Fashion: Why Does it Matter Anyway?

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fashion is stupid

There are people dying and I’m spending my days writing about fashion. How pointless, how superficial and materialist. Come on, clothes are clothes. Why does it matter anyway?

It matters because we have a choice. You can buy a stiff cotton tee shirt with Las Vegas written on the front, buy a plain white men's undershirt, or a soft jersey tee that flatters your figure and is in the perfect shade. You can purchase a hooded sweatshirt three sizes larger than your frame or for the same money purchase a tailored wool sweater that will keep you just as warm. Yes, people are dying on this planet, but we all need clothes and if you are reading this blog, this means you have at least a touch of privilege and have choices.

So why not make a choice that flatters your figure, showcases your personality, and provides the world with an accurate depiction of your soul?

You have to wear clothing, might as well make it clothing that makes you look and feel good.

Sweatpants feel good in the same way Kraft mac and cheese feels good. Both are warm, cozy, comforting, and great when on the couch watching The New Girl. But that isn’t the same good that you feel after eating a well-made, well-seasoned meal of fresh vegetables, lean protein, and quality ingredients. Your body deserves good fuel, and deserves to be wrapped in good clothing.

Respect your ability to make a choice, and a choice can be made at most any pricepoint. Be it Saks or Walmart, there are choices, and your body and personality deserve the best choice.

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A woman with curly hair wearing a plaid blazer holds a green fur coat over her shoulder on a city street.

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  1. I am new to your blog and am loving this post! I always feel so guilty spending money on clothes or accessories and it’s good to remember that feeling good, inside and out, is important.

  2. Thank you. I’m sick of people thinking I’m frivolous or less intelligent just because I also happen to care about how I clothe myself.

  3. PREACH! I always get comments about how superficial fashion is. I tell them we all have to wear clothes so I’d rather wear fun clothes that fit me and I feel good in. I will never own sweatpants!

  4. THANK YOU! Like it or not, first impressions matter and what you wear and how you present yourself is a direct reflection of how you feel about yourself. It’s not about having tons of money or being superficial and shopping all the time, its about making smart choices and working with what you have.

  5. Great post! For the unbelievers out there they should read the book “The Thoughtful Dresser” by Linda Grant. The book is about the importance of style and how we dress and she uses examples of women in difficult situations (like concentration camps) who do their hair and tailor their clothes to try to feel more feminine and beautiful and to have a sense of control in a difficult situation. Here is a quote from the book:
    “I don’t believe people who tell me that they are not interested in clothes or what they wear. I think they mean that they are not interested in fashion…They look for comfort and a reasonable fit in the clothes they buy, and that will do. But such an attitude lies on the surface. There is something shallow about asserting you don’t care what you look like. Because in your heart of hearts you know that isn’t true. People what to look the best they can. They may not know how…, they may might be frightened of the expense…But it is simply untrue to say that if you take the average woman …and wave a magic wand… and put her in a dress that makes her look beautiful, or a pair of jeans that fits perfectly, she will react with indifference.”

  6. I totally agree that it’s nice to wear clothing that makes you look and feel good! Where I disagree is that the soft jersey tee, or the tailored wool sweater–or any other particular item/style of clothing–is inherently a better choice for everyone. I disagree that if someone is dressed in a way you find unappealing, it’s automatically not an accurate depiction of their soul.

    Maybe a woman wants to wear the men’s undershirt because she’s playing around with gender roles, or the Las Vegas shirt as a memento of her trip there. Maybe she wants to wear the big hoodie because it’s just so much for comfortable than an itchy wool sweater.

    Or maybe it just fits her style better. Personally, I’m a big fan of hoodies, especially with characters like Rainbow Brite or My Little Pony. And wool makes me itch, although my dad loves it–which just goes to show that everyone has different clothing needs. I do also enjoy fitted cardigans and sweaters, but that doesn’t mean I think everyone has to.

    The food analogy is interesting, but falls apart to me on multiple levels.

    1.) Different people have different dietary needs. And even the same person has different needs at different times. Sometimes, mac n’ cheese *is* the good fuel your body needs. Sometimes, lean protein isn’t. For example, if it’s the end of your cycle, you might choose beef over chicken because the latter has more iron, even if you eat chicken the rest of the month. For a few more examples of why it’s problematic to divided food into good vs. bad, I recommend these comments, and pretty much everything ever written by the Fat Nutritionist.

    2.) Just like I don’t believe in good vs. bad food, I don’t believe in good vs. bad clothing. I’m all for talking about what makes me feel good, but I’m also all for respecting other people’s choices, even if they’re not the ones I would make.

    3.)Those of us who read fashion blogs are indeed privileged in some ways–but not necessarily as many as you might think. And finding clothing you like *isn’t* necessarily easy at all price points, especially when you take into account size, disability, and many other factors. I recommend this post for some examples of the obstacles people face while looking for clothing.

    Sorry this comment is so long–I hope it gave you some good food for thought! As you can see, this is something I get a bit worked up about. 🙂

    1. I usually lurk by Google Reader but I liked this post so much I came over here to comment. And then I saw your comment.

      First, I think she was giving examples, not telling every woman to buy a wool sweater. If you read any other post on this blog expecially the True Fashionista ones you can tell Allie doesn’t expect us to all wear the same.

      As for the dietary needs, there is no time when artificial colors and flavors are what your body needs and anyway I don’t think Allie is trying to tell people what to eat.

      You have a computer, you’re able to use it to read and comment on blogs, you’re priveledged. I’m a size 24 and wear special orthotics so shopping isn’t a walk in the park for me but there are still options out there.

      Sorry my comment is so long, you just had me worked up too. Brava Allie, another great post, thank you for helping me understnad fashion and see that I too can enjoy it!

      1. Thanks for your comment. It seems like we read the post a bit differently!

        I do usually like Alison’s fashion advice, and I don’t think she was saying every woman should buy a wool sweater. But she did seem to be privileging certain types of clothing over others–tailored over baggy, dressy over casual. And I’m not ok with that.

        I also don’t think she’s directly telling people what to eat. It’s not like she said, “Don’t ever eat mac n’ cheese.” (Which is a good thing, because mac n’ cheese is awesome.) But I question the assumption that Kraft mac n’ cheese, or wearing sweatpants, aren’t things that necessarily make people feel good. I question the assumption that dressing in a fancier or more feminine matter is a more accurate representation of a woman’s personality, as she seems to be implying.

        Having a computer and internet access, and the time to read blogs, is definitely a privilege. I never said it wasn’t. But even among blog-readers and writers, there are varying levels of privilege in all sorts of ways. I usually wear somewhere between a size 18-22, and I have a relatively easy time finding clothes that fit me. But I’ve heard from many larger plus size women, especially those who wear above a 24 or 26, that it can be exceptionally hard to find clothing, especially if they can’t afford to pay for shipping. And there are people like my blog friend Tori, who wears yoga pants most of the time due to a combination of disability issues, access, and affordability.

        My point is, the “best choice” for an individual may not always be the item that looks the fanciest, or the most tailored, or the most body-hugging. The best choice may indeed be sweatpants, for any number of reasons! And while it’s great to encourage people to play with style and try new things, I don’t think that should come from a place of making general assumptions about the usefulness/feel-good-ness of various items (e.g. “I feel this way about the symbolic meaning of sweatpants, therefore you should too.)

  7. I think there are heaps of reasons that fashion matters – self expression/ self respect/ having some control over how you present yourself and how others respond to you… plus I’m all about buying less but making sure everything I buy is just right. It’s better for the budget and the planet and makes me feel better.

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