“Vogue”: Final Project Reflection.
Identity is such a tricky subject. I find myself constantly grappling with it to no avail. Who am I? I feel like this is something that most, if not all people my age struggle with. We’re in this formative state of being, not fully independent in any physical or emotional respect, but attempting to become so in this fabricated, incubator reality of our college freshman year. We’re still attempt to find the concept of “home.” The places we used to inhabit, and by extent whatever defined us there, are now behind us. However, we’re still searching. Waiting to step into the skin of who we’ll become in Ann Arbor. Making eye contact, connections, jokes. Reaching out and hoping for other wanderers to latch on and accompany us on our search. Some people traveled short distances to Ann Arbor and brought bonds from home with them. Others, like myself, come from farther away and arrived here with nearly no attachments. Consequently, the beginning of my semester here was very difficult. Yes, I was meeting wonderful people and enjoying myself, but I also felt aimless and lost. I questioned everything I knew about myself. I doubted my talents and found myself usurped in every area I had excelled in for my entire adolescent life. The beginning of my college career largely consisted of me trying to recover my “lost” identity. And I’m still going through that process.What could latch on to? From the very beginning, I knew there was one thing that I could always count on to define me: My clothes.
Almost every morning this semester, I took a picture of my outfit right after I got dressed. I started doing this infrequently during my senior year of high school and have continued and strengthened the behavior in college. Sometimes I further edit the picture and post it on tumblr or instagram, but usually not. These photos were just for me. I use them when I need outfit inspiration, to remember good combinations, or simply to look at when I’m having a bad day. As I was looking through them, I realized that they were more than just documentation of my everyday life: these photos, these outfits, and the confidence they inspired in me were a large part of what constituted my identity this semester.
I decided to put together a multi-media photo essay. I wanted to use photos, music, and quotes to portray the message that define my identity through fashion. Putting together the project was fairly simple. I simply chose a collection of the outfit photos that I liked best. I put them in order based on which pictures had similar formats to make the video more cohesive. I had each photo in uniform time, and interlaced some of my favorite quotes about fashion where I saw fit. I set the entire video to the song that, in my opinion truly exemplifies the importance of fashion: Vogue by Madonna. I also included some stop-motion effects to add some fun and visual interest to the video. Ultimately, I think the project conveys what I want it to, but in a dynamic and exciting way that people can enjoy watching.
The opportunity to talk about my identity through fashion means quite a lot to me. I have always prided myself on dressing well. Clothing is the best way to make a first impression. I grew up in a house where my mother and father stressed the importance of being put-together. Not that appearance was the most important thing, but that the only way people will take you seriously is if you leave a good first impression by looking neat, clean, and cohesive. Growing up, I had interesting clothing phases, as we all do, but I feel as though I have cultivated a style that I am very proud of. Every day I strive to look classic and feminine, practical, professional, but also exciting. Preppy meets whimsical, conservative meats youth. I rarely wear jeans, save the leggings and sweatpants that most of my classmates don on a regular basis. I always color-coordinate and feel naked without a necklace. Part of my wardrobe extends to always wearing makeup and, in particular, lipstick. I’m seldom caught without it.
However, it is one thing to be able to describe my style, another to explain why fashion is so important to me to begin with. I wrote a paper on this very subject for my Shakespeare class my senior year of high school. We were studying Twelfth Night and discussing the themes of mistaken and concealed identity. Viola obviously conceals her true self behind a disguise. We turned the lens onto ourselves with the question ‘What “masks?” do we put on every day? One of our journal prompts was simple: is clothing a mask? How does what we wear showcase or conceal our identity? I wrote a rather lengthy response to this prompt, and realized that I dress the way I want others to perceive me. I want people to look at me and think that I am intelligent, put-together, feminine, attractive. It’s true, I’m not all that confident in my appearance. However, if my clothes are “pretty”, on some basic level, I will be pretty too. To me, clothing means confidence, a great outfit means a great day. Dressing well gives me the clarity and motivation to succeed, to go after my goals and eloquently discuss my ideas. I owe a lot to my clothes-they really helped me out this semester. I am so grateful to have had clothing as an outlet and passion during my first semester here at Michigan.