have with my gentleman, and learn what it is to truly be a Southern Belle.