February 12, 2008

'Fashion Is Made To Become Unfashionable'

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Most people, whether they are fashion conscious or simply interested in their appearance, are generally pleased with the way they look when they go out during the day or at night. So how is it that when we look at old photographs or clean out our closets we are often horrified by the items that we have worn?
Cleaning out one’s closet can be likened to having a bit too much to drink, hitting on some seemingly adorable guy/girl and going home with them only to wake up in the morning, shocked by how atrocious this guy/girl really is. It takes the wisdom of time (sobering up) to realize our mistakes.
Although many college students may shop for mates while under the influence, most of us shop for our wardrobes while sober. There are no “beer goggles” distorting our view of the items that we try on and purchase. So how could an item that looks so great one season be so scary the next?
According to Coco Chanel, “fashion is made to become unfashionable.” By virtue of being in style, a look must eventually be out of style. Fashions change rapidly so outfits that would have been trendy one year are outdated or even embarrassing just a few seasons or years later. This especially applies to popular trends that are worn excessively, resulting in a fashion overdose. The older an item is, or the older a photograph is, the scarier it may appear today. Honestly, who thought that shoulder pads, scrunchies or unitards (just to name a few) were fashions worth imitating?
Many trends do come back in style years, decades or even centuries after their first appearance. However, just because you have an item that is back in style does not mean that the original is trendy or should even be worn. Often when a look returns to the fashion scene it has somehow transformed from its initial version into a more current interpretation.
Cut, colors, shapes, fits and other details differ between trends. Sometimes old items are just not meant to be worn. Other times old items should be reworn or resold; this especially applies to vintage designer items, such as handbags or sunglasses.
As much as I love seasonal and trendy items, it is unfortunate how much clothing really goes to waste as men and women continually buy up-to-the-minute wardrobes, discarding last season’s duds. There must be a point where consumers can look trendy while still getting their money’s worth out of older items. It is advantageous to buy items that are both trendy and classic so that they can be worn as much as possible. With so much waste in our society and a popular progression towards all things environmentally friendly, we should apply the same reduce/reuse/recycle techniques to our wardrobes.
Television shows like TLC’s What Not to Wear encourage participants to throw out their unstylish items and spend the allotted $5,000 in purchasing a new, fashionable and flattering wardrobe. But what happens to the trash cans full of clothes? Presumably they are donated; one person’s trash, however revolting, may be another person’s treasure. But how is it that clothes deemed too horrific for one average person should be sold second-hand to another average person?
Everyone has the right to be well-dressed, regardless of their income, body type, occupation or religion. Thomas Jefferson, one of our finest founding fathers, would probably agree that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of a fashionable wardrobe. But we should be able to maintain our fashionable lifestyles without consuming cotton, wool, leather and assorted mystery fabrics to the point of excess or even waste.
Although many of us think that we are looking pretty stylish this season, we will most likely look back in horror at our assortment of tight pants, long tops and bold patterns. So be more selective with your wardrobe than you are with your “insignificant other” when you leave your Collegetown bar of choice at 1 a.m.