The Croft Magazine// By Ben Carpenter, Film and TV Editor
Ben Carpenter talks about his experiences of discovering how to dress with confidence, through embracing his own unique style in Bristol’s alternative fashion scene.
Bristol is a unique place; liberal politics, diverse communities and a devotion to the arts are just a few reasons why. But when it comes to assessing the surface level, there is simply nothing more iconic to Bristol than the ‘unique’ fashion of its people.
For me, and I don’t doubt for countless others, moving to Bristol triggered a stylistic shift from H&M to UO and vintage stores, but it didn’t take long to realise that despite fitting in amongst the student population, I felt like I’d done myself an injustice. As someone who has long prided themselves upon being true to who they are and allowing my personal style to reflect that, the subliminal pressure of the edgeless edgy looks sported by the student population had managed to push me off kilter. With an abundance of baggy denim and other Y2K nonsense hanging in my wardrobe and my aesthetic confidence at an all time low, I channeled my inner Carrie Bradshaw and couldn’t help but wonder - I may look confident, but why don’t I feel it?
The answer: none of my current outfits reflected who I was. It’s easy to think that due to Bristol’s position as an alternative fashion capital that you’ve avoided fashion perceived as ‘basic’ when in reality, Bristol has very much built its own definition of said term. It’s also easy to think that adopting such a perceivably alternative style is the answer to that craving many have for individuality. But for some that’s just a plaster, a veil of confidence that slips upon Brandon Hill's slightest gust of wind.
I took to the drawing board. From my favourite shows to my closest friends, I found myself on a mission to have my outside appearance match how I felt inside. And honestly, I found that the problem wasn’t with what I owned but how I used it. In trying a wide range of new outfit combinations and adopting subtle yet valuable accessories, I found the best way to feel truly confident day to day is to see clothing as a costume of sorts.
A range of bags for different occasions and a range of jewellery that matches both my outfit and my mood allows me to feel excited about my appearance everyday. As simple as it may sound, I started to buy clothing I actually liked as opposed to clothing we’re told to want. Of course I’m no psychologist as those two are bound to intersect, but I immediately felt more like Ben when I made myself smile with my clothes, rather than relying on the opinions and glances of relative strangers.
Dressing for yourself is nothing new, but boy does it feel good.
Ultimately university is the perfect time to try out new styles with a range of alternative fashion influences, but dressing for confidence is truly about looking in the mirror and feeling self assured in an outfit. It's good to take inspiration from those around you yet what matters most is wearing what inspires you, what makes you feel great and items which express your personality!
Featured Image: Epigram/ Ben Carpenter