Finding an Aesthetic
For some time, I have been perplexed by the idea of an “aesthetic,” and its relation to clothing. All summer I asked myself and my friends: “do I have an aesthetic?” My friends tried to be kind, but I knew the answer was no. I shelved the mystery of how and why I did not have an aesthetic, but it recently came back to haunt me.
It all started when I began binge-watching Scream Queens, a comedy, horror television show starring vicious sorority girls. Anyone familiar with the show knows how enviable the wardrobes of “The Chanels” are. Though I found the show’s casual use of racism (which is supposed to be true to white Greek culture,) to be off-putting, I was mesmerized by the clothes. The Chanels’ wardrobe of mini-skirts, fur coats and vests, stilettos and stockings, combined with flawless hair and makeup, created the quintessential aesthetic of the rich, white, sorority girl.
As I powered through episode-after-episode of Scream Queens, it dawned on me that my sense of style had really taken a hit over the years. Somewhere between school, work and my prioritized obsession with expensive beauty products, I had failed to create a curated wardrobe. Creating a “look” is an artistic experience. Having an aesthetic goes beyond the realm of apparel, it is comprised of meticulously chosen hair, makeup, clothing and accessories. With this realization, I recognized I had a lot of work to do.
At first I tried to find my aesthetic by looking to outside sources for inspiration. Even though I admired the style of “The Chanels” and various supermodels, I knew that I would soon grow tired of trying to emulate a style that wasn’t true to me. So, I did some self-evaluation. Generally, I like to dress pretty casually and go light on the makeup. I like breezy clothes that flatter my form and make me feel comfortable. After taking these things into account, I had an epiphany. My “official” aesthetic is that of a “beach girl.”
To create my own version of the beachy girl, I broke down and created looks for my hair, makeup,and clothing, that would come together to create the perfect aesthetic.
Natural, of course! For me that means afros, twist outs, braids out and the occasional braided style (think Zoe Kravitz). It also means staying far away from heat styling tools and hair dye because hair damage doesn’t compliment the beach girl look.
The Glossier girl: For anyone not familiar with the Glossier aesthetic, the beauty brand basically emphasizes using makeup as a way to highlight natural beauty instead of masking it. My basic routine of under eye concealer, spot concealer, mascara and the occasional eyeliner already fits with the Glossier look, but recently I’ve added Glossier’s boy brow to my routine, which gives my eyebrows extra oomph.
This is the apex of the aesthetic, and it’s something I must start paying more attention to. If I’m being honest, my style has entered the land of “basic bitch” in the past couple of years. Limited time combined with an emphasis on shopping for the basics hasn’t really worked out in my favor. At first, looking at my wardrobe yielded minimal inspiration, but then “beach girl” entered my head and everything made sense. Instead of a simple jean, t-shirt, sneaker combination (which I’m wearing as I type this), I could spring for a flowy dress paired with a cute pair of boots, sandals or ballet flats (my ensemble for a concert tonight). Also, since spring/summer is around the corner, I’ll be on the lookout for shorts, skirts, rompers and breezy button downs.
In addition to shopping for different clothing items, I am making accessorizing a priority. Since losing most of my costume jewelry on a flight back from London (RIP), I have taken little time to invest in this essential. However, now I see that this was a fatal wardrobe mistake. The right accessories can take an outfit from “basic bitch” to “fashion hoe,” and I’m now aiming for the latter. Of course wardrobe changes don’t happen overnight, so I’m making it a priority to shop for pieces that fit into my new aesthetic whenever I have extra time and money. In fact, the dress I’m wearing tonight was recently purchased on a whim. And, as much as I hate shopping, I have found joy in shopping by aiming for pieces that fit inside my new aesthetic.
Though daunting at first, creating an aesthetic has helped me find a direction for my wardrobe. Being able to discover a look that easily fits into my lifestyle makes me feel like I have the potential to actually be stylish. It’s easy to brush off appearance as something trivial and time consuming, but strutting out of my house knowing I look good is worth the effort. Laziness or lack of time aren’t excuses for me anymore because now I have an aesthetic as a guideline.