by Natalie Berry

I’m the girl who wore a cropped, tweed blazer on the first day of fifth grade. Just to clarify, this was my first day of school in a town where I was the new kid. Did I also mention that this fashion choice didn’t score me any brownie points with the cool kids? Yeah, I’m sure you can imagine.

That defining moment set the tone for the rest of my 20-plus years. I aim to always be unabashedly myself, even in the face of adversity – and that self just so happens to usually be overdressed.

If you’ve ever known me in any capacity, you probably know that I dress inappropriately to almost everything. By inappropriately I don’t mean flip-flops to a funeral; I mean heeled oxfords to high school or red wool berets to parties. That kind of inappropriate. This trait is most obvious when it comes to the way I dress for class.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve had a classmate or teacher remark about what I’m wearing, sometimes admiringly, other times critically. All in all, people are primarily intrigued. Why do I choose this life over one of comfort and simplicity and more snooze time in the mornings?

To be honest, it’s hard to explain to people who don’t innately have that draw to fashion as an art and a form of creative expression, like I do. It has nothing to do with insecurity – you’ll often see me with very little makeup and undone hair, for example – and everything to do with personal fulfillment and identity.

I get a natural high when I pair patterns in unexpected ways. I reach my flow state when I’m planning my outfits for the week. I generally have a better day when I’m wearing an inspired, unique outfit. And, as I’ve told people several times, my life simply feels more put-together when my outfit is on-point. I’m sure many creators can relate to this in some way.

So, if I feel this way, why don’t I just dress up on weekends and wear comfy clothes the rest of the time? That seems like a more practical way to live out my passion, yes. But anyone who’s truly passionate about something knows that you can’t live out that passion half of the time. If you really want to create, experience, immerse and improve, you take every chance you get. For me, that includes class time.

I’ll admit, there are other side effects of dressing up that keep me motivated, even on those days when I’m running late and just want to be comfy. Firstly, my attitude and confidence are vastly improved when I feel great in my clothes. On the days where I have a bomb outfit, I’ll walk through campus listening to the “Have a Great Day!” playlist on Spotify (seriously recommend, if you’re a Spotify user!) and feel like I can conquer anything. Secondly, after years of maintaining this brand image, if you will, I can’t risk rebranding. I’ve become known as “that girl who never wears t-shirts” and, at this point, I’d be horrified to go back on that. I’m prepared for that title to follow me for the rest of my life.

It is too easy to let the stressors and judgements of the world impact your pursuit of the things that feed your soul. But, honestly, what is life without creative fulfillment? Even if fashion totally isn’t your thing and you can’t relate to my views, something is your thing. Find that thing. Pursue that thing. Do that thing, even if it means your fellow fifth-graders make fun of you on the first day of school.

P.S. – Check out the photos I’m including of real outfits I’ve worn to class recently or plan to wear to class in the near future.


Natalie Berry is a third year Advertising major from Cypress, Texas. This is her second semester with Spark, but her first semester being a dedicated blog writer.

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