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Do Social Norms Determine What You Wear?

13/02/2017 17:41 | Updated 14 February 2017

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I recently mentioned on  my Instagram this exact question after finding myself not wearing certain items of my wardrobe.

My contemplation started like this:

"Do you ever feel like you can't wear something because it's not common practice in your social environment?

I was beginning to feel that way with this faux leather skirt. I live in a small Welsh countryside town where the majority wear jeans each day and that is very much the norm and generally the done thing.

So I started to put off wearing it in fear of standing out.

Why? Who knows. I labelled it as too fancy for day wear.

But guess what, I wore it today and nobody cared, nobody stared and I loved wearing it once again.

Strange how small town mentality can get in to your head sometimes and you end up putting your own barriers needlessly in the way.

Wear the skirt/dress/leather trousers. Do what makes you happy."

So here's the long of it:

I live in amongst a cluster of little towns in the Welsh valleys. It's a small town surrounded by rolling hills and farms, which is fairly ubiquitous here in the UK. It's quite common to be stuck behind a tractor and see multiple people out and about in jodhpurs and muddy boots, dog walkers dressed up in their warmest wears and funny hats, this is just general town-country life.

But here's the thing. There is very much a 'social norm' when it comes to dressing around these parts.

When you're out and about the general consensus is usually jeans (skinny, bootcut, straight), body warmers or coats and sensible shoes.

Because of this, I find myself dressing down more to fit in to this 'social norm' not wanting to step outside of the non-trend and wear what I actually want to wear.

I seem to have created an invisible line of constriction that I'm unprepared to cross.

And yet it's nobody's doing but me.

In my mind I have curated lists of commonly acceptable outfits that goes a little something like:
Skinny jeans and sweater = OK
Faux Leather for day wear = NO CHANCE
Sensible walking boots= Yes to the norm
OTK boots = What are you thinking?

...You get the idea

I do this to fit in and blend in, in fear of standing out, but really what does it matter? I don't know most of the people I see each day. We are merely passers by in each others life, without a second thought to one another afterwards. Judgement, if passed, is fleeting and really, why should I care?

So why do I restrict myself?

It comes down to the need of approval and security.

But when I really got to thinking about it, the only person it effects is myself, right? So why rely on complete strangers approval to vindicate myself?

Dressing each day is my creative outlet, I can't paint or draw, dressing in what I want is part of who I am and my way of expressing myself creatively. My outfit can be a reflection of my personality or what my current mood is. My style represents me and nobody else, it's as individual as my fingerprint, yes it may be influenced or I may have been inspired, but ultimately it is my manifestation.

So wear the damn skirt, rock the OTK boots and wear that red fluffy coat if that is what you want.

If it makes you happy... wear it.

Turns I'm not alone in thinking this. Lots of us feel this way, especially those who don't live in cities where the general consensus is more open to a variety of styles.

Here's some views from my original post on Instagram

tjvalentine:
Couldn't agree with you more. I live in a small Cornish village and the dress code is casual to say the least, I feel a bit radical even with a heel let alone leather below the waist but it does the soul good to wear what you like when you like. Enjoy. You always look gorgeous xxx

anothertallstory:
Hallelujah I hear you sister, living in Weston Super Mare I feel the same about my faux leather mini and keep for nights out and skirts for work but too long have these beauties lingered in the wardrobe, break them out I say

ankh35b:
Hear, hear. My resolution this year is to wear whatever I have in my wardrobe especially as I still have lots of clothes with labels on, but this year I am determined no matter what the occasion to wear them all

I think it does the soul good to 'step outside of the box' and reminding yourself its ok to not blend in.

It's OK to be a peacock and show those brightly coloured beautiful feathers in all of their majestic glory, whether that be with leather skirts, silver shoes or a bright red furry coat.

Wear what you want. 

Dress in what you love.

After all, as the old saying goes, life isn't a dress rehearsal!

Come join the conversation on Rachel The Hat

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