Get Inspired/ Personal Best
Kristin Booker • July 27, 2014

Personal Best: How to Stage Your Own Little Style Rebellion

Ever since I cried into this world, I’ve struggled with permission to just be myself, to do things my own way.

This is a photo of me, Christmas, 1977. I was 6 years old.

This is a photo of me, Christmas, 1977. I was 6 years old.

Kids show you who they are if you’re listening. I knew I wanted the things I wanted. I knew that I could spin a Big Wheel (we called it a “Rockford” back in the day after the signature move in The Rockford Files…look it up, chil’ren) as well as any of the boys in my neighborhood, but I wanted to play with Mom’s makeup. I had this idea in my head of being this model that wrote books and sang in a band on the side. I created my own little world as a little girl, filled with big ideas and a life that would be rife with possibilities.

Me with Dad and my grandfather in a pretty dress and tights. Acceptable. Don't I look thrilled?

Me with Dad and my grandfather in a pretty dress and tights. Acceptable. Don’t I look thrilled?

I grew up with very polarizing forces that helped shape the evolution of this character. While my mother positively relished letting me mix and match my own clothes and draw until my heart was content, my dad’s side of the family was very intent on me being the Perfect Little Girl. As they got divorced, it almost felt like I had to split myself in two just to keep the peace, where I would dress and act one way to make my father comfortable and then come home and be myself. Two sets of clothes, two personalities, a constant two-act play performed on two stages at least one a week.

This carried on even outside of going to college. The precedent it sets when you learn to be duplicitous in your dealings with people when you’re younger is that you believe that to be able to survive, you have to be who people want you to be. You develop a sense of hiding who you are to avoid the pain you know will come if you unleash your full expression. Feather boas or leather jackets are left for one set of friends and close ties, and there’s a uniform you put on to hold down the fort on those things that you think mean your very survival. For me, this meant that giving up an art degree for a business degree to appease my father’s stern warning that I needed “a degree I could eat on” meant shelving that part of myself for decades. I went into corporate America after graduation. I didn’t pick up a sketchpad for over two decades. I wore the suits, I observed people who ran around in grunge and rocker fashion with intense envy mixed with cool observation. That life is for other people, but never for me.

Except, compartmentalization only works for so long. You can only sweep yourself under the rug for so long until you start to trip over the part of you that is demanding expression. In fifteen years in corporate marketing and HR, there was always something about my outfit that was a little…off. I would come to work in suits, but I had a ring with a tiny skull on it. My earrings were always a centimeter longer than the dress code, I wore nude fishnets over my required pantyhose at work…something was always a little different, maybe a little dangerous. It wasn’t until 2007 that I realized that in all those years of moving around the country, trying to fit into a mold that quite frankly never, ever fit, that I was tired of denying who I really was. I’m a creative person. If I’m not creating, I am absolutely miserable. And so, I left that life behind and moved to New York.

Except…I hadn’t really.

This gorgeous photo is really awesome. Giafrese took a great photo. This look and pose aren't really "me."

This gorgeous photo is really awesome. Giafrese took a great photo. This look and pose aren’t really “me.”

What I’ve come to realize over the past few months of re-launching Fashion.Style.Beauty is that I still haven’t really let my own style come to the surface. I admit that I was doing what everyone else was doing, which is looking to other people who I considered to be more successful than me and sort of adopting things they did when it came to dressing or operating through life. There are some outfit photos that absolutely look like things I would love to wear, and others that look like things I think people would LIKE for me to wear. Decades later, I’m still splitting myself in two because I think my survival depends on it.

This photo, also shot by Giafrese, is also gorgeous and is ABSOLUTELY me. God, how I love this photo.

This photo, also shot by Giafrese, is also gorgeous and is ABSOLUTELY me. God, how I love this photo.

That stops now.

Let me be the first to say that I have no idea where I’m going to end up when this process is over. But over the past week, I started putting this whole no-apologies thing into practice. I’m telling people what I think, I’m purging my house of anything that feels like it’s “not me,” and I’m giving myself full permission to figure out my appetites. The content of this site is going to document this journey. Let’s see where it goes, because the first thing I’m doing that I’ve always wanted to do is change my hair color to something completely outrageous. The appointment’s being set, and I’m excited to see myself as I’ve always wanted to see myself.

I’m staging my own little rebellion. Come with me: I can promise it won’t be boring.

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5 Responses to Personal Best: How to Stage Your Own Little Style Rebellion

  1. Sili says:

    And so it begins! Yasss, yasss, and dammit YASSSS! Let it out, let it go, girl. These past few weeks I have realized that we, as women, apologize too much and I am making a concerted effort to stop (and to stop my girl from doing it as well).

    You say it so succinctly here! And you know what? You are not the only one. I see people going through life with a light inside of them that they have set to dim when they ain’t got no business being nothin’ but incandescent!

    I cannot wait to follow you on this journey and see all the wonderful that you still have inside of you. These are all sides of you, though. But I think as you let the “you” that’s been bottled up inside, you’ll learn to fit the “other” right along because that’s you too.

    oxoxox

  2. This is an amazing post. I am still trying to find my fashion comfort zone. It is a never ending journey. Well done!! xoxo

  3. Diana says:

    Hello my long lost friend! I, too, have been staging my own rebellion. I have two tone purple red/black hair. I wear the kind of jewelry I like that’s just a little to the left of professional. I wear black fingernail polish. It feels terrific. Trying to get the rest of me in line with who I am, too. Though, that’s taking a bit longer.

  4. […] few days ago, Kristin posted this piece about staging her own personal style rebellion, and I had all kinds of “right on!” […]

  5. Brittney says:

    This couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m going into law school, and I’ve been thinking on how I can reconcile my colorful style while in a corporate world. I guess I will have to find a compromise, but definitely stay true to myself. For the record, I like the last photo of you much better as well 🙂

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