The Meaning of Style: Floral high-low dress

Do you feel like the way you look defines you?

If you had asked me that in high school, the answer would have been an emphatic "yes." Wearing clothes that I felt matched my persona was very important to me.

On the other hand, this outfit is not really "me." The bright florals, the palette, the shape of the dress — it's more like wearing a costume. But, you know, I'm very much OK with that, because wearing costumes is fun.

I still feel passionate about the idea of clothing as a cultural signifier. I remember when, as a junior in high school, I tried to muddle my way through this book (drawn in, no doubt, by the punk rock cover art). I definitely did not grasp all of what Hebdige was saying, but what I did get out of it was revelatory. I suddenly understood why it had been so important for me to have a pair of Doc Martens in junior high; why I liked it when other kids called me "weird"; why I saved up my allowance to buy an overpriced, oversized Cure T-shirt from a gross head shop that smelled so strongly of nag champa incense that I could barely stand to wear it. It was because clothing gave me a way of telling people, "This is my tribe. This is where I belong."

But I digress. Because this outfit was not about social signifiers. It was kind of the opposite. It was about saying, "Let's see what I can do with this" — with something that doesn't feel known, or comfortable, or meaningful in any way. It was about a pretty, bright, floral dress (which I promptly took to the consignment store shortly after these photos were taken). And this has been one of the revelations of adulthood: that I don't have to rely on the cultural signifiers of dress/appearance to define me.

Instead, I can just have fun.

Cardigan: thrifted
Dress: thrifted
Necklace: thrifted
Shoes: Bag sale
Total cost to me: About $6


  1. So pretty! Love the print and the cute cardi tied over it! Thanks so much for being a part of Fun Fashion Friday! Have a fab weekend!
    Dawn Lucy


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