I first realised I’d given myself fashion freedom when I purchased a royal blue bodycon dress from River Island. I remember trying it on in the fitting room, twirling in front of the mirror and thinking to myself ‘this dress doesn’t go with black tights, therefore if I purchase, its nude tights or nothing’. The thought of leaving my house the following Saturday evening without my safety net black tights made feel nervous as a single thought, but I was tired of having a wardrobe that revolved around covering my skin and knew that the next phase for me was getting comfortable and putting myself a little outside my comfort zone….
I’ll be honest, I felt slightly uncomfortable. For me, nude tights was a new thing. In my paranoid little mind, as I admired myself in front of the full length mirror in the blue dress I ended up purchasing, the white patches on my legs were totally obvious. Forget the fact I was an inch from the mirror, my bedroom lights were brightly beaming and I was fully aware of what my skin looked like underneath the tights. I even had a layer of fake tan on my legs as an added precaution, but still my white patches were showing up through my tights….or so I thought.
Despite the discomfort, I felt free. I was wearing a dress that that made me feel amazing. It sat comfortably on my knee, was fitted to reveal my petit frame and had some subtle cut outs around the waist just to add a little sexiness. I felt great….
Rewind time back to my twenties, and my focus when it came to fashion, was to buy anything that disguised my skin. I had endless pairs of skinny jeans, skirts in dark colours that went well with black tights and tops that had long sleeves. I admired the fashion pages in Stylist, Vogue and Elle, but daren’t buy anything that they considered to be on trend, especially if it was revealing. My style was very defined, I wore what I liked and very rarely ventured away from what made me feel comfortable.
As I entered my thirties, my shopping habits completely changed. I started to focus on the pieces I liked and gave little consideration to how much skin it would cover! Vitiligo took a ‘back seat’ as I started to own my style…here are the lessons I learnt that changed my wardrobe for the better…
Lesson 1: Don’t dress to blend in.
I was the ultimate blend in the background chic! I loved nothing more than owning a wardrobe that allowed me to camouflage myself against the crowd because I didn’t want to attract attention or be the one that didn’t get the ‘dress code’ memo. To avoid any hiccups, I’d downplay my choice of outfit. Now, I love experimenting with trends and creatively putting items together that reflect who I am and allow me to freely express myself. Of course, I still consider the setting when im getting ready, but I’m definitely more flexible and give more consideration to what I want to wear rather than what I ‘should’ wear.
Lesson 2: Embrace being unique
So… my unique quality is that I have vitiligo, but to me, it wasn’t unique…it was a nuisance. I wanted to keep it a hidden secret, which meant my style was based around keeping it covered.
My uniform was very much skinny jeans, high necklines, jumpers, shirts with long sleeves and blazers to take my look from day to night. For me, it saved me from stares and if I’m honest…upped my chances of chatting to a guy without having to explain why my arms were partly white and partly mixed. When I decided that I wanted to give myself wardrobe freedom I knew that would also mean changing my mind-set and with that, learning to embrace my skin, because a lot of what I wanted to wear meant revealing my skin.
Now I love asymmetric tops, bardot tops, cap sleeves and anything strapless. I’ve learnt to wear my clothes, my clothes don’t wear me. I don’t hide behind items that cover me up and when I’m out and ready to whip off my blazer to reveal a lace corset body, I do it with confidence! Part of allowing myself to wear such items was knowing that it was okay to show my skin and now, I can honestly say I don’t even notice people staring because im too busy feeling excited about what I’m wearing. I think sometimes we are so fixated on people looking at us, that we forget to be present. Now im present in every situation and give those around me who aren’t important, no amount of thinking time.
Lesson 3: Be Confident
There is nothing worse than wearing something that just isn’t you. Something you brought because the price had been slashed or just because it was an on ‘trend piece’. Wear clothes that excite you, suit you and reflect your personality….and do so with confidence! There is one key thing that I learnt; wearing clothes outside of your comfort zone isn’t about your personal style, it’s about your confidence levels.
I recall times when I would force myself to wear a t-shirt in the summer. I was never very comfortable because as soon as I showed my arms, I automatically felt vulnerable and anxious. If you’re not ready to wear shorts in the summer or a t-shirt, then don’t. You’ll be ready in your own time and when you are, you honestly wont give your skin a second thought…
Lesson 4: Makeup
I’m not heavily into makeup but always admire when a girl has done a great job with hers! I use very simple products – a good quality foundation, eye pencil, a rosy blusher and a good highlighter for my cheekbones. However, when im feeling to make a little more effort, I often like to contour or use eye shadows that match what I’m wearing. Makeup doesn’t have to be fussy to be effective; sometimes a good lipstick or bringing some focus to your eyes can really complete an outfit…