The Sweater Dork is a personal style, fashion inspiration and lifestyle blog. Our mission is to inspire all people to be 100% themselves and strive for their dreams. We aim to share the things around us that make us happy whether it be music, fashion, art, nature, design, television or film. We are firm believers in promoting what we love rather than bashing what we hate.
Each person has a unique quality that makes us beautiful and different from the person next to us. We want to encourage everyone to embrace who they are, what they love and focus on lifting each other up and inspiring each other to live our dreams.
As most of us do, growing up I was always trying to fit in and do what I thought was “cool” and what others were telling me was.
I went through the beach bum surf trend that seemed cool in my area, where I wore head-to-toe Roxy and Billabong, with the email “[email protected]”. There was the “non-conformist” punk trend (where we all dressed the same and looked like bad versions of Avril Lavigne). And then the preppy, designer trend, where I only wanted to wear Ralph Lauren.
As you can guess, at some point, I grew up and found my own personal style. In doing so, I finally realized that I don’t fit in one and that I am a mixture of my experiences. This is when I also learnt that being “cool” to me is actually not caring what others think is cool and subsequently embracing who you are. I now believe that trying to “be cool” is one of the most uncool things you could do. If you love something, own it. I try not to surround myself with people who just want to “be seen”. My favorite people are the dorky ones who are comfortable being 100% themselves.
As the title of this blog may point out, I am a massive dork. Sometimes I talk too much and I am too open with people. I get overly excited and passionate about music, TV, sweaters, films, books, politics and food (particularly smoked salmon and ketchup, not necessarily in that order and definitely not together). I like pineapples, and not really to eat but just to look at (yes, it is extremely weird). I occasionally will come out with a phrase in Japanese or reference when we had to communal bathe at our boarding school in Japan (the best and scariest few months of my life).
I enjoy being surrounded by the people who I feel are okay with me being 100% Rachel. Life is too short to have friends who think you are “weird” or don’t fit into their definition of “cool”. I had enough of that growing up and this is not high school anymore. Even in the workplace, I have come across people who have made fun of or criticized what I was wearing, in particularly my shoes for being “too nice” for a production job even though I spend 70% of my day at a desk and seeing clients who I think I should look semi-presentable for.
I have always seen fashion as an art and a form of self-expression. Even when I was rocking my head-to-toe surf brands or when I was an angry teenager who just wanted to fit in by being “different”. I was always channeling how I felt and who I thought I was. Most of us do it, we try on different looks and see which one we feel the most comfortable that reflects us as a person.
I still feel that way but over the years of playing dress up and trying on styles, I found myself. I now know what I like (and what I don’t), what is me, and what is definitely not. And I am a mixture of my experiences and my lifestyle.
I am a city girl. Even after 6 and a half years in Los Angeles, my style is still very Sydney-sider (which I feel is LA meets NYC). I love Australian labels and designers (in spite of how expensive it makes shopping in Sydney). In LA, I will mostly hit up Urban Outfitters and LF Stores if I feel like shopping and I will never shop at Forever 21 (the sizes make me extremely uncomfortable). I believe in quality over quantity and that most of the time you get what you pay for. Sure, Ross may be cheaper but most of my clothes are pieces that I paid a lot for and I am still wearing years later as they are still in good condition. That doesn’t mean that I drape myself in designer clothes but I believe in having more expensive, timeless pieces and mixing them with cheaper accessories and basics.
I love the 60s/70s period for fashion and the 90s coming back made me more excited that I can convey in words. I love the idea of color and patterns, but most of the time my clothes are black or white (which is kind of ironic in this statement about not being one thing or another). My obsession for black also is great because no matter how hard I try, I always manage to spill something on myself and fall over (even while standing up and still). A lovely trait I seem to inherited from my Father.
I will never be fully comfortable leaving the house in sweat pants or flip flops. I will never be the corporate type and wear a pants suit or a modest pencil skirt. I am fine with anyone else doing it, and I respect differences in style, but it just isn’t me. I am ecstatic that I know exactly who I am, and it is reflected through the ways I express myself, from my wardrobe, the way I decorate my apartment, to my music playlist.
One other thing that comes with finding out exactly who you are and what you love is a straight path to what you want to do with your life, eliminating the factors or people you don’t need and focusing on what makes you happy. I am a strong believer of going for your dreams no matter how crazy or big. I don’t think I need to clarify but there are some obvious limitations to this belief, for e.g. I would love to be French-Chinese but clearly that is not going to happen anytime soon. So the big factors that you can’t change aside, if you want to make a change in your life or you want to chase your dreams, you are the only thing standing in your way.
I know this “live your dreams” notion I am referencing comes from a seemingly “privileged white girl” perspective. But I have honestly built my belief from a lot of reading over the course of my life. One of my biggest inspirations is model, author and social activist Waris Dirie. Waris Dirie came from a impoverished nomadic family in Somalia and was subject to female genital mutilation. Dirie fled Somalia to escape an arranged marriage and endured through some of the most awful hardships in order to make a better life for herself, the kind of life she knew that she deserved. I always think to myself, if Waris Dirie can come as far as she did, then I have it pretty easy and I can also achieve my dreams. Sure, I have been extremely lucky in the life that I have led, the financial stability and the resources that have been available to me. But I really think it is all about belief, in ourselves. As well as giving ourselves as people, the credit that we deserve. Plus, in the end, if you don’t believe in yourself or that you can achieve something, then you won’t achieve it. What is the hurt in believing? It just means you are one step closer to actually achieving it. The only ones who are going to make it, are the ones crazy enough to believe they can.
So, to now bring together this Tolstoy long-winded personal statement. This blog started as a personal style, fashion inspiration and lifestyle blog. But the more I look at it and think of the direction I want it to go and the meaning I want it to have, The Sweater Dork is about more than just fashion. It is about inspiration and self-expression. I want to be able to encourage all my readers to find themselves and never apologize for being that dork deep down inside of themselves, yearning to get out. I don’t believe that all of you are so unbelievably “cool” that there isn’t something that you are overly passionate about. Maybe you don’t like to tell people about it, or maybe you yell it from the rooftops but either way, embrace it. Don’t be ashamed of your quirks and love yourself for who you are. We are all unique and beautiful. We all have something that makes us different from the person next to us. Own it. Be you. Express it. And don’t apologize for being yourself. The people who matter, who are meant to be in your life and love you, will love you for the person you are.
And what’s more, don’t be afraid to live your dreams. You are the only person standing in the way of what you want. If you want to make something happen, get up and work at it until you achieve it.
All my love,
The Sweater Dork (aka Rachel O)