Dénola Grey: 'A Style Conte'

Growing up, I never really paid much attention to what I wore. My appearance was important, in the sense that I always wanted to look neat, but I barely paid close attention to the clothes I wore. Most of us were left at the mercy of our mother’s choice in our clothing I’m sure. I still cringe when I see picture of some of the ‘god-awful’ ensembles Momma Grey put me in! 
It wasn’t until I started my second year of college that I actually became conscious of my outward self. Not very exciting, right? . I just woke up one day and started putting cool outfits together. Big whoop! Here is the thing though, its actually a pretty interesting journey that led up to that morning, where I suddenly had a “Style-piphany” ( Style epiphany). I will keep it short.
I had always been a thinker growing up. Not about academics, more about social interaction. I liked observing the world around me and I made it a point of duty to blend in with the background noise and become somewhat invisible. I didn’t have a lot of friends, always walked around with my head down,..etc. I was a textbook introvert. What was I repressing? I was coasting along quietly going unnoticed and I was perfectly fine with that, or so I thought. 
I always knew I was creative, I liked visuals, I loved art and music. My TV shows of choice always had an element of drama and luxury in them. I knew that much about myself, but looking back, I still had not been properly introduced to myself yet.
When it was time to start college, I saw an opportunity to begin to come out of head and communicate with the world. But how was I going to do that? I certainly lacked people skills because of my many years of self-induced social seclusion. I was what you would refer to as an ‘awkward turtle’. The thought still crossed my mind, ‘what was I so afraid of? ‘ I kept battling with my predisposition to introversion and my new desire to become more ‘alive’. Everything came to a head when one day, I literally woke up and decided to stop caring. I decided to let go of all the apprehension and worry about all the possible negative outcomes of becoming visible. I was finally ready to communicate with the world.
Without thinking, I slowly started using my love for visuals, drama and art to start communicating with the world. I wanted to look like what I felt on the inside. I was exploring the world finally. I was taking risks, meeting people, and before I knew it I became extremely popular. In the space of one year, I went from having 2 friends to an embarrassing amount. I felt different and I realized I was beginning to even dress differently. My wardrobe had completely changed. Everything was crisper, the colors were brighter, and the fit was more tailored. I realized that without really thinking about it, I was communicating with the world through my clothes. I soon became known as the fashion savant of Baylor University and even ended up in the School Newspaper in my Senior year as Baylor’s very first ‘Best Dressed Bear.

Photography By Toyosi Faridah Kekere-Ekun©
When I say I am a style enthusiast, I don’t just mean it superficially. I see the world through a very different pair of eyes. I am a product of all the lessons I learned and the decisions I made. My thoughts, likes, dislikes etc. are all different parts of my personal style. Style is not about fashion. In fact, it is the other way round. Fashion is just a tool. Style is the end product of a lot of parts fused together using different tools. This is what makes us unique. This is what makes us human...