What Ugly Betty Taught Me About Fashion and Personal Style

Anyone who's been keeping up with this blog already knows that the reason I got into fashion photography is because I fell in love with the ABC show Ugly Betty (specifically season 3 episode 18: A Mother Of A Problem.) When the show got cancelled last year in its fourth season after ratings fell, I cried. Yes, I actually cried.

Now, almost a year later, I've focused my career ambitions and continued my dedication to the show that showed me my calling.

I recently started watching the entire series again on Netflix, and I delight in the fact that I now recognize so many more faces and understand the references I didn't get the first time around. (Insert Nina Garcia and Christian Siriano cameos, as well as Issac Mizrahi and Adriana Lima.) Watching it for the second time, I realize that somewhere in between Daniel's shenanigans, the Wilhemina baby drama, Betty's debacle with Henry and Mark and Amanda's nonsense, I actually learnt a thing or two about fashion. Few would name Betty Suarez as a fashion icon, but to me, she is a pioneer of personal style. From her signature pearl B, to her loud and often floral ensembles, Betty Suarez taught me everything I will ever need to know about fashion. 

In the years that Betty worked at Mode, her style evolved, but she managed to never stray too far from her roots. Her quirky style remained evident even after she ditched the ponchos and bright coloured tights. Every girl can learn a thing or two from Betty's fearless style. This is what i learnt:

Be Original

If there's one thing Betty has always been it's original. While everyone else at Mode was donning designer, she stuck to her flowers and often ridiculous bows. Through 3 seasons of ridicule and a daily blog of her outfits, Betty still managed to keep her Queens charm. Just because everyone is doing something, doesn't mean it's right for you. Fashion is about self expression and individuality, so wearing what everyone else says is in kind of defeats the purpose no? The thing that makes fashion so appealing to so many people is the way it acts as a symbol of the person that we are. We use clothes to signify to the world the kind of people that we are or want to be. (That's why moms are always a little concerned when those skirts get a little short!) The fact is, the reason we're judged so strongly on our appearance is because we all subconsciously accept that what we wear is a direct reflection of the people we are. Being original and staying true to our personal fashion sense is one of the best ways to let people know what we stand for and who we are. 

Be Confident

Betty would never have gotten through her years at Mode without the definite knowledge that she was good at what she did. Knowing that she deserved the opportunities given to her was one of the things that helped her wade through all the negativity being thrown at her on a daily basis. This is a lesson most of us already know. When it comes to fashion, confidence is key. I mean, let's face it, who could really wear these completely outlandish man-repelling getups without an armor of confidence and complete self-assuredness to protect them? This is a skill that betty has mastered, and it's something that we all can learn from her. Moral of the story? if YOU think you look great, then hold your head up high and do what you do. 

Sometimes More is More

Much to the chagrin of her poor nephew Justin, Betty has always had a flair for bright colours in large amounts. The 'mode-ettes' cringe, but I say why not? Obviously you can't always wear the entire contents of your wardrobe at all times, but being a little busy never hurt anyone. The key is to know what works. Pick co-ordinating colours so that even if your outfit is loud, it isn't visually confusing, and pick your accessories wisely. Some people like to keep their outfits simple and splurge on the add ons, some people do the reverse. Betty wears everything all the time. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to OWN the look. If exuberance is your style, then there's no reason that your clothing shouldn't reflect that . 

Have a Signature Piece

All the cool kids are doing it. Betty's B has been with her since the beginning of the show, and it's one of the things that stand out about her style. Having one accessory or styling flair that you can make all your own isn't a novel concept (remember Miranda Priestly's white scarves in The Devil Wears Prada?) That one thing can make you recognizable to the wider fashion community, kind of the way that some women have a signature scent. Some women always wear red nails, others always wear their hair in a bun. Your thing should showcase not just your fashion sense, but your personality. It should make you identifiable from a reasonable distance. Of course, towards the end of the last season, Betty's sense of style finally evolved past ponchos and colourful socks. But I will always cherish the Betty who thought that "dressing down" involved an all black ensemble with a bright pink bow on her butt.

Fashion is art. All it is, is another way of taking what you feel on the inside and putting it on display for the world. Betty showed me that there's nothing wrong with letting people know who you are through what you wear. I salute you Betty Suarez.