Photography by: Melissa Majchrzak
My curiosity always gets the better of me. Where did the popular, oft-repeated phrase, “Express Yourself,” originate? And what did it mean?
My first personal association with the phrase was from Madonna’s 1989 hit song titled “Express Yourself” with its message to demand that your lover professes (expresses) his love for you. (Love this! Amen, sister!) But even more intriguing to me is understanding what “express yourself” means now; what is its definition thirty years later? I would argue it is a synonym for authenticity.
“Express yourself” has come to mean telling the world who you are, revealing the consistent and unalterable core of you that determines how you feel, what you think, what you value, your quirks, your strengths, your personality; the true one-of-a-kind you, in free-flow. Easy enough, right? How hard can it possibly be to BE you? It seems as though it is something that should come inherently, as simple and easy as learning to walk or speak.
Cultural, familial, societal and even religious programming, along with learning that validation from others is something to aspire to, interferes with and cripples our ability to be our true selves. Instead of being empowered to “express yourself” we get sucked into “second-guess yourself.” For many, we have become a whole mish-mash of ideas and ways of being that are not our own, making “express others” a more accurate term.
Personal style is my passion and purpose. One would think my relationship with clothing has been all sunshine, rainbows and pure positivity then, right? My reality has been quite the opposite. I was raised in a home where image was emphasized to a rather extreme and alarming degree. We weren’t allowed to have bangs, short hair, pierced ears, wear sleeveless or tank tops, or carry one extra ounce of body weight. We could only wear the Ralph Lauren clothing brand. (Ralph Lauren was regarded as near-deity in our home.) We were required to wear matching uniforms to church every week. At times I was sent to school in tears after being forced to wear something that I didn’t want.
have a zeal and great conviction about the importance of being and expressing your full and true self
As could be imagined, all of these cards stacked against me culminated in quite the clothing complex! For years it was a distressing experience to shop and buy clothes, but I was like a moth being pulled to a flame; it was my agonizing passion. I now have a zeal and great conviction about the importance of being and expressing your full and true self, with no tiptoeing, to perpetuate with fervor the cause of justice for anyone being denied such.
Over time I’ve realized that people in the world-at-large, specifically the U.S., deny themselves this gift and tool for self-ownership. Just the other day I was at a fundraiser luncheon and sat by a woman who is running for public office. When she heard that I help people with their personal style, she perked right up and started asking me lots of questions. She was a student anxious to learn. Near the end of the conversation, she leaned over and asked if it was OK that she had the cuffs of her blazer rolled. It struck me as a shame that she was wasting her energy and power fretting over rolled sleeves. How preferable it would be instead to celebrate and own who she is, rolled sleeves and all. We want our leaders and people, in general, to be confident and solid in who they are, with full disclosure! While they hide behind “safe” neutral colors and “safe” styles of clothing, they aren’t revealing who they are, perpetuating a lack of trust in us. Trust is the foundation of any relationship, and it’s difficult to trust anyone that doesn’t trust themself.
I share this story not to judge or be critical; she’s actually right in line with the typical and accurate story of most women today, which poignantly demonstrates the virus of self-doubt, confusion, and pretending to be something we’re not. Did you know the rate of buying clothing which we never wear increases exponentially year after year, a fact that the fashion industry perpetuates and capitalizes on?
So this is why I have founded and created “Sarah Speaks Style”, a styling system based on seven styling essences: noble, captivating, pure, eternal, innate, funky and sublime as a solution to align outer appearance with the inner self, to create a deliverable solution, a personal pilot, to know with pristine clarity what to buy and wear. Through experience I’ve learned that most people are able to articulate exactly what they want out of style, they just don’t know how to get there. “Sarah Speaks Style” is the how; it is the personal style solution for true self-expression and its direct correlation to fulfillment.
Studies prove the more you “express yourself,” the more satisfying and meaningful life becomes! There are myriad ways to do so; we just get stuck in the verbal because it’s the easiest (you don’t need one thing but your mouth) and takes the least amount of conscientiousness. Always remember, when we create, we express! Some ways to express yourself are through art: painting, sculpture, coloring, photography; writing: essays, poetry, books, songwriting, journaling; music: playing instruments, listening, writing songs/tunes, singing; dance: any form of body movement; yoga, martial-arts disciplines, relationships, sports, cooking, baking, designing: home, jewelry, clothing, gadgets; gardening, hair, woodworking, metalworking, decorating, quilting, and yes, clothing: designing, sewing, styling, wearing.
Clothing is the only means of expression every individual on this planet is engaged with daily, 24/7. No one can escape this relationship, whether it’s Donald Trump or the Queen of England or the janitor at the local school. We might as well take this tool and work it to our advantage, bringing our confidence and best selves to the table, instead of someone neither we nor others will recognize.
So please, find a way to “express yourself” today! And when you get dressed, kindly make it all about you! Owning and reflecting yourself will only confirm the positivity within you that allows you to show up vibrant in all areas of your life!