Written by: Danielle Clayton

Writing a story, painting a picture, designing a garment, creating social media content. There are no limits the imagination can reach with any artistic idea. The only real limitation is the fear of the concept not being perfect. Perfectionism has halted the innovation process throughout history. Someone has an idea, their excited about it, plan to execute, begin, then fear sets in. Self-doubt begins to build up to the point giving up is almost impossible to ignore. Your lines don’t look straight, the fabric doesn’t fit the theme of the collection, the character description is missing crucial elements. The criticism begins to snowball out of control. In some cases, the fear of your project not being perfect is fine. The process continues until it’s finished and your able to step back and take gratitude in your work. That setback was a limitation obstacle overcome by desire, passion, consistency and determination. The relationship between fashion and art, is an example of the extreme heights that can be reached when no limitation is addressed.

The conversation on “What is Art?” and “What self-expression really looks like?” in the fashion and art industry is non-stop. With opposing viewpoints driving the conversation up and downhill depending on your stance, the actual answer hasn’t changed. The answer being everyone has their idea of what is and what isn’t and the curiosity of both is what keeps the conversations hot. People will always have a natural curiosity, for the known, the unknown, the explainable and the unimaginable. When it comes to creativity there is no restriction on the levels attained during sheer focus. Self-expression on the other hand seems to be restraint much more than the definition describes.

Self-expression is defined as the expression of one feelings, thoughts, or ideas. With just this information, and a glimpse into the dialogue surrounding the fashion industry, it should be safe to say that though a large percentage of garments are made for functionality, there is a percentage made specifically for pure self-expression. Expressing oneself can be done in many forms such as writing, art, music or dance. Isn’t it also fair to say that combining such forms is an even greater expression of oneself? So great in fact, that the idea of using more than one form of self-expression can cause societal controversy?

Speaking on fashion garments made for functionality, I have noticed that creativity has taken over. Unfortunately, the disagreements with such are worth mentioning. How can there be a limit on how someone chooses to dress? Based on the conversations I have read, some say that no one can tell you what to wear i.e., how to express yourself. Others, however, have taken to explaining such restrictions based on the perceptions of others i.e., how what someone is wearing makes them look, and what actions they take based on such perceptions.


Let me be clear that determining the actions of someone else based on how they dress is completely unnecessary. I will agree that in certain situations there should be an appropriate dress code. I will not agree that the way someone dresses is an excuse to disrespect, violate, or abuse anyone at any time. The problem there isn’t what the person is wearing but that of the person looking. Self-expression in fashion should not be biased towards a specific garment or scenario. Nor should it be used as a way to guilt trip someone into wearing what you deem appropriate. Everyone is different, everyone is unique, everyone has a diverse style. Respect the creativity of others and allow them to be free of discomfort by communicating a part of themselves.

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