Dressing for Our Own Gaze

Dressing for Our Own Gaze

Embracing Authenticity & Self-Expression

Written by Lauren Trend

Dressing for Our Own Gaze

In a world often dictated by external expectations and societal norms, the concept of "dressing for our own gaze" is a profound testament to individuality and self-expression.

The way we dress can be a powerful means of self-affirmation, a visual declaration of our inner identity, and a celebration of personal autonomy. When we carefully curate our attire with ourselves as the primary audience, we embark on a journey towards authenticity and self-empowerment.

Growing up, I often found myself conforming to societal norms, attempting to blend in and meet external standards of style. It was a phase marked by insecurity and a lack of self-awareness. My wardrobe was highly cyclical: comprised of the latest trends and break-out brands, yet beneath the surface, I felt disconnected from my own reflection. It was as if my clothes were merely a costume, donned for the approval of others rather than a genuine reflection of who I was.


Lauren Trend


However, as I matured and gained a deeper understanding of myself, my perspective on dressing transformed. I learned that clothing could serve as a canvas for self-expression, a medium through which I could articulate my values, tastes, and aspirations. That it in fact had so much more to do with how I saw myself, rather than how I needed others to see me. This pivotal shift occurred when I began dressing for my own gaze - choosing garments that resonated with my inner identity and aesthetic preferences, rather than succumbing to trends or external expectations.

The act of dressing for ourselves is not merely about aesthetics; it is a radical act of self-knowledge and acceptance. By consciously curating our wardrobes, we affirm our individuality and reclaim agency over our self-image. I know this to be especially true as a Queer woman, whose personal style deeply intersects with her identity. Each morning, as I select my outfit, I am reminded that I am the foremost audience of my appearance. That how I feel, and move through the world, matters. That the clothes I wear become an extension of my identity; reflecting my personality, my passions, and most importantly, my evolving sense of self.

I can’t help but feel as though dressing for our own gaze, forgetting about and foregoing trend cycles and forecasts, fosters a profound sense of empowerment. It liberates us from the gluey grip of overconsumption and societal judgment, and allows us to embrace our unique identities. When we are able to prioritize our own perception, we can carefully cultivate a deep seeded confidence, rooted in self-acceptance, and the opinions of others fade into insignificance as we revel in the authenticity of our self-expression.

Lauren Trend


This journey towards self-directed dressing is often accompanied by a process of introspection and discovery. Over the years, this has been such an integral part of my own self-practice. Having experimented with different styles and aesthetics in my youth, I unearthed facets of my identity previously obscured. I have no doubt that my coming to terms with my sexuality was deeply connected to my wardrobe, personal style and sense of self-expression. From vintage-inspired femme ensembles that evoked a sense of nostalgia, to minimalist silhouettes that embody simplicity and celebrate more masculine forms; each outfit and era of my style served as a mirror reflecting my multifaceted self.

Dressing for ourselves need not be one-dimensional. But a dynamic, continuous exploration of who we are and who we aspire to be.

I’d be remiss not to acknowledge that embracing self-directed dressing is not without its challenges. Society's fixation on external appearances can cast shadows of doubt on our sartorial choices. We remain served an algorithm that rewards a sea of sameness. Our fear of judgment or ridicule may tempt us to revert to familiar norms and conformist styles. Yet, it is precisely during these moments of uncertainty that dressing for our own gaze becomes most transformative. It becomes a courageous assertion of authenticity - an unwavering commitment to honoring our true selves.


Navigating the reasons behind our clothing choices can often be complex. We're frequently challenged by the question of whether we genuinely like something or if our preferences are influenced by external factors. For instance, what do we choose to wear when no one else is around to see? These moments of introspection are transformative in reshaping our approach to fashion. Before making a purchase, it's important to pause and ask ourselves: "Would I still buy this item if no one ever saw me wearing it?"

would I still buy this item if no one ever saw me wear it?

This deliberate consideration encourages us to make choices that align with our authentic selves. Whether it's appreciating the craftsmanship of a piece or prioritizing sustainability in our fashion choices, each decision becomes a reflection of our values and ultimately, makes up what comes to be the practical employment of our personal style.

In its truest essence, dressing for our own gaze transcends fashion; it is a philosophy grounded in self-respect and self-discovery. It underscores the significance of honoring our unique narratives and celebrating the beauty of individuality. It invites us to reclaim ownership of our bodies and redefine beauty on our terms.

As I continue to evolve on my journey of self-actualisation and expression, I am reminded of the profound words of Ralph Waldo Emerson: "To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment." That who we are on the outside marries effortlessly with who we know ourselves to be internally. Dressing for our own gaze epitomizes this accomplishment; a testament to embracing authenticity amidst, and in spite of, a sea of conformity.

Today I pose the following questions to you:

  1. Who are you dressing for? And if it's not yourself, why?
  2. Who’s opinion on your style matters more to you than your own?
  3. What would your wardrobe look like, if yours was the only gaze that mattered?
  4. Are you inspired to dress for comfort? Or as a creative act of self-expression
  5. What informs the clothes you wear and how does it intersect with who you are at your core: your values, your beliefs, your identity?

We know that as consumers, we have the power to make meaningful choices. The clothing we choose to invest and adorn ourselves in is a reflection of who we are - whether we choose to place importance on the fact, or not.

As we navigate the intricate tapestry of life, let us remember that our clothing is not merely fabric, that the concept of personal style is far less vacuous than many give it credit for. That our self-expression is a narrative - a visual ode to the beautiful complexity of our inner worlds. By dressing for ourselves, we honor the essence of who we are and embark on a journey towards self-actualization, one carefully curated outfit at a time.

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