Friday, August 10, 2012


 wasn't going to share this outfit on my blog, because I considered it rather run-of-the-mill. But in its very common-ness, it reveals some astounding truths and brings up some very salient points. That's right, my humble black peacock getup has spawned another lingering monologue on the very nature of fashion! These little soliloquies are becoming so common that I've chosen to dignify them with a label: UnPhilosophy, a discussion of clothing trends and their sociological implications! I know you're excited.

Note also that this outfit makes me look
rather like a large, misshapen carrot
disguised as an emo guy.
Today's outfit is about as up to the minute, trend-wise, as my wardrobe will probably ever be. Note the profusion of peacock feathers (both on the shirt and on my ears)—peacock feathers being the past year's golden child of accessories. Note the sleeves, which are non-existent, consisting instead of armholes at the top of a big loose shirt, and the banded bottom hem—both of which being styles that rose to ascendancy within the past few years. Note the rather short, mostly tapered, pants, which are a the dress-pant equivalent of skinny jeans. Other than the peacock feathers (which I've always adored, especially as cat toys), every one of these styles kind of makes me cringe. So naturally, going to work feeling like the world's biggest sellout, I didn't want to publicize my shame.

And then came The Big Conversation. My coworker was in my office discussing a website design, when he burst out with, "Nice peacock feathers, by the way!" Now, before I go on, let me explain that I have become best friends with this coworker's wife vicariously through him. Apparently she and I are both vegetarians, both cat lovers, both afraid of getting too much sun, and now, I learn, both possessed of the same secretly subversive views on fashion! So, after commenting on my earrings, he noted that his wife had recently gotten a similar pair.

I explained, "Yeah, peacock feathers are the thing this year," and that started him off. He mentioned how his wife had also recently bought some of the dreaded skinny jeans, and after that, he started noticing that that's all anyone was wearing any more. He wondered how "girls always know to dress the same," and commented on how guys' styles have basically stayed the same forever, while girls' styles, well, haven't. His wife had to school him on the fact that, if you're a girl, it's basically unacceptable to wear styles that are a few years old. He also noted that his wife doesn't even like skinny jeans, yet was wearing them anyway. Partly, I'm sure, this is because of the immense pressure to be trendy, but I postulated aloud that it's also because the new styles of shirts don't look good with the old styles of pants, so if you buy anything new, you have to buy other new stuff to go with it. At least that's the problem I've been having.

This conversation made me wonder a few things:

1) Why is women's fashion changing so quickly? In the past, styles could be defined by whole eras (Victorian, for example), and later, by decades. Nowadays, fashions change drastically over just a few years. One article I read (I can't find it now) indicated that this rapid turnover is due to dirt-cheap clothing being churned out by mass-merchandisers—meaning, if everyone can afford new clothes all the time, they can afford to completely change their looks whenever they want. Of course, this is a terrible system, in that all our poorly-made clothes end up in the landfill after just a few wears, and the people in poor countries who make the clothes work endless hours with no holidays for such pitiful sums as seven dollars a month! It's enough to make me consider whether personal adornment on the cheap is really an admirable hobby.

2) Is my distaste for today's fashion more than just the stubbornness of a single, admittedly abnormal person? Apparently I'm not the only one who doesn't like skinny jeans, but both my coworker's wife and I are wearing them nonetheless, against our better judgment. Is this indicative of a larger phenomenon?

And the big question...Is fashion really just a load of poppycock? Does anyone really like skinny jeans? Do the people who wear skinny jeans proudly wear them because they think they look good, or do they grow to think they look good after seeing them everywhere?

What if everyone approached fashion with a more critical eye? Would this be a happier, more diverse, less wasteful world? Well, approaching fashion with a critical eye is what this blog's all about, so let's hope so!

1 comment:

  1. I HATE skinny jeans and won't ever wear them. I'm not tall enough to pull them off & I'm not gonna torture myself w/heels. I also felt pressured into wearing them since EVERYONE does but they just looked so stupid. I agree that current shirts don't go w/my beloved flares from the days of yore but I can't go any skinnier than a bootcut. I see skinny jeans & I remember weekends at Goodwill w/my parents. Pass!