What do you believe about fashion or style of clothing choices? For the most part conformity rules. The major options are all slight variations of the same thing. From the beginning we are given images of what goes with what. Paired sets of pants and shirts for toddlers.
This trend continues with manikins looking in (often headless and armless) judgment of consumers. “That doesn’t go with that.” “They’re all going to laugh at you.” They show us on their plastic frames that mock human shape what is an acceptable pairing of pants and shirt.
The slight variations available appease our need for control and choice but I wager it is more illusion than illuminating of individuality. Hell it’s cliched showing up to the same function as someone else wearing the same thing. The deal is we are all basically wearing the same thing. So what if we stop. What if we challenge our belief (and the beliefs of others) related to what we wear.
“When you don’t dress like everybody else, you don’t
have to think like everybody else” Iris Apfel
So let’s go visit your closet and take a look. Does it look pretty close to what your cohort wears? Mine to some degree does, but I wear things I feel stand out, at least for my region. Vests are uncommon and I wear vests. Seldom is a hat other than those with sports teams on them seen. I wear flat caps. My usual shirt is button up and about half of those are French cuffed. Not often seen except at weddings where the guys fumble with getting them fastened.
And then there are my socks. I have a variety of socks with different images or characters on them. These are a slight bit of non-conformity in a world of black or brown or athletic white. (Sometimes I don’t even try to match them up, having T-rexes on left and donuts on the right.) The majority of what I wear is simple, without ponies or swooshes or such, and if they do have such emblems it is because they fit best or served whatever purpose, not because of the brand.
There are plenty of ways for me to further break free, but by setting myself a bit apart by the way I look, I feel more confident about thinking apart as well. And for me I also get a boost to actually voice those different ideas.
There also seems to be a reciprocating effect, with the more I choose to be expressive in one realm the easier it is to be expressive in others.
One of the oddest experiences for me is when I wear pink. Yes I’m male, and yes it’s the midwest US here, and no it’s not a common color choice. Add it’s one of those French cuffed ones. I like the color, and it really is just one of many colors, but it garners a lot of attention. “Real men wear pink.” Still not really sure what is meant by that. What do fake men wear? Do I cease being real if I wear green? And what if a woman is wearing pink, does she become a real man at that point? (You may be asking, and yes I do sometimes wear it just to see how others respond. Chalk it up to being interested in the behaviors of other people.)
Now looking different may make it easier for others to dismiss my ideas, I don’t really know (there are certainly some dismissive glances sent my direction), but at least I am getting them out into the world and it means they may land on receptive ears and minds at some point.
So wear your prints and patterns and stripes and colors and ties and mismatched socks. Take on the world and wear whatever armor or banner you want. Revel in the odd looks and the freedom to think however you want.
I say wear what makes you braver and happier, more full of life and compassion, the items that help your world view be clearer. Maybe I’ll wear pink again tomorrow. (just so I can be real again)
Thanks as always,
With civility ~ Brian