A nonprofit publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Fashionista: Express yourself, make a statement — fashion can define our full, authentic self

By Catrena B. Thomas
Inspired Fashion

Fashion has always been a way to express yourself individually and collectively. Fashion is a statement of the era; it reflects the thinking of the people during that particular moment in time.

I remember back to the 70’s when Black is Beautiful was a new phrase, black women wore their hair natural (which means they didn’t use chemicals to straighten their hair) and they wore bright colors that were reflective of their personality, background and culture.

I am a child of the 80’s and 90’s. We were confused at best. Our style was all over the place. I remember jelly shoes, lace gloves, big hair, fluorescent colors, and the rock-n-roll group “Guns and Roses” playing in the background. It was an era of exploration and fun for me and my peers.

Fashion has brought us together and it has torn us apart.

I remember wearing the “We Are the World” t-shirt, which was part of an effort to end hunger in Africa and I remember in high school teenagers wearing white power t-shirts that started a race riot.
Even as recently as this past year we have seen shirts with Black Lives Matter and Blue Lives Matter.

Fashion is a powerful tool that can divide or bring together, but what’s so great about it is we get to choose how we use that power.

I am of the mindset to use fashion to make and create your own statement and bring others together to showcase how powerful and beautiful we are.

This journey and my love for fashion started with my mother. I would come home after a long day at school, and she’d have a brand-new outfit laying out on my bed. It made me feel beautiful and special. This is what I want for all women — to feel beautiful, empowered, and special just the way you are.

The media have done us all a disservice by defining beauty so narrowly, but I’m encouraged by the changes I’ve seen over the past few years. The look of beauty is beginning to expand and be more inclusive of all.

Most women only wear about 10% of the items in their closet (www.lifestylefifty.com) because we go for comfortable instead of exploring something new. We buy all these beautiful pieces that excite us and reflect our personality, but we are afraid to wear them because we don’t want to stand out in the crowd. There are many times I’ve put on an outfit that I love and decided not to wear it because I felt the crowd, the group, the business meeting couldn’t handle it, so I changed into something much more “acceptable.”

However, I’ve decided I’m not going to dim my own light because others can’t handle my brightness. If I’m too bright for you then put on some shades because this is who I am.

Catrena Bowman Thomas (Photo by Shelly Dawn Images)

I challenge you the next time you go to your closet wear that dress, put on those pants, and let your beautiful personality shine through. We need it, and we need you to bring your full authentic self to the table, the seat, and boardroom.

In this monthly column we will explore the intersection between fashion, women’s empowerment, and the culture of the day.

Join us in this conversation. 

Catrena B. Thomas is the owner of Inspired Fashion, an online clothing boutique for women. Check her out at  www.inspiredfashion40.com. This is the first of a regular monthly column to appear at The NKyTribune.

She and GlowGirl boutique are hosting the “Every Woman” Fashion Show September 11 at the Met Club. Get your tickets here and get the chance to meet her in person.

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