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How to Express Your True Self Through (and Despite) Fashion



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About The Book

You are more than what you wear—but what you wear is still important! A tween guide to personal fashion and flair.

What you wear can be a powerful form of self-expression, and true style is about dressing to express yourself so you feel self-assured and confident in any situation. Fashion is also a great way to discover your unique personality—and show it off to the world!

Expressionista covers everything you need to know about fashion, including how to identify your own Fashion Persona (Classic, Natural, Romantic, Dramatic, Trend Tracker, or Mood Dresser), set up an awesome closet, track trends, shop on a budget, dress for your body type, and more. Packed with tips and quotes from fashion icons as well as fun quizzes and resources galore, this book is must-have personal style inspiration!


1 How You Look Is How You Feel: Good Clothes Days and Bad Clothes Days

Today is another day for your inner goddess to step out and shine.


Close your eyes and think about the most wonderful day in your life so far. Perhaps it was a birthday or a graduation or some other celebration. Perhaps you won an award or a competition. Imagine that you are reliving that day right now. Let your mind wander through all the sights and sounds.

Write in your notebook or on your computer about the occasion and how it made you feel.

Now go back in your mind and remember how you looked that day: What did you wear? Think about your clothes, your shoes, your jewelry, your hair, possibly even your nails. How did you decide what to wear for the occasion? Was it your decision, or did someone tell you? Did you buy something new or put together a new look from pieces in your closet? Did you borrow anything from your mom, sister, or friend? Do you wish you had worn something else?

Write about what you wore and how you felt about it.

We’re asking these questions for a good reason. There is a strong connection between how we look and how we feel about ourselves. When we look good, we feel good. When we feel good, the day seems brighter. We’re happier. We’re more agreeable. We’re nicer to ourselves and to other people. People like to be around us and that makes us even happier. Isn’t that what we all want?

The opposite is also true. When we don’t feel great about ourselves, it’s often because we don’t think we look good. It’s like having a Bad Hair Day, only worse. You’ve heard of Bad Hair Days, haven’t you? It’s when your hair doesn’t go the way you want it to, or you don’t have time to style it, or the rain makes your hair go frizzy or flat. All you can think about is how awful your hair looks.

Here’s how your thinking might go: You’re sure other people are looking at you, and they are thinking about how bad your hair looks. Next thing you know, you’re putting yourself down even more, thinking about how stupid and ugly you are. You don’t want to talk to anyone or answer questions in class because more people will look at you. And if people look at you, they will see your hair, and then they will think you are stupid and ugly too. All you want to do is run and hide.

Write something nice about your hair, so the next time you feel this way, you can remember what you love!

Bad Hair Days happen with clothes too. A Bad Clothes Day is when the leggings you want to wear are in the laundry, or you can’t find your favorite T-shirt, or your sister left the house wearing your clogs. So you wear your mom’s clogs, but you hate the color, and she doesn’t have any doodads in the holes. Not cute ones, anyway.

Another Bad Clothes Day could be when you go to a sleepover and someone makes a joke about your “little-girl bunny pajamas.”

Or on the first day of school, you wear a smart little sundress, and everyone else is wearing jeans. And you’re so embarrassed!


“Everybody should feel beautiful. No one should feel ugly.”

Write about a Bad Clothes Day you had. What made it a Bad Clothes Day?

It’s perfectly natural to get down on yourself once in a while. Just don’t do it often or stay there. Even the most secure Expressionistas have their down times, including some of the most talented and beautiful people you can think of. Lady Gaga has often said she felt like a freak when she was growing up. Taylor Swift says she felt like an outcast because she loved country music, which was unpopular in her school. And Janet Jackson of the fabulous Jackson family has talked about her brothers’ painful teasing. Because of them, she believed her smile was hideous. Janet literally banged her head against the wall until she cried because she felt so unattractive. It’s hard to imagine because she is so beautiful and talented.

“I sometimes feel like a loser still. I have to remind myself I’m a superstar.”


You don’t ever have to have a Bad Clothes Day again. We don’t want you to think negative thoughts about yourself or doubt who you are. The chapters in this book contain tips and tricks that will guide you through your entire life of shopping and wardrobe organization. You will be an Expressionista, just like Gaga and Taylor and Janet.

The first step to becoming an Expressionista is to identify your Fashion Persona. As we said before, you might call it your style, as in, “That’s just her style to wear lots of jewelry.” Or “My mom and I don’t like the same things—we have different styles.” But styles come in categories, as you’ll see in later pages. We call the categories Fashion Personas.

Everyone has an inner self and an outer self. Your inner self is made up of all the things that people don’t see. That’s the part of you that knows your dreams and your fears and your most secret thoughts. Your outer self is how you show yourself to the world around you. It is made up of your appearance, your posture, your voice, and the things you talk about. People see your outer self, but only you can see your inner self. Your inner self is permanent. Your outer self can easily be changed, just by changing your clothes.

When it comes to clothing, your inner and outer selves must be in harmony with each other. When they’re not, you are uncomfortable. You might think you’re not wearing the “right” clothes or that you are pretending to be someone you aren’t. You might even feel that no one really knows you. Here’s where the Fashion Personas come in.

Your Fashion Persona is the real you. It is who you are on the inside. It is what you really like and what truly makes you happy or sad or confident or afraid. It guides you to the clothing and appearance choices that reflect who you really are. When you dress to express your Fashion Persona—and not the way some magazine or television star or classmate dictates—the inner you and outer you are in harmony. That’s the way it should be. As a side benefit, you will build a wardrobe of things you love and relate to. If you are rushed to get out the door some morning, you can just grab anything and put it on, and you’ll feel fine. You might be nervous about missing the bus or getting a good grade on a math test, but you won’t worry about your clothes on top of it. That’s the Expressionista way.


Before you buy an item, make sure it fits your Fashion Persona.

There’s another benefit to knowing and expressing your Fashion Persona: you gain greater confidence when you know you are being true to yourself and no one else. Then the next time someone makes a joke about your bunny pajamas, the pajamas you love so much and that make you so happy, you can just shrug it off. After all, you’re an Expressionista!

Everybody has a Fashion Persona: every girl, teen, and woman. (Men and boys have them too, but they usually don’t take clothing as personally as women do. Of course, there are exceptions, but in this book, we are concentrating on us ladies!) Furthermore, all Fashion Personas are different. For the sake of simplicity, we categorize Fashion Personas into five main types. They are: Classic, Natural, Romantic, Dramatic, and Trend Tracker. And that’s what we are going to talk about next.

Are you ready to learn your Fashion Persona?

Write a big YES!

About The Authors

Photograph by Hal Baim

Jackie Walker appears as the “Dr. of Closetology” on Fox TV’s Good Day Tampa Bay. Judie and Jackie have been in the fashion business for more than twenty years, and they lecture together nationally.

Photograph by Hal Baim

Pamela Dittmer McKuen is a full-time fashion and feature writer for a dozen consumer, trade, association, and collegiate magazines. She began her writing career as a suburban fashion reporter for the Chicago Tribune—after first modeling, producing fashion shows, and teaching charm and beauty classes to young girls. Pamela writes a monthly style column for Chicago Life magazine as well as inserts in the Sunday editions of The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Aladdin/Beyond Words (September 3, 2013)
  • Length: 224 pages
  • ISBN13: 9781582704289
  • Grades: 3 - 7
  • Ages: 8 - 12

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Raves and Reviews

"For preteens confused by fashion and style, this informative guide will help introduce some basic concepts with a healthy dose of encouragement and self-discovery.

– Kirkus Reviews

"Jackie Walker and Pamela Dittmer McKuen take the role of fashion and the societal pressure on girls to achieve an idealistic image and treat it as a way to self-empowerment and respect for others."

– Dr. Marlene Seltzer, Director of NoBLE (No Bullying—Live Empowered)

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