Fashion Forward

I am the least-trendy person I know. The only attention I pay to fashion trends is when something pops up that I do not understand and there for absolutely hate. This year’s bared shoulder blouses is a perfect example. What the hell. I have enough trouble getting into my clothes early in the morning when it’s dark and I’m still sleepy without dealing with extra holes. Not happening. And skinny jeans ought to be destroyed. That trend has overstayed its welcome, and makes shopping for regular jeans a herculean task that ends in frustration every. damn. time. Even my tried and true Levi’s has succumbed to this fad. Yo, Levi’s: I weigh more than 86 pounds, thanks.

Zoe’s school recently held a book and toy drive to help the less fortunate, and we talked about participating. I reminded her to select a paper ornament off the tree in the middle school hallway and bring it home, so I would know what to buy and send back to school. I figured she’d bring home a snowflake that said “Harry Potter” or an angel that said, “Scrabble.” Easy peasy, right? Nope. She brought home a gingerbread man that said, “Trendy purse for 16-year-old.” I went into panic mode. First of all, it’s been a long time since I was 16. Pretty sure fashion trends have changed since 1989. And even if they hadn’t, I wasn’t trendy back then, either. Seriously…the girl couldn’t bring home Monopoly? I actually tried searching “trendy purse” on Amazon, but was so horrified by the results that I shut it down, and put out an emergency text to two trendy friends. They had good ideas, and I took the TJ Maxx advice and headed to the store. I picked out a leopard print backpack purse that was in my price range, and decided it had to be cute and trendy because I would never in a million years buy it for myself.

There has been some personal progress. My fashion sense has at least evolved past the point of, “I like this so I will buy it in every color.” This is a huge advance for me, because by not doing that I am forced to either continue shopping for other garments or go out shopping again reasonably soon. I’m still tempted to do it, but I restrain myself now, so I don’t look like a clone of myself every day of the week. This also helps in the retention department. I keep clothes way longer than most women (I have a few sweaters that I’d need to perform carbon dating analysis on to determine when I purchased them) and when they all look the same, I eventually get cranky. I am also trying to break this habit, because most women I know do not determine that their clothes are old by whether they have unwanted holes. It’s like I am a child of the Depression. “No holes…still fits…stains aren’t too noticeable…good to go!”

When I shop for clothes, which is rare, I go in with well-defined criteria: does it fit, is it remotely flattering (this may not even be a deal-breaker, unless it’s egregiously unflattering to where it’s an instant and visceral reaction in the dressing room vocalized by a lot of “oh no no no” accompanied by a desperate attempt to remove the offensive garment as fast as humanly possible), and most important: is it comfortable.

To date, I would classify my “personal style” as inoffensive and bland. I, by and large, choose my clothes for the day based on this criteria: it’s clean and on top in the drawer. If I could get away with a Steve Jobs style of jeans and black turtlenecks every single day, I’d do it. Although I hate turtlenecks now because no matter how loose the neck I feel like I’m being choked, plus with my new companion Mrs. Hotflash, it’s just not a viable option. So swap out the black turtleneck for a black t-shirt. Beautiful. (I have no less than five black t-shirts hanging in my closet right now.) I envy women who always look effortlessly put together, because even when I make an effort I don’t look as good as they do. This may have to do with the fact that they actually like to shop and take care to select their clothing past the criteria of “comfortability,” but whatever. I see them and I decide to not even try. Which only perpetuates the cycle. I tell myself that jeans, black t-shirt, and chunky silver beaded Tiffany necklace is an understated, classic look that never goes out of style.

NPR re-ran an interview with an author recently that I hadn’t heard before, which is revolutionizing how I’m evaluating my sartorial self. Elizabeth Cline wrote Overdressed: The Shockingly High Cost of Cheap Fashion, which addresses how destructive “fast fashion” and disposable clothing is to the environment. Retailers like H&M count on people to constantly pursue the newest fashion trends, purchasing whole wardrobes every season and discarding last season’s castoffs. The clothes aren’t well-made (which is how they’re sold so cheaply and how people can afford to turn over their closets quarterly), which results in garments that can neither be upcycled or recycled. Huge amounts of fiber waste are clogging the already-overflowing landfills.

The solution? Experts recommend investing in higher-quality clothing and keeping it longer. Which is exactly what I do.

Damn. Look at that! I might actually be trendy after all. I’ll call my newfound fashion sense: sustainability style. I may not look good, but I’m saving the planet. Boom.

Note: Today’s header photo is of my empty closet. We had some work done at the house that necessitated the removal of every single thing from our master closet. I am hard pressed to put anything back in there except jeans and black t-shirts.

#blog#daily life#fashion#observations#personal essay

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