These were words that I had come to know and love when I heard an adjective assigned to my sense of style. Truth be told, though, they were right. I didn’t do things according to the rulebook and the way I put things together was a little strange, but it didn’t bother me. I liked being peculiar. It meant that I was limited edition.
But rewind the tape a little, and you’ll see a shy pre-teen girl on the tiny island of Barbados who hated skirts, dresses and anything girly. Fashion was just another f-word, associated with a part of life that was of no interest to me. I’d rather read a book than shop, and every time I went to the store, I had to be bribed to select something flirty and fluffy. And let’s not talk about hair – I was absolutely lazy. I probably shouldn’t have been so satisfied with my Jheri curl ‘do, but who cared? It was simple and easy and complimented my face.
When I moved to the United States from my Caribbean home, I found myself in a world that was fast-paced and loud. My accent garnered strange stares from my classmates and teachers, and the embracing of individualism was a culture shock. In my Bajan world, we were wore uniforms to school but we were still multidimensional. We accepted that the nerd could also be the party girl, thinking nothing of it. Fashion was simply a function of where one went, not a descriptor of who one was. But in the U.S., there were labels – lots of them. And yet, there was such a feeling of freedom, reminding me of the waves I used to see at the beach in the Caribbean Sea. I felt overwhelmed but I was also excited. It was a brave new world and I was ready to explore.