In view of the president’s state of the union address, our nation is facing a crisis. It is a crisis of apathy on all fronts really- warfare, elections, healthcare, unemployment and yes, even fashion. We all have our areas of expertise. I will not pretend to be a political or social expert and waste your time with my trivial opinion on the state of the nation with regard to these important areas. I am a fashion editor and therefore my focus will be on the crisis of apathy towards one’s personal style. This is one of the few things we have direct and immediate control over and yet it is being shamelessly neglected by a good majority of the people. The fashion that I am writing about is not the outfits you find on the Parisian catwalks, rather it’s the clothes you wear every day. The thing that most people fail to realize is that fashion is a reflection of who you are on the inside. Just as your feelings are an indicator of your internal environment, your fashion also speaks volumes on how you see yourself and how the world sees you as well. The context for your fashion choice is also essential. For example, if fashion could speak on your behalf, what would an old flannel shirt, shorts and dingy sneakers say? If you were wearing them to go hiking or to do some garden work, it would say, ‘I enjoy the outdoors and being around nature’- perfectly acceptable. But if you wore that same outfit to a fine restaurant, it would state (in a low and depressing voice), ‘Deep down I’m ashamed of how I look. Maybe if I pretend that I don’t care about how I look, people will think it’s cool. I’ll make up for it with my wit and sparkling personality.’
I am not talking about wearing Dolce or Armani. What you wear is a personal statement that reveals your uniqueness and creativity and has nothing to do with expensive brand names. Good taste and impeccable style are gifts that we each hold. Somewhere along the line, we have built apathy towards our outer appearance believing for some God forsaken reason that it does not matter. You dressed up for that job interview and, once hired, dressed up for the first few days of work. Through fashion, you told your work peers that you were sharp, on it and completely put together. Then you became more complacent about your appearance, eventually wearing wrinkled, mismatched clothes thinking no one would notice. Business attire turned casual until one day, and every day after, you started bringing that big, comfy, ugly sweater to the office. Your fashion is now screaming, ‘I don’t give a flying duck (spelling auto-correct) about work. Put me out of my misery and fire me already.’ Another example: You finally found someone that you are really into. You take your time getting ready for the first date, picking the perfect outfit. Maybe you went shopping for new clothes or shoes or maybe you took your favorite outfit to the cleaners. Whatever the case, you made sure your outfit said loud and clear, ‘I am hot. If you choose to be with me out of the millions of other people out there, you won’t ever look back baby.’ Flash forward a year later when you seem to live in t-shirts and sweats and your partner can’t even remember the last time you got dressed up. Your clothes, and you yourself are saying, ‘Things have become routine, boring and stagnant. Maybe we should take a break from each other for a little while…’
Do the clothes make the man or does the man make the clothes? Maybe it is a ‘which came first, the chicken or the egg’ kind of question, in which case, who really gives a ship (spelling auto-correct). What matters is that they are definitely related. It is time to choose the clothes that are an exact representation of who you want to be; correction, of who you really are. Why? For the sake of career advancement and opportunity, for the sake of a long and stimulating relationship, for the sake of your child who dies of embarrassment every time you pick him up from school, and so that arrogant Maître D will stop giving you that beady eyed glare already.
Now that I have given you the ‘why,’ it is time to start listing the ‘how.’
1. Take an hour to look through your closet. Your closet is where you house the clothes that you have collected over the years, some you currently wear, some you would not be caught dead in now, and others that just do not really speak to you anymore. It is time to turn your closet into a functioning wardrobe. Separate the clothes that know you will never wear anymore and donate them. I do not think I need to tell you to throw away any shirts, socks or underwear with stains or holes on them, but just in case. TMI, I know.
2. Now that you have pared down your clothes some, perhaps you will need to shop for a few items to complete your wardrobe. Have fun shopping and do not rush the experience. Let the pieces call to you. Avoid the sales racks or online shopping at this time because you will just be setting yourself up for acquiring a so-so article of clothing that will go to the donation pile in the near future.
3. Wear clothes that give you confidence. Nothing says more confidence than clothes that fit perfectly. Find the right size so it is not too tight or loose and that it is the perfect length- right below the ankle for pants and right below the hip for suit jackets. For shirts and blazers, make sure that the shoulder measurements are correct. If needed, find a good, inexpensive tailor to make the necessary adjustments. Note: The cost of tailoring the outfit should not be more than the outfit itself.
4. Do not be afraid to be daring and original. As long as the end style is a true reflection of who you really are, feel free to diverge from what is trending now. Like Macklemore said in his Thrift Shop song, do not be one of those dozen people at a party who pays fifty dollars for the same damn t-shirt. Choose the clothes that you want to wear and put your own personal swag into it. By swag, I do not mean ‘silly wild ass guess.’ While it is difficult to describe, it definitely embodies style, confidence and a willingness to be different and you just know it when you see it. I typed in the search word ‘swag’ and came across this link to Millennium, a music group: www.WhoIsMillennium.com/photo. After checking out their photos, well, let’s just say you get a sense of just how adventurous personal fashion can get. It is important to note that your personal style may change over time. That is okay because it means that you are changing and growing as well and that is a good thing.
It is time to collectively shake off the sweats and the mounting lethargy. To go from a country of stagnation to Swag-Nation. To begin to know in our hearts that we can change the world for the better, one article of clothing at a time. Once our personal truths are no longer suppressed but reflected in our style, we may be better equipped, not to mention better dressed, to tackle our nation’s issues.