Introvert in a Mini Skirt: How Fashion Can Be an Empowering Tool for Introverts
I’m a girly-girl in a leather jacket, a nerd in cool girl’s clothing, an awkward girl dressed confidently, a fairy wearing boots, and an introvert in a mini skirt. I could probably list more contradictory facets between my style and personality, but you probably get the point.
One of the things I love about being a woman is having within me a complex array of personality traits that can be expressed in so many ways simply through style. And when you’re an introvert like me, style can be a useful tool to help you say something about yourself when it’s hard to open up and show people those various facets of who you are.
You can think about personal style as a way to make sense of yourself. At least I certainly do. I’m going to level with you: there’s a big fat mess in my head pretty much at all times. I know I’m not alone here. Anxiety, self-consciousness, feelings of inadequacy, confusion about life and what you’re supposed to do with it… we’re all haunted by these little demons. For some of us these feelings are infrequent and totally manageable, for the rest of us they can be truly paralyzing.
Luckily, there are a multitude of ways to cope with these feelings we’re all plagued with. I have a whole bunch of coping mechanisms in my arsenal: a good TV binge session, listening to music, sitting down with an awesome sci-fi book, wandering around Hyrule in a Legend of Zelda game… We all have the things in our lives that just frankly make us feel good, feel like ourselves.
And for me, expressing my personal style on a daily basis is one of those coping mechanisms.
For introverts such as myself, fashion can be so much more than a visual, materialistic endeavor.
For us, it can be a means of communication. It can be a megaphone through which we can shout who we are. I rely on this means of communication heavily, which really comes in handy when I'm having one of those days where it's super hard to open up to people. For times where I can’t seem to stop from hiding behind my wall of introversion, at least I have my style choices chipping away holes in that wall, allowing people to see pieces of who I am.
Of course, fashion doesn't define anyone. If fashion doesn’t matter to you, there are plenty of other ways to be yourself and get your personality across. And to be honest, having the financial means allowing you to experiment with fashion is a privilege. Even a trip to Forever 21 isn’t in the realm of possibility for some.
But even if you’re not in the place to go out and spend money on clothing, I guarantee you already have things in your closet you can put together that will say something about you. Even a black pair of jeans with a white tee shirt says something.
While fashion may not define who you are, you certainly can use your personal style - however limited it may be - as a way to add punctuation to your personality. The outfit you choose for the day can act as an excited exclamation point to what you’re saying about yourself, a stern period that makes a clear statement, or an ellipsis that leaves the world wanting more.
Style is a tool I use to communicate things about myself without having to speak a word. and it really can be useful for an introvert like me who often doesn’t feel like speaking a word.
Even if you’re not an introvert, fashion can be empowering and life-enriching for women in general. In varying degrees, we women have an inherent fear of truly being ourselves. I suppose that can be said for the human race as a whole, but of course women live with a very specific brand of fear and very specific social consequences when we put ourselves out there in a way that isn’t well received, or is too well received.
The act of going out in mini skirt or short dress, for example, can mean inadvertently signing up for a slew of comments from strange men on the street, or worse. For high school girls, a mini skirt can mean punishment and embarrassment from the school’s administration, because apparently young girls are supposed to be held responsible for their male classmates’ (and disturbingly, their male teachers’) attention spans.
But fashion, despite its potential to be used against us, really can be a potent force of empowerment; a way not only to cope with our fears and insecurities, but also to say a big “fuck you” to them. A way to embrace who we are and how we want to feel about ourselves. A way to visually express what’s going on in our brains. And again, as an introvert, this kind of self expression is something I find incredibly useful.
For me personally, the act of donning a mini skirt (or anything that is true to me and my style), gives me a thrill, mainly because I just simply love the aesthetic and how it makes me feel, but also because of this sad state of society where women (still!) can be harshly judged for revealing too much of themselves, be it physically, emotionally, ideologically, etc. While on the other side of the spectrum, we’re also subject to criticism if we decorate ourselves too much, be it through clothing, accessories, or makeup (there are men who actually view makeup as an act of dishonesty and betrayal. Seriously.).
In this big lose-lose situation of being a woman just trying to get out of the house in the morning, dressing the way I want to dress feels like a tiny act of rebellion against a society that doesn’t want me to do so.
There’s simply something empowering about asserting who you are through a visual medium such as fashion.
And since fashion feels like a distinct, and even powerful way for me to express myself, it’s undoubtedly frustrating when it’s devalued and cast aside as superficial, vain, materialistic, and therefore meaningless. This BUST article, written in reaction to some comments made by Jim Carrey at New York Fashion Week 2017, really says it best:
As a woman and as an introvert, I really can’t say enough about how much fashion means to me. It’s a small way to have a voice in a world in which the voices of men and extroverts tend to be heard much more clearly, if not exclusively.
So the next time you’re looking through your closet trying to decide what to wear, first try to decide what you want to say.
What do you want to say about yourself today? Are you in a super good mood that calls for a happy floral dress? Are you pissed about something and feel like wearing all black? Are you happy about something and feel like wearing all black? ;-)
Of course, speaking through your style choices should never be in lieu of verbally speaking your mind when you actually want to.
At the end of the day, you and your thoughts and opinions are what matter, with or without fashion. But if you’re seeking another tool to add to your self-expression tool belt (hey, an actual tool belt would be an interesting fashion choice, wouldn’t it? I kind of want to see a girl walking down the street rocking a tool belt with a black maxi dress or something. Anyway, sorry for turning my perfectly fine metaphor into something literal. I digress…), I would seriously think about how you can use your wardrobe to assist you in saying what you want to say about yourself.
You may find that wearing that mini skirt you had buried in the back of your closet - the one you never wear because, even though you feel amazing in it, you’re afraid of what people will think (is it too short? Will it look like I’m trying too hard? Will I stand out too much?) - ends up making you feel empowered, defiant, or just simply pretty. While still practicing caution and using our best judgement given our specific circumstances, I’m a firm believer that we should embrace anything that makes us feel good and makes us feel like ourselves. Even if it’s something as simple as a mini skirt.
Wear your style. Shout your self!
Are there any introverts out there like me who feel like their personal style is helpful in breaking out of their shell? How does fashion empower you? Tell me in the comments!
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Hey there! I’m Steffi, creator of Moda Misfit - a lifestyle blog that aims to inspire you to embrace who you are and express your creative self through decor, fashion, & music. We're all Moda Misfits here!