Design yourself

I was inspired to create a fashion issue because I look at personal style as a shortcut to becoming whoever I want to be. Often, when I stand in front of my closet, I think to myself, “Who do I want to be today? What do I want to convey to the world?”

Sometimes I want to be fun and easygoing, like when I’m meeting up with my sister and her two kids for a play date with my son. Then, I put on jean shorts and a flowery top. When I drive to the TRIBE offices in the city, which I do only a couple of times a month because I work mostly out of my home, it’s an occasion to dress up. I want to convey a sense of elegance and style befitting the editor of a magazine. Days at the office call for skirts and a belted waist, necklaces and fun accessories. And makeup!

And when I have those rare nights out, I want to be a woman, not a mom and not a business person, and not even a wife. A tight-fitting dress and heels say to the world, “I am young, I am sexy, and I am confident.”

I can change who I am from day to day, from situation to situation, with a simple change of wardrobe. That, I think, is the allure of fashion.

I haven’t always seen the power of fashion as an expression of self. I used to just put on whatever was comfortable, available and affordable. Sure, I liked nice clothes like any young woman, and I wanted to look good, but it didn’t dawn on me until I became an adult that style is a tool, not just a function of how much money you have. 

Expensive brand names and seasonal trends once seemed to me a frivolous luxury for my wealthy college classmates (I did go to USC).

And even later, in the workplace, I continued to dress like a fresh-out-of-college kid— often jeans and a USC sweat shirt. At the time, I felt inexperienced and insignificant, for the most part, so I dressed accordingly. Or was it that I dressed so casually that it affected how I felt about myself and my job—and how others perceived me? The chicken or the egg?

Somewhere along the way, I began to see the wisdom behind the cliché “Dress for Success.” And I decided to apply it everywhere in my life: Dress for Love, Dress for Fun, Dress for Respect. The beauty of this is that it can work on any budget. My husband is very fond of telling his mom — a super-shopper who always arrives from Israel with one suitcase and leaves with three — that he has to cajole and convince me to go shopping for myself.

I do like to shop, carefully and with much thought—but I don’t buy anything unless I absolutely love it, and I usually go shopping with a specific item in mind. And, my style is not a result of an abundant wardrobe. It’s a reflection of my own creativity, of mixing and matching new and old pieces, accessorizing and experimenting with new trends. I enjoy clothes, and I think it shows.

Some haute couture, such as Dina Bar-El’s luxurious gowns (Page 17), may not be accessible to us all, while other popular fashions are, like YMI’s smoking form-fitting jeans (Page 19), but the inspiration behind fashion design is always a fascinating read, it’s a designer’s gift to allow us our own self-expression, and that can be empowering. The sheer fun of looking great invariably leaves us feeling just as great.

So, the next time you’re standing in front of your closet, why not ask yourself, “Who do I want to be today?” And dress accordingly.