Last week I went to Alt Summit, a fancy-pants conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, created to educate, inspire and connect both novice and professional bloggers alike. I'm a Vermont girl that doesn't get out of town much, but when I do, I'm more of campground, youth hostel, budget motel, developing country, chicken-bus-rider kind of traveler. So to even walk into the Grand American hotel was... WHOA. Awesome.
I'm still in processing mode post Alt, and suspect I will be for weeks and months to come. Big events like this, with gaggles of women, always brings up lots of "stuff" for me. I like to think about all of my awkward "I carried a watermelon" moments, winks and guffaws, and reflect back as to why I did what I did, said what I said, and felt what I felt. I find that big events like this, coupled with some serious introspection, are akin to several years of intensive therapy.
One of the MANY things I've reflected on post Alt is FASHION. The pre-Alt-fashion-hype was intense, and although I was a wee bit intimidated, I packed up my best (99% thrifted) threads and dressed my essence and my intentions every single day (except on Wednesday night when it was soo cold out I had to wear my airplane clothes out to dinner instead of my hot-pink strappy dress, but I digress). As I met with folks, I heard a lot of, "OMG I almost didn't come to Alt because I didn't know what to wear!" and "I love your dress. I didn't know what to pack. Don't mind my shoes." And hearing those self defeating, apologetic words hurt my heart. Every. Single. Time. And in those moments I thought to myself - FASHION HAS NO PLACE AT ALT.
Don't worry. These are not fighting words. I love smooth legs, pedicures, hot red lipstick and fancy dresses just as much as the next girl. What I mean is this. Fashion is something that happens OUTSIDE of us. It's a bench mark that we use for comparison. Me versus them. It's what the mannequins and models are wearing in billboards, magazines and television ads. It's what's hot. If you pay attention to what's out there, you can do nothing more than mimic what you see.
But Style. Style is something that happens INSIDE of us. It is how we USE fashion to reflect our souls. It brings the focus back to us. It's about WHO WE ARE and how we want to be perceived. It's how we smile, laugh, engage, love, reflect, and experience our world. It's our soul and our intentions and our values all wrapped up into one happy package. You can't mimic style, no matter how hard you pay attention to what's happening "out there". Mimicking doesn't work because she is she and you are you and you are not she and she is not you. Only you are you. And you have to determine which colors, cuts, textures, stones, fabrics, labels (etc.) reflect who you are and who you wish to become. It's what I call INSIDE-OUT CONGRUENCY, and it's absolutely totally achievable, no matter who you are.
When you are one among a sea of women, trying to make split second, kick-ass first impressions and connections, you must be on top of your game. I don't know about you, but if I'm wearing something that makes me feel homely or frumpy, saggy or baggy, then there's a real good chance I won't be showing you my best most truest and brilliant self. I'll be self conscious. Apologetic. And perhaps even withdrawn. But put me in something that reflects my soul, and it's a game-changer.
Next summer, when Alt rolls around again, I don't want there to be a single woman worrying about what they are going to wear, in comparison to everyone else. I've got some ideas that need to be flushed out... I'm think pre-Alt smash-the-fashion webinar or e-course! Ohhh, I've got ideas.
To your VIBRANCY!!
PS. Photo credit goes to Alt Photographers Justin Hackworth + Brooke Dennis.