Thought Catalog

The Weird Thing About Fashion

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Fashion is weird. Think about it. Everything’s always in this vague flux of being chic, then not chic, then suddenly chic again, like it ever really goes anywhere except the back of the line, only to come back up front, reinvented. It’s not like we have a whole lot to work with when it comes to clothes, we just recreate old ideas and make them somehow new again.

Which is pretty cool, I think; the extent to which we can be creative with a limited amount of material. And of course, I think the way we design and assemble our clothes has the potential to speak volumes about who we are, but I also think the look we project has to do with way more than the clothes: it’s not about what we wear per se, but how we carry ourselves. The attitudes we put forth. How comfortable we are in our wrappings. It’s about how we wear our clothes, instead of the other way around.

That said, judging people based on their clothes is silly. Sure, you may not particularly like something a person is wearing and could never picture wearing it yourself, but that doesn’t make it completely and objectively bad. Maybe you just don’t get it. Maybe you’re sitting there judging a bigger girl for wearing horizontal stripes thinking she doesn’t know how to dress for her figure, when in reality she’s intentionally doing a form of “fat drag” — wearing horizontal stripes tongue-in-cheek, precisely because she “shouldn’t.” You don’t know. Sometimes getting dressed is about more than the clothes.

Last week, I experienced a first — a first to-my-face criticism (instead of behind my back, as is customary of most normal humans) of my outfit. And by “criticism” I mean, someone who was a recent acquaintance said something along the lines of “I hate that top. I hate your whole outfit. And the skirt is heinous, where did you even buy that?!” Just like that, in all seriousness, like NBD.

I was wearing black.

I stomped out my cigarette, raised an eyebrow and looked at her. Powder blue blazer that arched up at the shoulders with the ghosts of clumsily removed shoulder pads. White newsboy short shorts, cuffed and puffing out weirdly like a medieval cleric’s. Gold chains layered “ironically” over her little brother’s wife beater. Thick frameless piano teacher-esque reading glasses, the type my grandma wore in the 80s before swapping both them and the gold chain they hung from for a sleeker black-framed pair.

And then, to add insult to injury, she added, “I could dress you so much cuter.”

At that point I stifled a laugh, realizing how stupid I was for even feeling offended. Cuter by whose standards, exactly? I gave her outfit the once over again and tried to imagine myself encasing nearly translucent thighs, so white you can see the veins, inside even whiter puffy shorts, hanging gold gumball-machine necklaces around my neck one after the other with a straight face. Seriously deliberating over which pair of fake glasses to buy that would make my face look more interesting.

No, screw that. I didn’t spend all those years as an insecure adolescent growing into who I am just to try to be someone else all over again, all because someone thinks black on black is a bad choice. (Black on black is never a bad choice, by the way.)

The thing about fashion is that it’s never really about the clothes.

You can just as well have someone looking like a tasteless mess in head-to-toe Dior as someone sparkling and confident outfitted in little more than an artfully-gathered trash bag. After all, it’s not about the fabric but the person inside it, and like with everything else, whoever appreciates the ensemble will appreciate it, and whoever won’t, won’t. And who really cares, when you think about it? Clothes come off. It’s not that deep. TC Mark

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  • http://twitter.com/thinksabrina Sabrina

    Say it sister!!! Everyone has a sense of style, whether you are aware of it or not. I do believe your style gives off a vibe right from the start, after all we are visual creatures. So why not chose to wear something more exciting and aesthetically pleasing? That being said, you hit the spot with the conclusion that not everyone sees things in the same way.
    Personally, I like to implement something a edgy/ a bit crazy into my wardrobe every day. It keeps things exciting.
    I also truly believe your outfit can brighten up your mood. Keep an open mind! You’d be surprised.

  • http://fashionthatpays.wordpress.com dapperdolly

    Very well written and I agree with you.

    As for your friend’s comment – wow, ouch. But at best, at least it was from someone you know and like – I usually get insulted 2-3 times a week by random people outside who usually hate my hair. It offends them so much that they feel the need to try and hurt a total stranger and tell them how ugly they are. The world is full of superficial pricks – thank goodness there’s some of us left who know there’s more important things to judge a person’s character or even their looks/style on.

    I love the last two sentences – short yet to the point and true. The important things about clothing are mainly ignored, like where/how they are produced, what purpose they have, how they are cared for and how they can be re-used/loved.

  • Tiffany

    i actually like this. i love everything that has to do with fashion. i’m one of those girls that likes to keep up with all the runway shows & subscribes to vogue. beneath the whole superficial, “what’s hot, what’s not” layer of fashion, it doesn’t really matter if or when something is “in”. true fashion aficionados never pay attention to that. it’s all about wearing whatever your heart desires & pulling it off in a way that makes everyone turn heads (& that’s not in a bad way either). if you’re really successful, even opening up people’s minds to new ways of dressing, instead of shunning what doesn’t “look” good.

  • Gilly

    There are times when I put on one of those things that I should not (see comment about horizontal stripes). These decisions are usually inspired by a negative comment I have heard at some point in the past and are executed with a mental nod to the person who inspired it: “this is for you.” If you can’t occasionally have fun with your outfit, what is the point?

  • Alison

    Awesome article. I always say, “Wear the clothes, don’t let them wear you.”

  • nathaliew817

    I don’t get people making bad comments on someone’s outfit. Everyone has a mirror right? And they put effort in choosing their clothes for the day, putting them on, checking in the mirror and adjusting them.

    But I do want to say: you can’t choose your looks, but you can choose your outfit, so I think your style does reflect who you are as a person. Or at least how you want people to see ou.

  • Cc

    Enjoyed reading this.

  • Kate

    Who even does something like that? If someone said that to me I would literally just walk away because they’re obviously a hideous, shallow person with no character whatsoever.

  • lt

    hallelujah! fashion should never be taken too seriously.

  • http://alingala.wordpress.com alingala

    I’m a fashion design major, and I love this.

    Most people think about fashion and immediately equate it with superficiality, excessive shopping, fake plastic girls, trends that change every month, and overall stupidity. And all of that is, really, stupidity.

    But people who really enjoy fashion, who really love it and are fascinated by it, it’s so much more than that. It’s not about brands and trends at all. It’s about confidence and personality using fashion to both develop and express both those things. It’s about history and art and culture. It’s about knowing exactly what you like and dislike regardless of what’s trendy and dressing to please yourself rather than others.

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  • Thought Catalog

    Reblogged this on nothingworthhavingcomeseasy and commented:
    A very good explanation of what the definition of the word FASHION is.<3

  • http://kelcispiggybank.wordpress.com munchkinnnn

    Reblogged this on My Piggy Bank.

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