I was the child with bows in her hair, huge heart-shaped sunglasses and adorable denim jumpers. I love fashion shows, blogs brimming with cool photos of fashion’s elite and magazines showcasing the latest and greatest.
But there’s also something that I can’t ever really attach to… the idea of “fashion.” I’ve never related to that in the strictest sense of the word. It’s a cold term. It’s a lifeless term.
On the other hand, “style” is something I can embrace and that was clearer than ever when I came across The What’s Underneath Project. The mission? To honor how “style is not the clothes you wear, but comfort in your own skin. It’s not a facade. It is your spirit.”
Participants are asked to remove an article of clothing with each question they answer. The questions range from, “When do you feel most beautiful?” to “How do you describe your style?” and the answers end up revealing more about each person’s inner beauty than anything they wear.
There’s Aglae, who has worked through bullying and eating disorders to make it as a model and recalls that while modeling may have caused her eating disorder, it also saved her from it.
Jillian, who celebrates her uniqueness and has fought muscular dystrophy since birth, says, “If you’re different, that’s sunlight in somebody’s world.”
Elisa, whose unconventional way of dress only hints at her rare experiences, and her appreciation of life after nearly dying when she was struck by a Porsche 10 years back.
These are brave souls, not just because they were willing to strip down to their undergarments in front of a camera, but because of the stories they simultaneously share — and all of them have an amazing, intuitive sense of personal style. It doesn’t exude from their clothes, per se, but from the way they wear them.
So as you ready yourself for fall, and see all sorts of “fashion” around you, I hope you’ll curate a style that really says something about who you are underneath. You get to project who you are, and I hope you’ll use that power — because, in the words of Rachel Zoe, “Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”