Identity and fashion

I don’t remember exactly when, but some time in middle school (probably 6th grade) I realized that I might want to actually decide what clothing I wore. Like many boys my age, it had never crossed my mind as a decision of any consequence. It was one of those phenomenons that all of the sudden becomes important yet seems like it has always been important. Whereas a year before my friends and I were getting dirty on playgrounds in our ubiquitous tennis shoes, I now noticed my friend Kyle was sporting a mismatched pair of long-flat-skinny-clown-like-but-somehow-cool shoes with a star on the side. My initial thought of these shoes being clown-like was rethought as a third of the people in my home-room class came to own a pair of Chucks. These shoes were cool. Why? Well, because they’re sort of goofy, but people wearing them weren’t dorks… but they weren’t jocks or preps or whatever either… they were the fun people, the people I considered friends or wanted to become friends with. And if you chose to wear Chucks, you were stating something. The bold green and red fabric of the shoe meant a bold personality, a trailblazer, an original that wasn’t too cool for the semi-geeky style. You didn’t have to play sports, have a lot of money or whatever else to be cool in these shoes.

…Such my adolescent thought went. As touchy-feely as these hormone driven ideas that started to gestate in my mind at this time were, they had incredible emotional weight at the time and continue to manifest themselves (albeit in other forms) to this day. I think of the scene in White Teeth where Irie goes to get her hair straitened because she wants to go for a certain look and we see the haircut shop is filled with older women with the same desires. Whether we make the effort or not to act upon these thoughts, we are all aware that, ultimately, we have the power to wear/ do what we want with our body and as some historical figure or superhero said (I forgot which or maybe neither), with power comes great responsibility. As with every facet of daily lives that we have control over, we have ultimate responsibility of ourselves, including what we wear. Even for the most non-descript dresser, the cloths we wear or any other aesthetic decision we make concerning our own bodies (earrings, makeup, hairdo, tattoos) can and will be judged by other people. Even a person who is not wearing anything distinctive may be said to embody an aesthetic of indistinctness. GQ model or math nerd, every individual is identified in part by the fashion decisions he or she makes. For better or for worse, it is part of an identity.

-john

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~ by johnsaba on April 19, 2010.

4 Responses to “Identity and fashion”

  1. I love this blog, and I especially love that a male wrote it since it is about fashion.
    I, as a female, struggle with the truth of your ideas about fashion and identity presented in your blog every day. I want to look nice but not too nice and express myself, but not be a crazy stand-out in the crowd. It’s tough finding your place.
    Fashion is definitely a large part of one’s identity, and sometimes I just plain hate it because of that.

  2. I loved the blog John. It is really something that I have thought about before. Sometimes a way we choose not to dress says as much about our perception of self as does when we go out of our way to dress a certain way. I hope that made sense. If someone does not dress to keep up with the rise and fall of certain fashions this can say something about the person. I think I fall somewhere in the middle, which might mean I do not have the best fashion sense, or else that I don’t have the time to keep up. Either way it at least says something.

  3. I really enjoyed this blog as well. Similarly to a comment posted above, I really enjoyed the fact that a guy wrote about fashion. The scene with Irie really stuck out to me as well and I thought this was an impressive comparison of yourself with the book.

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