With summer approaching and a couple of very nice and warm spring days thus far, people around the neighborhood cease to hide their latest outfits under bulky winter coats and coverings. That means we will be exposed once again to the variety of fashion statements that color this city.
What statement are you making with your threads? Or perhaps you don’t really care and clothing for you has the mere functional purpose of covering yourself and protecting you from the elements. Most people probably do care and among those I recognize three broad groups:
- Front Fashion Fighters are ahead of the game and combine colors, articles, and accessories in combinations not seen before, sometimes extravagant but always paving the way for the next fashion trend.
- Basic Brand Borrowers: are following the latest trend and basically wear what everyone else is wearing as long as it is in. Conformity to a certain homogeneous group is key here.
- Lazy Laundry Lovers: Lets see what I have in my closet or damn I threw this in the laundry basket, but I guess I can wear it another day. Their day to day attire picks are determined by what is readily available and it does not require much effort.
What category do you fall into? Or am I stereotyping here and do most people possess a combination of the attributes as described? And are there differences in the way society views you if you belong to one versus the other category? Does it in a way determine how successful you are in life?
Look at these loaded questions, I love it! I think I fall somewhere between the Basic Brand Borrowers and the Lazy Laundry Lovers–with closeted inclinations to the Front Fashion Fighters. Some of the clothes I own, I’ve had for at least 7 years. It’s said that you can tell a lot about a person by what they wear, but it’s also true that fashion can be used to mask a person’s true identity.
My theory on the principle of fashion is that it is a tool for division, and the more we define ourselves fashionably, the more we lose ourselves. Some would argue that fashion is a perfect opportunity to exercise individuality and freedom of expression. I agree with that only because I am a prisoner to the idea. In society, we force each other to live by the rule of what to wear and what you are saying when you wear it.
For instance, it has become such a learned routine to judge someone with having bad taste or breaking golden rules if they choose to, for instance, pair a brown shoe with a black shoe. Now, to add to this point, that judgement could be reversed if this were an intentional design by a highly respect brand designer or company of high esteem and quality. This proves my point about fashion being a mere tool of judgmental perspectives.
And that brings us to the main topic of our column (not really since it’s almost too sad too mention): The Male Romper. You’ve seen those memes about the male romper? Basically ridiculing men that wear jumpers with short legs. Mainly because supposedly it is too “gay” for a man to wear such attire. I will let the following memes speak for themselves and hope the topic can be put to rest.
Why can’t we just let people wear what they want to wear, as long as you are not wearing a shirt with a swastika stitched on the back or pants that have your genitalia hang out.
Yes, indeed! I’ve witnessed people’s self-esteem been torn to shreds in the name of fashion. Fashion is many things, but it is primarily society’s mask to shield our judgements of ourselves (a.k.a insecurities). Think about it, we define so many things in life by visually representation. At this point, most of us instinctively judge ourselves and each other using clothing as a basic tool of undertaking. It is glorified and measured by the means of wealth, entertainment, and ego, to name a few.
To be clear, this does not pertain to the instances where it is used to uplift the human condition and the health of our world. The idea of fashion, however, is a vain one. Clothing is a human necessity for several purposes (climate, religion, and that’s about it), yet fashion is clothing’s wicked stepbrother that broke its leg backstage and stole the show.
Although fashion also had a positive impact on religious clothing. Take for example the muslim hijab. Nowadays women can choose among many styles and prints that are both trendy and still modest if that is the preferred way of expression:
But let’s back up, because it’s such a broad subject once we realize that. There are so many angles of conversation when it comes to fashion. So I’ll hone it with to how I choose to present myself using fashion. In my case, the fashion choices I make represent some of my core characteristics, but they also hide the part of my identity that I choose to protect from a judgmental society–a society that I myself participate in.
Solids are my thing, and mostly I lean towards casual wear (and dress wear when required). It’s a direct reflection of how I show up in the world. I’m pretty firm in my decisions, and you know what you’re getting when you deal with me, because change makes me depressed and uncomfortable. that does not make me any more noticeable than I already don’t want to be. Even with that intent, I’m making a fashion statement, and it’s pretty clear by my attire what I’m going for.
Yes, I recognize that in myself. My attempts at presenting my personality through fashion result in just above basic shirts and pants for a work day — sometimes an interesting color choice or a combination that is just not too boring. On weekends I trendy it up a little bit with cool t-shirts for example. And using accessories that are slightly eye catching.
Now that I think of it, my fashion is really only covering my true identity screaming to get out. I have always struggled with being expressive and I’m too modest for my own good. In my fashion I give subtle hints, but hardly ever do I fully give in to full self-expression. Something to work on!
Interesting point which only underscores that fashion has so many complex intents and social functions that you can only really make assumptions about someone based on what they choose to wear.
And by the time you get to know someone, you suddenly realize that you were so off on your assumptions based on what he or she was wearing the first time you met. I’ve had that experience many times. For example I can recall an instance when I was assisting a customer in a job I held way back. He looked somewhat disheveled and was wearing very basic and out of fashion threads. I assumed this man did not have too much money to spend on the merchandise. Was I wrong! He basically bought the store and paid with a Black MasterCard.
For the most part, fashion plays a complex role in our perception of social status and economical status. It’s funny, no matter what we wear, we are making an intentional statement, because of the fact that we choose to abide by social norms and legal laws before presenting ourselves to the world.
So in sum, we all adhere in some way, but let’s celebrate the people that chose to express themselves and want to make a change through the ways they present themselves and let’s not judge them too hard.
~Krystal & Yako
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