Jasmine Sundri is a graduate of New York University. She majored in Applied Psychology and minored in English. She is currently working as a research assistant doing work in education policy. In her spare time she enjoys writing poetry, reading, watching films, and exploring New York City with her friends. Currently applying to masters programs, she dreams of becoming a counseling psychologist and writing a novel one day.
During one Fourth of July party about two years ago, I took my friend Samantha [changed name] to my parent’s friend’s apartment party in Jersey City. The apartment overlooked the Hudson River and had a great view of the nine-o-clock fireworks. While it was still sunny and we had plenty of time to drink and mingle, something really interesting happened. A young, beautiful women approached the two of us, as if she was some fairy godmother, looked us both up and down, and after some small talk (we were psychology majors at the time, she studied business and fashion), she did something magical: she gave us some of her fashion advice. She told Sam, “Honey, you can’t wear all black everyday [she’s a true New Yorker] or too many dark colors for that matter. You’re so fair and your skin has tones of red, play that up a little!” Then she pointed to the pattern on my dress; it was judgment time. She told me, “There’s so much going on here! When people see you they’re looking at the pattern it’s consuming their attention. You want people to look at you not the pattern, right?” And as she floated away, we were left there trying to process what she had just said with our mouths hanging slightly open. As the two of us stood by the balcony and gazed out at the water sparkling in the hot summer sun, Sam turned to me and asked, “Do you think it’s true?”
To this day, I still think about her advice. But why? What is so important about this term, “fashion?” What does it really mean? I think she had some very important points, especially that fashion is how we choose to appear to others, but really, how are we actually being perceived? For example, let say, I’m wearing, like most of my New York City friends, all black. To New Yorkers I’m sure this means I’m sophisticated, but maybe others (especially to those in California) might perceive it as depression. Here’s another example, let’s say I only wore bright colors and my hair in pigtails because I liked to look youthful and vibrant. However, what if people just thought it was childish and even worse, perceived it as incompetence? All in all, what I learned that day is some of my own fairy godmother fashion magic: what you choose to wear needs to be a balance between your own unique style and being aware what you end up wearing is one way the outside world is perceiving you.
I would have to describe my own style as something like New York City boho chic but modified for the workplace environment. What I mean by New York City is definitely dark colors, bohemian because I love to romanticize about the past and add some sense of Ancient Egyptian (I was Cleopatra in a past life), Native American, and Aztec hopefully, without acculturating. I also realize I am always inspired (or obsessed) with art, literature, TV shows and films very easily and purchase things that remind me of these things. Take the vintage 60’s coat I just bought. The faux fur on the collar reminds me of Jon Snow’s coat in Game of Thrones but the style is very Mad Men too. Yay! You can have it all! But I have to keep in mind I’m mostly dressed for work, so I try to blend my creativity with competence and I hope it comes across as just that.
So here’s some food for thought: How would you describe your style? What do you think makes it unique? How do you think your fashion sense is perceived by others? How might this affect your relationships at home, at school and at work? And also, how are you perceiving others? Is their fashion sense affecting your perception of them? What about during first impressions?