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Homemade jean shorts? Check. Ridiculous oversized sweater that even Mr. Rogers himself wouldn’t wear? Check. Black tights? Dark brown, lace-up boots rolled over? Thick rimmed black glasses? Hair up in a perfect messy bun? Check, check, check, and…check. Black coffee in hand, I walk into the halls of my high school.

“Ooooooh, you look cute!” my friend says as I sit down next to her in our usual spot.

“Thanks,” I say almost laughing. “I literally just threw on like anything this morning. I look like a hot mess.” After casually shrugging another compliment, I pull out my iPhone and start my morning Tumblr reblogging session.

But, I didn’t just thrown on anything this morning. Actually, I planned out what I was going to wear last night and have since tweaked the outfit a handful of times. This messy, unkempt, “I don’t care” look actually took a lot of effort and planning. The tangle of a messy bun on top of my head took fifteen minutes to perfectly pin around a sock to give it that ideal balance of both volume and circular shape. I handmade these shorts last week, which took about a whole day considering I had to go out and buy the shorts, cut them, wash them, re-cut them, and finally, rewash them one last time. Tights are a pain, boots take forever to lace up, and soon this “I literally just threw it on” outfit doesn’t seem so disheveled. So why work so much to look like I care so little? Well, it’s my style. Since the beginning of high school, I, just like every other high school student, have claimed a look. But why not just stick with the “typical high school girl” look? (If you are unaware, look around. It’s Pink© yogas and brightly colored v-necks.) I chose to dress like this for the same reason why you put on what you did this morning— it’s a way to express myself. I’m not that girl who you see with a Vera Bradley© backpack and Pink© yogas. In fact, I don’t even own either of those. But I’d rather be that girl who dresses “artsy”—or as some even dare to call it, a “dirty hipster.” What someone wears is important and it is one of the first things people judge others on. Being in a school of over twenty-five hundred students, it’s hard to express oneself and be an individual person, but clothing is the easiest and most effective way of doing so.

Ever since kindergarten we’ve been taught two main things. One, be kind to others and two, be different. As we grow older, many people struggle with how to be different and how to not be too different. In high school, people define themselves with various activities or sports, their group of friends, the classes they take, but most importantly, what they wear. Whether or not they’ll admit it, everyone cares what others think about them. In high school, with five minutes to walk from one class to another, you pass many people, whether they are a complete stranger or one of your best friends. As you quickly walk through the crowded hallway, certain outfits and people are bound to catch your eye—both for good and bad reasons. But, nevertheless, you notice certain people more than others, right? Right. This shows how people use clothing to express themselves everyday. I promise you that the shy girl sitting at your lab table who has yet to speak a word this year isn’t wearing the flashiest of clothing. You have people, admittedly like myself, whose personality is a little bit louder and daring catching your eye. Our personality is reflected in our clothing choices. Some have argued that schools with uniforms are better for students socially because uniforms take away the competition or judgment of who’s style is weird and who’s style is the best. But, by unifying all the student’s clothing, schools are erasing a key way to be individual. Teenagers need to express themselves, and clothing is one of the safest and most effective ways of doing so. It might take me about 45 minutes to get ready in the morning, but the clothing I wear gives me a sense of power throughout the day. For once, I feel as though I have a say in how people perceive me. I’ve claimed my look for high school, and I love it.

Caring about what one looks like is no longer materialistic or shallow, but a way to show what one’s like inside. Clothing has become such an important part of our culture in this modern day and age, and there are a wide variety of styles out there to choose from. This need I have to dress so differently from what my school has deemed it’s norm shows how I want others to perceive me. So, judge me all you want and I hope it’s what I want you to think.



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