How I Became a Well-Dressed Girl

I remember studying my reflection in my parents’ bedroom mirror one spring day in fifth grade and being pleased. I wore a two-piece cotton set with a sleeveless top and matching shorts. A subtle fruit themed print ran across the fabric with a golden background. At my current age (19), I would never wear that outfit today but at age 11, it was a tasteful ensemble. It suited my frame and all of my natural features and I knew it. From that point on, consciously or not, I strove to be the well-dressed girl. In middle school, I gleaned from my mother’s closet, read fashion history books, examined pages of Vogue, Elle, and Marie Claire, and always read The Washington Post’s “Style” section. I wanted to be elegant and elegant I became.

From paisley skirts to polyester scarves, everyone who knows me is familiar with my style. A childhood friend told me that, if walking through a clothing store, she could instantly recognize what I would wear—and what I would avoid. Of course since I have had more or less the same style since seventh grade with few modifications, a person would have to be completely oblivious not to notice what colors, textures, and patterns I like. Every outfit of mine is bohemian, from the touch of rayon to the glimpse of lace. I embrace variety and details.

Today, for instance, I’m wearing a short, velvet leopard print dress over jeans that are tucked into Ugg knock-offs. On top, I have on a dark brown leather bomber jacket and medium-sized gypsy hoops swinging from my ears. It’s an unusual combination that’s sure to get noticed for the better. After all, how many other girls would wear Uggs that way? Not many…but that’s a source of my pride. I don’t do what everybody else does.

I dress the way I do because I started seeing trends in what I liked in fashion books and magazines and then experimented from there. I never followed a trend for the mere sake of strutting around in something “hot.” If I admired a trend, I integrated it into my wardrobe and found a way to pull it off but beginning with what caught my eye was the perfect place to commence my journey toward being well-dressed.

Purples and reds have always been my favorite colors but, more generally, I gravitate towards jewel and earth tones to compliment my medium brown hair, my olive skin, and my hazel eyes. I chose the colors I thought were pretty and, conveniently, they also happened to be the ones that look best on me. Around the same time, I also moved towards certain patterns (mainly paisley, animal prints, and as a more distant third, select florals), fabrics (most often velvet, rayon, denim, corduroy, leather, polyester, and plain cotton), and jewelry (with ethnic or Victorian flair.) Thankfully, it all came together somehow.

The truth is that I am a careful dresser but I’ve learned to throw everything together quickly. I can be up and out of my dorm room in ten minutes, easily and comfortably. I don’t want to be fussy or too high-maintenance. I want to look presentable but I would hate to come off as overdone in an ultra-vain sense. So I try to organize my closet in a way that helps me find what I want fast and I do have certain ways of putting together surefire outfits that I know will work. Years of practice have made this all second nature to me. I am the well-dressed girl I always promised myself I would become.