Saturday, October 6, 2012

the why behind the fashion

I could try to write this post from lots of different perspectives, but I'm gonna try to mostly just write it from mine. What is fashion, and why do I care about it?

It dawned on me the other day in the target clearance clothing section as I browsed (as much as that is possible with two energetic little boys along) and quickly mentally noted whether things were "me" or not... I like clothes because they represent a piece of me. A first impression of who I am, what I like, my taste, my style.

Getting dressed can be an art form all its own. Putting pieces, colors, textures, patterns together, accessorizing... it can feel like painting, or sketching or decorating. Maybe this is just the artist in me, and some people don't feel that way. But whether or not you have fun assembling an outfit, mixing and matching pieces, or trying the same piece lots of different ways, we all say something with our clothing.

Maybe you wear your favorite team's paraphernalia, and everyone knows you are into sports. Maybe you work at a job that requires professional attire, and you tend to dress that way all the time to put forth a competent, mature, responsible image. Maybe you are from the south and you love your cowgirl boots, and they represent a part of your heritage. Maybe you are super into music, and depending on the genre, you dress a little punk or a little artsy, or a little conservative. Maybe you are a mom like me, and on your days at home, you choose comfort over style hands down. (as I sit here in a black nursing tank and navy blue shorts with hair in a bun and no make-up...) Maybe you work retail and have a certain style dress code for that store. Maybe there is someone you admire whose style inspires you, maybe you have a favorite store and most of your wardrobe is made up of their items. Maybe you have a lot of money and you wear expensive jewelry and only name brand clothing. Maybe you want people to think you have a lot of money and wear expensive jewelry and only name brand clothing. The list goes on. But regardless, what we wear says something. It speaks. We wear dark clothing to funerals out of a sense mourning and sensitivity. We wear our best to weddings. What's acceptable at the beach might not be acceptable at church. Professional attire has a whole list of guidelines. On and on.

Fashion isn't just an American or European concept. African tribes decorate and adorn and create, think silk in Asia, think turbans in the middle east, think cultural pieces, sombreros, wooden shoes, veils, do rags, hemp, nose rings..... It's as old as time. We long to express ourselves. We long for identity, whether is cultural, counter-cultural, sub-cultural or personal. We have an innate desire to create, to be seen, to leave a mark, to be part of a group or to be an original, and one of the most basic ways this comes out is in our dress.

To me, it's not about money at all. It's about an expression of who you are. I went to a consignment sale the other day and came home with two dresses, a pair of pants, a sweater and a purse for $7. You can do all your shopping at thrift stores or Goodwill. You can hand make your own clothing. You can shop solely in clearance sections or with coupons. You can style your hair different ways or make jewelry out of seashells (used to do this all the time in high school). You can budget and stay within your means. The point is, it doesn't have to cost much at all to have fun with fashion. As with anything, it can swing out of balance and become an obsession.

Here's the irony though. What should be fun and an expression of self that can be appreciated and enjoyed by all often turns into a standard of judgment. "Did you see her in that..." "Did she really just wear those two things together?" "How much do you think she spent on..." Even as I wrote this post I could've been guilty of that.

Let's appreciate each other for who we are, and instead of stopping at the first layer of our impression of what we see, let's go deeper and get to know them on a more personal level. It's awfully hard to judge someone when you're at a heart to heart level with them.

Your style and uniqueness is beautiful. Don't ever be ashamed or embarrassed to embrace it. Try something new today and smile. :)

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