Fashion doesn’t always come off the runway donned by a supermodel in extra small. Fashion can be what others find to be cool but that you find to be anything but. It’s simply what you wear and what you like.
When you walk into a boutique and select a piece of clothing, it will not always be a thoughtful process. Sometimes you’ll choose that piece of clothing because it is the first one you saw or it is the right price, or perhaps someone else asked you to try it on because they think that color will compliment your eyes. Sometimes you just want your clothes to make you feel good and it’s not about any trends or fashion statements. It’s about you, as it should be.
Fashion is meant to be customized to you, the wearer. No one understands that better than the urban young adult. As the chief momentum shifters of mainstream culture and peripheral subcultures at any particular time, fashion is just another playground for exploring one’s selfhood, a showcase of personality. One of the things about fashion as a creative process differentiating it from most other art forms is that it gives the wearer the tool to complete the process. We get to experiment and cultivate our own personal way of self-identifying publicly by wearing our clothes to make a statement and intimately by letting our clothes dictate our moods and feelings about ourselves. Any way we express it is fashion and there’s no such thing as anti-fashion.
Fashion is thus as personal as one makes it if one has the eye and passion for it. But it can also be just as impersonal. The design process is guided by rulebooks of what not to do and is in itself limited by sales goals for a majority of high retailers. You may be surprised to find out that much of what feels like your own personal sense of fashion is a product of advertising and other mediated content targeted to you. But that’s not to say you don’t have somewhat of an indirect say. You always do. Fashion is always personal.
Advertisers, designers, and editors know you all too well. They are the reason that shade of green-yellow which happens to be your favorite color, exists for you to buy in the first place. We may not all be fashion conscious but the market is. The great thing about it however, is that it is engineered to feel personal. You buy a purse with a designer’s name stamped on it who’s a complete stranger to you and somehow that purse can still reflect your own fashion taste or your ideals of luxury. When you’re picking clothes off a rack and you find your right size, it’s as if those clothes were meant for you. It’s as if you’re the one making the choice, deciding your own fashion taste when in fact it’s all been decided for you long before you knew you needed that shirt or those harem pants.
Margael St Juste, Hunter College ’15
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