The Universe in My Eyes

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Article disclaimer: This is all based on personal experience and is in no way expecting fashion to magically cure mental illnesses.

I was going to do another autumn outfit but then I decided that this was more fun! And everything is better when it’s fun!

I have never been one who wanted to sit at the back being quiet, despite being incredibly shy. I wanted to be the centre of a crowd, or be funny and witty, but my shyness and anxiety held me back. It wasn’t until I was in Sixth Form (so that’s 16-18 years old for anyone outfit of the UK) that started to try ways of overcoming my anxiety. I used to push myself forward, raising my hand in class, opening debates, and fear of all fears, read aloud – I am completely terrible at it to this day – and still do, even if my heart was racing and I felt like I was going to throw up. Every time I get on a stage or ask a question in a panel/talk, I still feel this complete fear. It can feel like it’s going to overwhelm me, but I want to beat it so badly that I have found more and more ways to overcome it. The biggest of these being costume and fashion.

Yes, yes, I’ve talked about this before, but I think it’s important to push the idea that you can break through these anxieties, even if it’s only in a small way, by creating a shield for yourself with your clothes. You can make yourself into someone new, someone who can step onto that stage, or can ask that question, or make that phone call. I’m not going to say that fashion can cure anxiety, I’m not that stupid, but it does have a power that you should not underestimate. If you look good on the outside, I promise you will feel a good 5% better on the inside, maybe even more.

For me it wasn’t just shyness this helped with, I’ve used fashion as a way of helping deal with dysphoria and anxiety. It’s my little push to help me get out of the house.

On my worst dysphoric days I dress myself up. I plan and put on an outfit that looks damn good, I’ll do my makeup so I’ve got cheeks for days, and no, I don’t care if I’m wearing “too much” makeup to go to the shops. It’s making me feel better. So I might be over dressed but it’s making me feel just that little bit better, and that’s what matters. If I have to be completely over the top and ridiculous – I mean, I’ve had days when I’ve gone full on lolita just to walk to the shops – then fuck it, I will. For someone else, it might be as simple as putting on a clean t-shirt, but it’s presenting an outward appearance even if inside you aren’t ok.

There will always be days when that isn’t enough, or you simply can’t do it. But you can still use fashion on those days. You can look through your wardrobe, put things together, have a mini fashion show in your bedroom just for yourself. Or if you can’t do that, imagine putting those items together, there are some good apps for outfit building and inspiration, though don’t get sucked into the “I’ll never look this good” place. That’s dangerous. I often find sketching helps too. Maybe designing an outfit I’d like to sew, or some clothes I might go and look for when I’m feeling more up for it. See, the wonderful thing about fashion is that it is a great distraction. You get excited by it, or at least I do. I want to pull those clothes out of the wardrobe and see if it works. I want to go into town and make that new look. It can really boost me.

Again, I am aware that this is not going to be enough for everyone, and that it is not a cure. But if it works for me, it just might work for someone else.

If you are feeling severe anxiety or depression, please see your doctor and seek help, if you haven’t already.

Outfit Breakdown

This outfit is what I wore to the Leaky Con (a Harry Potter convention) evening do. It’d been a really long day, after several long days of travelling, sewing and conventioning – I had in fact just got back from travelling as well so I was a bit of a wreck – and I was super overwhelmed. I could feel the anxiety pulling at me, and I was so glad that I had decided to bring such a ridiculous outfit to wear, as I knew it would divert attention away from me and onto the clothes.

Let’s start with the main piece of this look, the galaxy print pantaloons. These are, unsurprisingly, hand made and hand painted. They are one of my favourite things that I have ever made. They are so individual and unusual. I think it’s nice to have the main piece of an outfit be the trousers. It’s different and shakes up the look a little. Why does the statement piece always have to be a dress or a top? Statement trousers are the way forward!

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Who wouldn’t want this on their body?

I have to say, I’ve never seen a pair similar for sale, even on lolita or ouji shops, but if you feel a desire to try this for yourself, you can follow this tutorial for making the fabric and then I suggest I very basic trouser or shorts pattern with added cuffs at the bottom of the legs as a sewing base as this a, badly, self made pattern.

The galaxy print pretty much dictated the rest of the look. I decided that rather than going overboard with the galaxy print on all the other big pieces in the outfit – the waistcoat and blouse – I’d focus that aesthetic into the accessories.

The tights continue the galaxy print down the leg and extend the statement, which is reflected in the wrist cuffs and neck bow. These items bring the print into the upper part of the outfit without making it too OTT (I mean it’s pretty OTT but still). The bow on the hat makes sure that it is tied into the rest of the outfit as well, while also using pieces like the feathers – the same colour with a scifi style – and the flowers that looks like little white stars, to make sure it is in keeping with the rest of the look while also being flouncy and fun. As well as this the gold star on the hat is the same star as on the cuffs of the pantaloons though you can’t quite see that in the picture.

When it comes to accessories, thinking about how the work with the rest of the outfit is important, obviously. With a look like this each little item is informing the whole rather than being it’s own statement piece so they need to lock together to create the big picture. For example, the white flowers on the hat also match to the blouse with is covered in white rose patterned lace. I didn’t want to have any of the pieces feel like they were standing alone and so tried to bring them together as much as possible.

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Accessorization perfection!

If we look at the necklaces, both are gold like the buttons and makeup, both employ purple as their main colour, though one is a galaxy style piece, the other, the moon is very different it matches the aesthetic just as much as the galaxy print pieces. You don’t want to over do it with one pattern style as it could ruin the look and become tacky, but mixing it up with a matching aesthetic will keep it interesting instead.

The waistcoat in this outfit is wonderfully versatile. I’ve used it a lot in very different looks and it always works. I think a piece like this, plain colour but with some interesting stitching and detail is a great piece of have in any style of wardrobe. You can use it over and over and it doesn’t get boring or stagnate. With ouji, this waistcoat can be military, gothic, circus, you can play around with it and see what you can get. It’s perfect.

Last thing in the outfit before I move onto the makeup – yeah, I know you’re waiting for me to talk about that – is the shoes. Simple black oxfords. Perfection. There is nothing better for a complex look than a simple shoe. Sometimes you might want to push the look into that OTT place, but often you don’t need to and simple shoe can keep it from tipping over the edge. With these I styled them with glittery ballet ribbons for the laces because, well why not, I was going to a party, and it was just enough.

Right. Ok. Let’s do this. The make up. I love galaxy print. I love it so much so I put it on my face. I used a couple of different tutorials (see here and here) and then kind of had a play myself. This version is a little more bright colour than I would normally have down if I was doing this look, but with the bright purples of the print in the outfit I felt it needed to match and stand out. It’s a really fun party look and adding the gold highlights on the brows and eyelashes just made it pop! The lipstick is just lipsale (or chapstick) with gold eyeshadow pressed onto it and blended. It’s so simple, though it doesn’t stay that well so drink with a straw.

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Not sure why I went for a wig, I think just because I wanted to look really different and hide behind the outfit. It worked and looks great so.

That’s all for this week, I hope you like this. I will be trying to keep to weekly updates from now on and doing more variation in the articles so look out for more cosplay stuff and I will be bringing “Back To Basics” back properly.

You can now follow me on Instagram @lilistprince and on twitter @lilistprince. I will be posting daily looks on both of these, and chatting about life as a nonbinary person.

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‘Olly Out!

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Written by Holly Rose Swinyard

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