I had a comment on Instagram a while back that someone thought an outfit I’d put together was a great costume idea.
I’m Not Wearing A Costume – I Dress For Myself
The first thought that ran through my head was,
“Good grief! People think I’m wearing a costume?”
Then afterwards I was just pissed because I felt attacked as a person, not simply my style.
When I choose my outfits I’m choosing to dress as myself, in a way that expresses visually who I am. An attack on my clothing choices feels like an attack on my character as a person.
This leads me to the outfits I wore for the Toronto Vintage Clothing Show, which BTW…in case you were wondering…aren’t costumes!
While I certainly take inspiration from film and TV what I wear is a direct reflection of me as a person on any given day of my life. I’m dressing to please myself so that when I look in the mirror the image I see reflects who I am. I don’t ever see a stranger dressed in a costume, I’m dressed as myself, which is maybe a bit too creative and weird for some, but just right for me.
Expressing yourself creatively through your clothing choices is an opportunity. Some view it as an opportunity to wear the latest trends or follow the advice of a celebrity or blogger.
While bloggers and celebrities are a wonderful source of inspiration, they aren’t fashion Gods.
When it comes to dressing yourself you are the master of your own domain. You need to make those choices for yourself based on what you see reflected in your mirror. You get to choose how other people see you. The impression that your clothes make is a lasting one. Like we say about food, “We eat with our eyes first and our mouths second,” I’d say the same about forming first impressions, we expose ourselves visually first and then have the opportunity to follow up verbally.
I don’t worry that some people may not understand what I’m trying to communicate to the world. They simply don’t “get” me. The most important thing is that when I look in the mirror I’m happy with myself and I know I’m putting my best self out there.
Do you ever look in the mirror and feel like you are wearing a costume, or don’t recognise the person staring back at you? What choices or circumstances made you feel that way?
Linking up with Fun Fashion Fridays
Marilee Gramith says
I think both of your ensembles are BEAUTIFULLY crafted. The colors and textures of the fabrics in your first outfit are so warm and vibrant and seasonal. The attitude of confidence that this “look” evokes in your own psyche is the only thing you are responsible for. You are a rare woman BECAUSE you dress for YOURSELF. How others see you if they don’t KNOW you is going to be influenced by your “look” alone. You can’t control that and probably shouldn’t be offended either.
Your second outfit…oh my gawd!!!! I have a visceral reaction to that gorgeous print!!!
I am delighted and thrilled by it. You look stunning in it. Where will you wear it???
Sometimes when I’m putting together an outfit I remove an item because it just seems like too much. WHY? WHAT’S THAT ABOUT? I suspect that it’s because I’m afraid of what others might think… Whether my look has become costumey or weird or hilarious or just butt ugly is of course in “the eye of the beholder”.
Fashion SPEAKS and will evoke a response.
Isn’t that really why we love it? And hate it? Passions can’t thrive in a vacuum.
I’ve worn that amazing maxi dress quite a few times. I don’t find I need a special occasion to wear it, every day is special : ) It is one of my “go-to” vintage pieces. I bought it at the same vintage show the year before.
I wore these both to the Vintage Show as it was a two day event.
It is true of course that all fashion like beauty is subjective. The reason I wear what I do is to promote interaction and conversation, but hopefully avoid criticism.
Tiina L says
None of your outfits look costumey to me, I think they just reflect who you are. And that’s the point: the outfit must be in harmony with the person wearing it, and then it will always look perfect. Some people can get away with rather wild outfits without looking even slightly odd. And we think it’s perfectly normal (for that particular person). And me? I’m not eccentic in that sense, I guess I’m rather classic. and I always want to look like I just happened to pull something out if my closet and as if by some minimalist magic it creates a chic outfit… and yes, other people have expressed assumptions on my character, occupation, political views and income based on how they interpret my look…
The outfit you mention from IG was awesome, very Parisian. I think the person who commented was the only person in the universe who thought it looked costumey. But next time, if you can, delete that stuff immediately. You are in charge.
I have never thought your outfits are costumey, ever. The things you wear are you and look absolutely natural and effortless. And I’ve witnessed first-hand their ultra-positive impact on people.
If I’m wearing something AS a costume, I can be slightly uncomfortable walking around, but by the time I come home I am usually okay with it. Letting my personality dominate my clothes, rather than the other way around, is the key.
The person who left such a pathetic comment was obviously jealous of your innate sense of style and beauty. I was brought up believing that if you had nothing nice to say then stay silent. I expect she was just trying to belittle you with her passive aggressive behaviour. There’s always one bad apple.
You look absolutely glorious in both outfits, I know that, you know that and she knows that (whoever she is, Instagram ain’t for me).
Occasionally I get asked if I’m off to a themed party but that’s only when I’m away from home – I’ve lived in this town all my life and dressed however I wanted to for the vast majority of it.
Only the repressed and unhappy make snipey comments, let the hater crawl back into their greige lairs and let the rest of us dress how we please. xxx
🙂 Lookin’ pretty good, dear Suzanne!
On the first picture you somehow remind me of Mary Poppins 😉
Have a superb weekend! 🙂
Weird though this may sound, sometimes I am grateful that I have so few viewers in the cyber world because in a way I am waiting for the day someone decides their ‘honest’ and nasty opinion needs to be voiced about what I wear or what I look like. I’ll say it again – I don’t understand people.
But like you point out, the comment is one thing, the weird philosophy behind it is another. We live in a time when we are so much freer to express ourselves through clothing than ever before, but most people choose not to, and then to criticise those who do.
On weekends at work we get to not wear that polyester monster that is our uniform, and be free. What do most people do? They change into another uniform. Being a self-confessed hermit, ‘free-dress’ days are for me a time to go a little wild. But I often will get a little snide remark or reference here and there. Someone said to me the other day, when I was delayed by the train and was still wearing my commuting sneakers instead of my fabulous shoes I had bought to change into, why don’t you just get a pair of ballet flats like these (exhibits black (KMart?) flats) and save all the fuss? People! Go forth and be boring.
But someone like you won’t! I suppose criticising someone who chooses to identify sartorially with the norm would make me just as bad, so I won’t. But it’s an interesting phenomenon. And I guess it won’t change anytime soon. There will always be us who think you are the epitome of yourself and that you look magnificent!
suzanne carillo says
Just the thought of you wearing plain ballet flats makes me laugh.
I love both outfits. And I would love to own the dress (I’m mildly addicted to interesting maxi dresses lately…)! The dress is fabulous! It reminds me a bit of the dress that lost all its color when you washed it and you then started to color it in. Did you ever manage to finish that daunting project?? It was such a fabulous dress, and I’m glad you took photos before washing it…
I never think that you wear a costume (although I’m always impressed when you and your husband dress up together for period parties…). The clothes you wear look very “you.” And it’s clear that you are comfortable wearing what you are wearing, and that’s what’s important I think. And you always look amazing!
I don’t wear clothes anymore that make me feel uncomfortable. When I was a lot younger, I sometimes felt not like myself when I got dressed up for a “special occasion.” Luckily, I learned over the years that no matter where I’m going, I have to feel comfortable in what I’m wearing and like me. And, what I’m comfortable in is also changing. I have recently noticed that I need a bit more color in my life a couple times a week… 🙂
suzanne carillo says
I adore that new H&M dress you bought recently. I was very tempted to buy it myself but have been sticking with vintage or thrifted for now.
I have quite a few great patterned vintage maxi dresses (they are one of my weaknesses), some of which will eventually be showing up in my Etsy store.
I did finish painting that dress! It took me FOREVER! but I wasn’t going to let it go, it’s far too cool. I need to wear it again. I love it as much as the black dress I’m wearing here. I feel like Barbie when I wear it.
Once you go to colour it’s hard to go back to neutrals.
I’ve never thought anything you wore was costume-y. Creative and fun, yes, but not costume-y. I think the problem is some people are so boring that they see anything with an ounce of creative thought as beyond legitimate dress. We should feel sorry for them, not be wounded by their limited vision. (Oh, and by the way, do Canadians use the ounce as a measurement?)
suzanne carillo says
I still often use ounces to measure, other things I understand better with the metric system, like distance and temperatures. Weight for some reason was harder for me to grasp so I still use imperial measurements.
Dawn Lucy says
I get you and your style and it’s amazing! Never let the boring crowd dull your shine, Chick! Thanks for sharing with Fun Fashion Friday! Have a wonderful weekend.
Daenel T says
Suzanne, this totally struck a chord with me. First of all, though, people can be horrid!! And rude. I mean, really. Sometimes, I’m made to feel uncomfortable about my style choices because, well, I don’t exactly fit in here. There’s a lady who very obviously gives me the “up down and a snort” every time she sees me. I won’t lie and say that it doesn’t bother me. It does. Because what gives her the right to be so judgy about something like clothing. I mean, I may not like a person’s particular style, but I can appreciate the thought and care that went into putting together their outfit. It’s the same with home decor… I can appreciate someone else’s creativity without it being something that I would choose.
Whew, sorry, I obviously need to spend some time on your sofa talking to a therapist.
suzanne carillo says
I think we all like to believe we deal well with criticism but in the end it is still someone else judging us from their perspective.
Elaine Monkeypaints says
Oooooh such passive-aggressiveness!! I always feel a bit sorry for someone without the balls to say what’s on their mind (even if that’s none of their business) or resorts to much side-eye and back-handed compliments. Let’s assume it was not a nasty response, but a gormless one and rise above lol.
“Do you ever look in the mirror and feel like you are wearing a costume, or don’t recognise the person staring back at you?”
Not since I left school (and the school uniform) behind. However, even if I was wearing a uniform, I do have magenta hair – so I always have that to recognise 🙂
suzanne carillo says
I can see you were always a rebel! Great to see you haven’t lost that along the road of life.
Elizabeth g. Arthur says
I love, and agree with everything you say, Suzanne. You are a beautiful, creative, unique woman. Strange how some people think/react… It’s always refreshing to read your posts and see your beautiful photos. And this vintage dress! Wow! Elizabeth xx
I’ve never thought “costume” when regarding your gorgeous outfits. Express yourself, be yourself, you’re the only one you’ve got. Most people dress rather drably – I’m not judging, they might be thinking about physics or Great Literature, and don’t give a hoot about their clothes. Gild that lily, girlfriend, and stay fabulous, xo
You look so gorgeous in both of these outfits! Many people have so little imagination when dressing that anything with a bit of personality translates as ‘costume’ in their brains. Xx
Anna Parkes says
I’ve never, ever thought you were wearing an outfit Suzanne. I think you wear everything as an extension of your personality and hey you just have a big personality I’d say! You come across as a strong willed, focussed woman who knows exactly what she’s saying through the medium of clothes. That’s why I follow your blog – I love to see what you’re up to next, as you are always a source of inspiration for me. It’s so easy to get offended by the odd careless comment, but why bother? You know who you are, and that’s all that matters.
Blog on baby x
suzanne carillo says
From one strong willed focused woman to another … cheers to that!
I love your unique sense of style Suzanne! Your style nods to vintage fashion in a fresh, modern way in my opinion. It’s definitely refreshing to see people step outside of the box and take risks when it comes to fashion. For example, both outfits featured here are fantastic!
suzanne carillo says
This makes me so happy Katie…that is exactly what I was going for.
Someone actually said that? Well, at first I was shocked and then I remembered several years ago I attended a wedding reception held the end of October and I wore two skirts, one silky lack long one under a fuller burnt burgandy color one and a black patterned cardigan. I will was quite confused when the bride commented, love how you dressed up in a witchy costume for the party, its perfect. What the HECK!!! I was horrified to think she thought I dressed up like a witch for her reception. Although as I’m typing this I’m laughing my head off. So, here’s to dressing as we please and definetely expressing ourselves!!!
suzanne carillo says
Ha ha! Best comment ever. This totally made me laugh.
Like what the?
I can’t imagine saying something like that.
It reminds me many years ago when someone asked me when I was due. Oh yeah. Things got pretty ugly after that.
I think fashion is art, and you always look like beautiful art to me. Definitely never costumey.
suzanne carillo says
Thanks Lana : )
jodie filogomo says
The person who said that is probably one of those that only wears jeans and a t-shirt —so their perspective is quite different. Not that any of us are right or wrong….
As for your wonderful outfits, Suzanne….I just gasped when I see that maxi dress. It’s so stunning and fits you perfectly.
What you are showing to the world (IMO) is that you know how to make a statement and enjoy clothing & style. (or in my thinking—YOU ROCK!!!)
suzanne carillo says
The best thing about that maxi dress? It is like wearing PJs. I *almost* passed it up last year at the vintage show. Thankfully I was able to go back and contact the seller after the show and still get the dress. It’s one of my favourites along with the painted dress.
Debbie Stinedurf says
The only time I get dressed and don’t really feel like myself are those rare occasions when I have to pull out the stops and go full on professional for work. Hence the reason you will never see me in a pencil skirt/blouse/blazer/pumps combo…my soul died a little just typing that…lol! You’re clothing choices are distinctly you…not costume-esque in the least. You’re gorgeous, fabulous & exude coolness my friend!
Dear Suzanne – I loved the skirt, boots, dress, hat – and everything you put on. Why? Because 1) I myself wear clothes like you show, I like boho style, I like to be creative, colorful; 2) Not in a particular order, please 🙂 That is what makes YOU you, so I like to see your creations and to read your thoughts! it’s interesting, but I always tell people: if you don’t like a blog, don’t read it anymore – and more than that, don’t leave a bad comment. Why that? What have you done to the person for her to comment that? I tell you what: the simple fact that you wear what pleases you and s/he is affected by color, or whatever it is. Remember that blogger I once mentioned to you? All in neutrals and I respect that. Apart from the horrible things she did to me and believe me, still does, I don’t like her style, willing to be someone she is not, so I don’t read her blog anymore. Simple, isn’t it? So, others should do the same – like the one who left a nasty comment. You didn’t expect her to like anything – just to be polite. That’s the least someone can be! Bisous, hope you have a lovely week!
I have a feeling that I never want to dress like the person who had said that! But I also cant imagine not recognising myself in the mirror! I bought the clothes so I feel great in it! Oh Yeah, sometimes when it rains and I have to do some groceries, I will put on a jeans(I hate jeans) some boots and a boring sweater and then I feel ….boring! But only then! And you, my dear, look stunning always!
Theresa Campbell says
I’m out and about in vintage outfits all the time and feel completely comfortable doing it. I either get compliments, weird looks or asked what costume party I’m heading to. It’s been going on for so long, I’m unfazed. Too old to care at this point.
Some people will just never get it about dressing with imagination. So don’t let this one person’s comment bother you in the least. You dress with thought and panache, which in our ultra casual world, is something to be admired.
Señora Allnut says
amen, sister!, I’m a huge fan of dressing up for yourself, because dressing up to express your personality is something which makes you Unique!, and you’re Unique, dear lady, really unique and Gorgeous!
Love your outfits, you always look pretty elegant and stylish and you’ve got marvellous skills to make vintage look always cool and fabulous!. You rock!
I like particularly that maxi dress, such an amazing print, and obviously, it fits you like a dream!!!
Suzanne, both of these outfits are quintessentially “you” and they are gorgeous! I know that a number of the women on Ari Cohen’s Advanced Style blog get comments that they look like they are wearing costumes, but they are just being themselves, as you have articulated here. There are times when I have felt like I’m wearing a costume if I try to wear some of my vintage hats here, as no one wears hats in London, Ontario unless they are baseball caps or knit touques.
I absolutely love the colors and patterns in that first outfit. Wow! <3 Also, I would never look at that outfit and think it was a costume. Maybe it's the time of the year or maybe that comment is coming from people who aren't particularly snazzy dressers. I don't mean the latter comment as an insult. I really do think that there are people out there who are genuinely blown away when they see really well put together and interesting outfits that are outside the norm. The only way they can reconcile what they see is by concluding that it must be a costume. Heh.
I know that when I wear my…I dunno…sort of scary, avant garde weirdness hehe… the thought does cross my mind that I may look a bit costume-y. *shrug* That's kind of what makes dressing up fun, though. If you feel like being someone else for a day, then why not? 😀
elle the Elle Diaries says
This ensemble is outrageously gorgeous and Superbly beautiful and it could be a costume in that it can transport you to a better place. But clearly this is your style, a cultivated look that is refined and original. Like caviar, it is not for everyone.
I love and admire your style, I look forward to each and every outfit post, and to your writing as well.
Zoë agrees, with me, just ask her,
and that vintage dress. I think i need a fainting couch of my own.
No Fear of Fashion says
I love what you wear. But I get you. And I don’t think you should take the remark of the woman personal. You know you don’t dress average (God forbid). Which is what you want and like. So you are bound to run into people who will react to that. Sometimes positive, sometimes negative. Or plain “I don’t get it”. Let the negative or misunderstanding slide of you like water from a duck. They are just not your kind of people, so why worry about it. It is not an attack. It is a misunderstanding by someone who lives a totally different life. One you don’t want to lead.
So keep up the good work and dress as joyful as you can.