Charlotte Stephens is a writer, teacher, and traveler who is currently residing in Austin, TX. There, she teaches high school English and enjoys combining her passion for great food, good friends, and adventure into something that could be referred to as a life. She is currently working on her first novel, as well as a short book of poetry. Like most Austinites, she juices her veggies and makes it a point to practice some form of dance and yoga.
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve had quite an eclectic sense of style. As an artist, dancer, explorer, and athlete, I put the same amount of care and energy into my clothing choices as I did into the rest of my life. Since the days of wearing sparkly tutus, circus pants, and red sparkly shoes a là Dorothy, I’ve experienced so much, and that has been the single greatest contribution to my sense of style. Traveling, especially in Europe, has given me a unique perspective on how and why people dress the way that they do. Most of all, it has taught me just how many ways there are to wear the many sides of myself! Reading books and listening to music gave me a sense of identity growing up, and I took many chances with the outfits that I put together. Experimenting with styles like punk, gothic, romance, and bohemian when I was younger was just the beginning of finding the personal style that I believe I have today, which I see as sort of an intuitive mixture of all of those elements. Seeing those styles come to life in the places where they originated and where they are still being taken to new levels, however, definitely took my experimentation with them to a whole new level.
Now, I see clothing as an extension of the person wearing it, not a preapproved identity like the ones I wore as I was navigating the cruel worlds of middle school and high school. In college, I had the unique experience of witnessing a coming together of all different ethnicities, from all over the world and from all walks of life. Rich textures, beautiful embroidery, and unique patterns are treasures that make me feel special when I wear them, paired perhaps with a faded pair of cowboy boots, or a jacket that screamed ‘70s rock & roll, but also looks good with paisley or a nice floral pattern. A polka dot dress and sky high platform heels take me back to the classic-fitting clothing and classy broads of the 1950s. But statement pieces like the beautiful Turkish silver necklace brought over from the Silk Road that I recently purchased from a friend are what I truly live for. Everyone needs something to add some mystery to their look, something that makes them feel like a genuine emperor or empress.
The most important piece of advice that I could give a college student in today’s multicultural world would be to take advantage of the beauty and the diversity that can be found there. Most of all, take advantage of the opportunity to travel and to experience fashion from every small corner of the world. From the city of Valencia, where I lived in Spain during my study abroad program in college, to the city of Amsterdam, where I spent a romantic and ethereal ten days cruising the canals and sampling the local fare (mostly cheese and beer), the expression of personal fashion and the quirky charm of the locals was evident. That is why today I would call my own personal sense of style gypsy nomad. I guess somewhere along the way, I learned the value of snatching up something that speaks to your soul, like the wideleg pants worn by hippies in Europe, or the white leather boots that made me feel like Sailor Moon once upon a time. In the end, it’s not about having the next big item that’s being marketed to you, but how you dress up those special finds to grace the best hanger you’ll ever have: you.