I Felt Like A Queen:

Or How Clinton Kelly Taught Me To Be “Freakin’ Fabulous”

By Patrick Zavorskas
Photography by Rita Aida and Patrick Zavorskas

I always thought my life would be like some 80’s movie: easy. You create your gang of misfit friends, fall in love, and somehow have fantastic musical numbers at the end... It had always seemed that way for my four siblings. They were the popular ones in high school, having the friends, the looks... my brother even managed to have mind-blowing musical-montages in a band he started with his friends.

Somewhere along the line, you have me; the painfully shy yet open-minded queer redhead. I was the kid who would rather spend days spilling coffee on a canvas, collecting vinyl records, watching late night reruns of “What Not To Wear.” and reading endless amounts of Plath than go to some random high school or college party. It was only until relatively recently that I truly realized how important these interest would be in my life. It shaped the person I am today, helping me communicate in ways I was never able to do before.

From what I was told, my parents said I could never really talk as a toddler. They said that I had insufficient verbal skills. I was practically mute, hiding in an invisible shell, covering every detail of my existence. Instead, I would put together patterns, shapes, and drawings... anything, and expressed my words as visual components for the world to obtain. Without even realizing it, these components created the foundation for my love of art.

I was still pretty quiet while growing up. The learning handicap of my verbal communication was taken over by a more visual component in which my obsession with lines, colors, shapes finally came in handy. I entered my first art class in middle school, a very beginner one that taught the basic foundations of art. My first assignment was drawing lines. Any lines were acceptable... you name it, I drew it. I felt like I was in heaven. Throughout the class, I learned how to draw shapes, and soon three-dimensional figures, picking up on new things as the days passed. I was taught how to shade, using differences in values to create different lighting. It was all there for me to fiddle with, and do whatever I felt like.

However, this was still not enough for me. I had my art, but there was only so much creative freedom I could have with it inside of the classroom. I was still somewhat uncomfortable with myself and who I was and longed for a way to keep expressing myself through different means. Then everything started to fall into place.

For whatever reason, “What Not To Wear was still such a guilty pleasure for me. I loved the idea of an almost metamorphosis, the ability for Stacey London and Clinton Kelly to unlock this hidden potential for women to shine truly as themselves. I was in love with the fact that a man could even do something like that. Clinton Kelly took everything that I loved about art as well, and applied it to the fashion he was choosing for his clients. I thought, “why couldn’t I do that, maybe not to others, but at least to myself.” I hid behind my shell for too long. I was tired of trying to be a wallflower...

I started to curate my own style and love of fashion. I re-watched every episode of “What Not To Wear,” bought style magazines, researched trend forecasts, took in everything that Clinton Kelly had said. I went shopping, tried on everything I could get my hands on. I started adopting a style I made into my own. I wore things that I never thought I would. I wasn’t trying to appear in any way that society had put onto me.

I was extremely uncomfortable at first, but I always remembered a quote Clinton Kelly had said in his book, “Freakin’ Fabulous”:

“And one more thing: Sometimes comfort doesn’t matter. When a shoe is freakin’ fabulous, it may be worth a subsequent day of misery. Soak in Epsom salts and take comfort in the fact that you’re better than everyone else.”

Maybe I wasn’t going around thinking that I was so entirely better than everyone else, but I felt so good about myself which is more than I can say for more than half of the people I know. I noticed that I started getting compliments more, people were telling me that I looked good and looked so much happier than before.

I felt like a queen. I was owning it.

It was in these new moments that I indeed began to feel “freakin’ fabulous.”