Fashion doesn’t matter. Except when it does.
I say that because, from a purely pragmatic standpoint, fashion serves no purpose. Fashion isn’t real. We made it up. It’s all in our heads.
Clothes serve a purpose, obviously. Unlike most mammals, we don't have a substantial amount of hair covering our whole bodies. That, presumably, got to be a bit of a drag to those of us living in harsher environments, so we decided to start wrapping ourselves up in the hides of other, more insulated animals.
Humans are weird.
Then we started to get even weirder because some of us decided to start dying our hides with beetle guts and indigo-tainted water, and adding all sorts of bones and adornments to the fringes of our hides. That made our peers like us more, and made us more attractive to mates. And we saw that it was good.
So we started making up rules: Don’t wear black hides with blue hides. Make sure your waist strap matches your foot hides (and your hide pouch!). Don’t wear white hides after the third full moon of the sunny season.
At least, I assume that’s generally what happened. I wasn’t there.
The point is, fashion is really, really weird, and people who obsess over it are weird too. But, for better or worse, it has become a major social signifier.
Let’s not kid ourselves. We all know the game. Whether you’re a chic, modern, millennial yuccie or a sporty bro sporting a backwards hat, cut-off tee, athletic shorts and Nikes, you all care about what you wear. You use fashion to convey the traits you want to convey. Fashion is a shorthand for the narratives we create about ourselves.
So, my philosophy is this: Don’t worry too much about it. No one’s paying that much attention to what you’re wearing. Of course, they’re judging you for it, but not consciously. Those judgements are just subconscious biases influenced by years of psychological conditioning. What a relief, am I right?
That’s why I generally try to dress nicely, but I’m not going to push it. I want my clothes to be fashionable enough that, after meeting me, people will say “I’m not sure why, but I like that Will Perkins fellow. I’d like to be friends with that fine man.” I don’t, however, want my clothes to be so fashionable that everyone turns to look at me when I walk in the room. How unnerving.
Besides, if your personality is completely defined by the fact that you wear nice clothes, there’s probably not much of a person beneath those clothes.
No, I’d rather fly just under the radar with my innocuous, plain, navy-blue checkered button-up and take solace in the thought that I look unremarkably adequate.
William T. Perkins is a senior studying journalism at Ohio University. How do you feel about fashion? Let William know by emailing him at firstname.lastname@example.org.