I've been a fashion designer for almost four years now and I always get asked this question: "How did you get into fashion?" And I always give the blanket (yet true) response about discovering my gift for sewing and design after I opened my boutique, observed a void in the industry and taught myself to sew. I'll go on to recite the timeline of me getting my first paying customer, then my first styling gig, first red-carpet appearance, yada, yada, yada (insert hard eye roll). Now, don't get me wrong, when I tell the story it is filled with passion and gusto that draws you in and leaves you wanting more. While the story is very much true and important, my passion for fashion did not begin there.
Let me take you back, wayyy back to Circa 1992 when I was 7 years old and growing up in a North Carolina ultra-religious household where there were 5 children, two adults and a strict dress code that was akin to "Little House on the Prairie" attire. I am the youngest of the bunch. There is Delijah, who is 18 months older than me, Miriam who is 11 months older than Delijah and my older two siblings Ezekiel and Tiquita whom are five and seven years older than me, respectively. Myself and the younger two siblings were so close in age that people often referred to us as "stair steps" and Delijah and Miriam were often called Irish twins. LOL!
With us three being so close in age, what I wore was largely defined by what my sisters wore. As a young girl, between the ages of about 3 and 10, my mother would shop at thrift stores or make a lot of our clothing and it was much easier for her to make three of the same pattern rather than to shop for differing fabric. When I was younger, it was great! I got to dress like my big sisters which made me feel like a "big girl" and all the teachers at school loved my older siblings so when I began elementary school, and they saw me with the same clothes as my siblings, it made for a smooth transition! When my sisters went off to middle school however, I quickly became the butt of a lot of jokes due to my "homemade attire" that hung loosely to my frail frame, and I stuck out like a sore thumb. Many "would be" joyful playground days turned to real life nightmares. I will save those stories for another day tho. :)
By the time I was in 4th grade, I desperately wanted to find some sort of identity and individuality. My big sisters were no longer around to make the "homely" and outdated fashion attire, make sense. Being bullied caused me to despise dressing like them and I realized I actually didn't even like the clothes, I just liked that I got to wear the same clothes as my sisters, whom I liked. But with them leaving me at elementary school at the mercy of these idiot bullies, I no longer liked the clothes OR my sisters (I was 7 guys, bear with me. lol!!). So, what did I do? Well, I began convincing my mother to style my hair differently and I would show her pictures of hairstyles in magazines that we could agree on. I would beg her to make me different style dresses and when she refused, I would ask for a different color at least. She would usually oblige. I think she sensed my need to express myself differently. My mom would sometimes take me to the fabric store with her and I would spend hours looking at the pattern books and picking out patterns that I thought looked more like what I felt like and less of a "threesome." Sometimes my mom would make it, sometimes she wouldn't.
As I got older, I began taking more control over my style choices. When I was 12 or 13, I got a summer job and saved up all my earnings to give to my mom for school shopping. I let her know that I would not be shopping at the thrift store that year nor would I be wearing hand me downs or matching outfits, respectfully. From there, I would do things like change out the shoestrings of my shell toe Adidas to match my shirts, accessorizing as much as was allowed and finding unique pieces that others would not normally wear. I remember my sophomore year, I splurged on a pair of brown and white, cow hide boots with real fur. I found this dope leather vest and cut slits into it and added cow print fabric to the openings. It was so bad ass!
By the time I was a Junior in High School, I was getting phone calls in the morning from my classmates asking me what they should wear or asking to borrow my clothes. With the days of dressing like my sisters long gone and my desire for individuality realized through my style choices, I finally felt like my clothes represented who I thought myself to be. Although there was and still is a desire for individuality, there is also the need to feel like I am a part of something bigger. Fashion allows me to do both in a #BoldSexyTimeless way!
So, the next time someone asks me how I got into fashion, I think I'll tell them that fashion has always been an integral part of shaping my identity and I just recently began to share that with the outside world. This journey has been thrilling thus far and although there are an equal amount of downs as there are ups, I wouldn't trade it for anything. I am excited to continue to create and share my passion for design and fashion with you all but not to worry ladies, the oversize Peter Pan collars are not on my inspo radar for the upcoming collection. ;)
I'm sure many of you have similar stories. I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment below if you can relate!
Also, check out these celebrity sisters who went through dress-a-like stage as well! :)
Beyonce and Solange do not look as excited as I was in their matching outfits!
Two of the Kardashian sisters in matching dresses. Kris and my mom have a thing for plaid and Peter Pan Collars!
Aerin shares an anecdote about wearing a dress that matches her sister Jane's.
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Until next time, stay #BoldSexyTimeless.