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Goeun Park: This girl’s got style, but not fashion

One of my favorite shirts is a gray V-neck I snatched up from a clearance bin in Target.

It’s a size too large and meant for sleep, but it goes well with nearly everything I own so I wear it out often. I also coordinate my outfits between four pairs of shoes, even though Stacy and Clinton from TLC’s “What Not To Wear” said matching shoes and top were unnecessary.

It is unnecessary, but then, so is ranch dressing. No one needs ranch dressing. Not everyone even likes ranch dressing. I just find it a really nice thing to have on my salad.

Likewise, I think having a sense of style is nice. More than nice — I think it’s an art. There, I’ve said it. Call me shallow or superficial, but I had mad respect for women who choose to wear dark purple lipstick at two in the afternoon.

That’s not to say I disapprove of women who don’t, but I think those who do deserve my acknowledgment and appreciation.

Personally, style and fashion are two very different things. I perceive style as something distinct and subjective and easy. Fashion, on the other hand, is catalogues and runways.

My roommate once told me that I had a lot of style and zero fashion. I think it’s true — I clash brown and black, wear ugly, shapeless dresses bought from Goodwill and carry the same purse I had since 8th grade.

I have trademarked my style with old-lady cardigans and ugly sweaters. I wear stripes and denim and sequins, sometimes all at once. I’m basically a fashionista’s nightmare.

But that’s my style.

I think my current relationship with clothes was changed drastically in college. For one, I started to care. I started to dress to impress (in my own, special way). I won’t lie: it’s a conscious effort. But it’s also a fun routine.

To disclaim, I don’t take style seriously because of societal expectations or patriarchy or beauty magazines — I do it because I love having a look that reflects my mood. I love dressing like “me.” I believe that what I wear and how I carry myself makes a statement, and I want my presence to say something positive.

I used to hear a lot of guys say that they didn’t care for girls who wore make-up or wore pretty things every day. As someone who never wore dresses and didn’t know how to apply eye liner until last month, comments like that used to make me feel better. Superior. I used to think I was above all those petty girls who wasted time in front of the mirror.

But now that I’m one of the girls who likes to play with gaudy earrings and high heels, I can see how anti-feminist and fundamentally wrong my attitude was. If my appearance pleases people, that’s great. If it peeves someone, that’s fine. It doesn’t matter what other people think about what I wear because I want to wear pretty or grungy outfits for myself.

To me, that’s what style is about: dressing nicely for you. It’s being mindful of being how classy and charming you are, inside and out. 

Goeun Park graduated from Detroit Lakes High School and attends college in California.