I am so honored to have been asked by Allison to share my story. I have known Allison since I was a junior at the University of Kansas. She was working as a graduate assistant in the University Advising Center where I was a peer advisor and student assistant. I’m not quite sure how our friendship developed, but our hour-long chats in Allison’s cubicle became a cornerstone of my experience at KU.
I was very surprised to be asked to contribute to #MyStoryIsBeautiful. I’ve never considered myself a particularly stylish individual, opting for clothes that fit rather than for clothes that were necessarily fashionable. But as I considered what I would wear and what I would write about, I realized that my personal style has really evolved as I have moved into some vastly different stations of life.
I’ve always been a little self-conscious about my size. Growing up, I always was the biggest and the tallest. I was (and still am) constantly asked if I play football or if I was a wrestler and am always met with shock and surprise when I let them know that I grew up playing tennis.
Even when I found myself able to accept my height or my size, the other would make things more difficult. In general, I never worried about my style because I was more concerned with finding the clothes that would fit. It was incredibly difficult to find clothing that was both big enough and long enough to fit my body, so finding one that would do so meant an automatic purchase irrespective of how it really looked.
It took until graduate school before I became unwilling to buy clothes based on their convenience. I was tired of buying clothes because they fit rather than because I liked how they looked. Instead, I went shopping for clothes that reflected my personality (or at least the personality I wanted to display).
The more I wore clothes that made me feel good, the more I found my anxieties in other arenas becoming less and less important. If I was wearing clothes that made me feel good and made me comfortable, I was much more confident in general.
While in grad school, a mentor of mine introduced me to his Bowtie Thursdays. After some hilarious attempts at tying my own tie, I found a real love for bowties. I loved the different look and the way they intentionally contrast with an outfit.
Your bowtie doesn’t have to be an exact match with your outfit, like a standard necktie might. It can clash in a way that makes an outfit more interesting without making it aesthetically displeasing. A bowtie can carry a pattern far more interesting than a necktie without being cheesy and can pull together a look in many more ways than a necktie ever could.
My love for bow ties goes a little deeper, but I’d rather not bore anyone with a discussion on their disruption of the hegemonic masculinity and using them as a way to claim my own personal brand of masculinity. But there is something very empowering about using your clothing in this way.
My Style in Three Words
Bold, easy, casual.
Claiming my personal style came with claiming my identities. Just as much as I had to accept my body and learn to love it, I had to learn to love myself completely. Once I was able to stop hiding parts of myself, I suddenly felt so much more comfortable wearing what I wanted, when I wanted.
And what I wanted was bold, sometimes bright colors on easy, casual shirts paired with casual chinos or a pair of great jeans pulled together with a bow tie. I no longer felt the need to hide in my clothes. Instead, my clothes are able to display who I am.
My sleeves are always rolled up, my shoes are almost always TOMS or something similarly casual, and I love a nice button-down collar. It’s clean, it’s a little ruffled, and it’s easy.
That’s what makes me feel good in my own skin. My style is never too dressy because my average day could find me making gallons of hot popcorn, leading a full-scale move, or building a small stage. My style is never too stuffy because I want my clothes to speak to my approachability. My style is never too well-matched because what fun is that?
We can use our clothing to hide ourselves or we can intentionally choose outfits that represent who we are. As my style has evolved, it has begun to reflect who I really am. I will never go back to using clothes to hide.
So, this is Adam and he is beautiful.
Want to share your story on My Story is Beautiful? Everyone has a story and all of them are beautiful. If you’d like to contribute to the community please email me at allison.ramsing (at) gmail (dot) com.