Sunday Night Thoughts: Puzzles and Style

by Ryan Benson

For the entirety of my love affair with the glorious art of clothing, which is to say most of my life, I've examined the difference between fashion and style. Magazines, Instagram posts, my grandmother, models, sales ladies, amigas and more have beaten the concept that fashion is broad-reaching, impersonal, and seasonal and style is individualistic and timeless into my head. Style, they say, is a form of self expression, thus unique to every gal/guy/earthling because, well, every guy/gal/earthling is unique. Brief interlude: hoorah for uniqueness. Uniqueness is the stuff. Outerlude: I totally agree with this. Style is, indeed, unique to every human. But the misconception that all-too-often accompanies the idea of style being unique is style being consistent. Like, if you wear a grungy t-shirt and faded black jeans one day you can't wear a girly-fru-fru dress the next and claim you have a defined style. Well, I OBJECT. I espesh object if you're in high school. High school, my friends, is all about discovering who you are and who you want to be. Wait… do I sound like a middle-aged guidance counselor? Ew. But seriously. A young person's style should not be consistent. 

Teenagers have a colorful array of personalities, of parts, of feelings, of pieces. We have parts that are ambitious and focused, parts that are crafty, parts that are outspoken, parts that are phunkyphresh, parts that feel like gardening, parts that love intellectual conversations with dads, parts that hate gardening, parts that just wanna cry, parts that like being alone, parts that are ready to party (raise the roof, raise the roof), the list goes on! In fact, we have so many parts that some of them are not even officially our own parts, but rather parts we try on for a day to see whether we like them or not--to see whether they fit. I mean, that's what being in high school is all about, amiright? Trying on parts and discovering which dazzling pieces fit into the grand puzzle of you. In trying on all these parts one becomes a wildly inconsistent being, surprising everyone, but mostly her parents, with what persona or attitude she'll be sporting that day. This puzzle-making process can be, well, puzzling at times, but mostly it's fun and exciting and dangerous in a scrumptious kinda way. 

In fact, trying on all these potential-parts-o-you via clothes is the most scrumptious part of the whole shebang. My outfits change drastically day-to-day. My wardrobe is wildly inconsistent. I'm grungy and tired one day and spunky and up-beat the next and my clothing communicates this. Of course, there are common threads (pun intended… wow do I kill the pun game or what) that run throughout my wardrobe, just like there are common threads of me that are stitched into each of my attitudes. My inconsistent style reflects my inconsistent self and for this I love the art of clothing.  

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