And my reply is always a peeved, "Yes. Yes, I am."
When faced with these situations I remind myself to reflect on the words of Oscar Wilde: "Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn." In my mind, he couldn't be more correct. Fashion is just an extension of one's self-expression. People are beings of emotions, desires, experiences and dreams. We define ourselves (and our emotions, desires, experiences, dreams) through cultural outlets -- food, dance, drawing, and songwriting, to name a few. Many people don't realize that to some fashion is simply an expression of identity.
So this is where the not giving a damn factor comes into play. If you truly use fashion as a method of self-expression, it's important to remain confident in who you are and what message you're conveying to those around you. It's imperative that your fashions serve a purpose. Someone once told me, "You can only break the rules if you know them." You'll undoubtedly fall to all criticism if you don't recognize that you're making a fashion risk while standing assured in the message you're trying to convey. With this in mind, if someone doesn't appreciate how the pattern of your shorts "clashes" with your cardigan, so be it. Everyone has deviating opinions when it comes to artwork. After all, Van Gogh wasn't recognized for his brilliance until many years after his death -- that is if you believe he possessed any brilliance at all.
Here are some examples of rule-breaking outfits that are more or less susceptible to criticism.
This here is Dianna rocking an outfit perfect for a typical Floridian winter day. Some see the combination of dark denim jeans with a light denim button-up as a fashion "no-no." However, Dianna only breaks the rules because she knows them. And may I add that she breaks them effectively.
This was an outfit that I wore a few weeks ago. I can't tell you how many people asked me why I wore a black scarf and boots with a brown leather jacket -- actually I can: three. But the truth is, black and brown can go together if my heart so desires. I'm not sure if anyone appreciated my outfit, but I did, and that's what really matters, right?
At the end of the day this concept applies to businessmen, fashionistas, and politicians alike: If you don't whole-heartedly believe in the ideas you're pitching, no one is going to buy it. Express yourself. Break the rules. Accept criticism. Break more rules. Remain confident in who you are, what you want to say, and don't give a damn.