Before anything, let me introduce myself: The Closet Fashionista
I first came across the F word over a decade ago as I was poring through the pages of British Vogue while waiting for my flight out of London Heathrow. It was the summer I turned 18, living on allowance but pretentiously into labels I could not afford, that I lived the life vicariously by buying fashion magazines. (To my parents' middle class sensibilities, it was a puzzle why I was into clothes & the styling life when I was neither socialite nor star. They could not understand my deep interest in fashion and I could offer no explanation.)
At that very instant, while staring at the italicized fonts, I understood why I was different. I belonged to a "cursed" breed, an army of connoisseurs who live for fashion; afflicted with an acute sense when it comes to spotting trends and appreciating details, that the idea of mainstream horrifies them.
Knowing I was a fashionista and coming out of my closet to admit that I was one posed a problem. Growing up in a no-nonsense, frugal home, exhibiting my passion for fashion would make me an obvious target for ridicule. However, I feel I have an obligation to explain the essence of a fashionista, skinny jeans, breezy frocks, oversize bags, dirty linen and all.
The Fashion Foibles
Fashion is an addiction I struggled with, forcing me into suspicious if not bothering behavior: tearing receipts so my mom wouldn't know how much I spent for another pair of shoes, foregoing savings for cult jeans, risking a traffic violation while checking out a lola crossing Kamuning road because I was inspired by her Marc Jacobs meets Prada look, buying a watch just because my style icon Madonna wore one herself, and spending six months of accumulated summers in London during my teen years scouring the streets (read: Knightsbridge, Oxford Street, Bond Street), bumming in parks, going to museums, and watching people every day; rather than taking summer courses on finance at the University of London (LSE or LBS), as my dad had suggested, seriously believing that both activities were equally worthwhile.
Coming to Terms
Writing about this confession came at an opportune time. At best, this is my coming out letter, a published tell all of my fashion faux pas, an admission of a secret life. At the least, I have given my two cents worth on the fashionista phenomenon. This is not just about having the money to buy designer clothes, wearing what's hot or being in the fashion industry per se. As authors Dela Cruz and Robinovitz of The Fashionista Files puts it, it is acknowledging that fashion is a "form of art, self-expression, and a representation of more emotional roots". It is a serious field of study that Holly Brubach, a self-confessed Dedicated Follower of Fashion, likens fashion to architecture.
Simply put, a fashionista is not simply interested in clothes and trendy must-haves; she knows herself and wears clothes to express her history and individuality. Her passion extends to art, culture, and social issues and disproves the impression that her kind has cashmere for brains. A fashionista derives satisfaction in looking and feeling good, but knows that what matters most of all is who she is beyond the stylish clothes.