Clothes Are Clothes: Dress For Yourself

By Henry Wallace (graphic Amelia Ross)

December 18, 2020

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To some, clothes are not perceived as mattering because “they’re just pieces of fabric.” This statement alone has been a great source of annoyance for many people who see themselves as being into fashion and clothing, myself included. In the past it has left me scrambling to explain how they are so much more and why everyone should care about them. I never found that answer, but I did find a different meaning behind that statement, which the person saying it may not have meant: “Clothes are just pieces of fabric.” I, someone who cares deeply about clothes, agree with that. The true meaning of that statement can actually teach you how to dress for yourself. Here’s how.

First, if you truly did not care about what other people think of your outfit, why change out of your comfy pajamas? While I am aware that some people choose to stay in their pajamas, there is an excellent chance that you don’t. In order to wear what makes you happy, it is important to identify who you are really dressing for. If you are not really truly dressing for yourself, why? What happens to your clothing once you stop dressing for someone else? Other people move fluidly in and out of your life. Basing an entire wardrobe off impressing someone else is creating a style that represents a period of your life, a period in which you knew them, rather than your life as a whole. Whether you like it or not, the only person who is a guaranteed constant in your life is you. Please, dress for yourself, because the best person to make proud and happy is the one you see in the mirror.

Secondly, why was the student from the beginning of this article right? Because clothes are clothes, they are dyed pieces of fabric sewn together to suit our bodies. But ultimately, you get to decide what this fabric means to you. You could decide that they mean nothing beyond their practical use, and wear whatever is most comfortable and cheap. I respect this, as you have decided what clothes mean to you. The labels other people place on clothes, with few exceptions, should not matter to you. A garment is a garment, no matter what the label in the back says. Does a piece of cloth with the word “womens” or “mens” in the back really define exactly who you are? It shouldn’t, clothes are clothes, no matter who their designer had in mind while making them. Do not be afraid, when buying clothes, to go to sections that are not labeled exactly who you identify as. If it makes you happy and proud, wear it.

At the end of the day, clothing is just a piece of fabric. Other people have their own meaning that they have attributed to their clothing, and will attribute to yours. Of course, some meanings from other people should not be ignored. Keep in mind that, while you are dressing for yourself, you still need to be conscious of whether or not what you are doing impacts someone else negatively. Cultural appropriation is an example. Once you have made sure of this, you can wear your clothes as you feel would make you happy. On the other hand, some interpretations from other people should not stop you. No matter what, somebody out in the world will not like your outfit. You may love your platform goth boots, but chances are 90 year old Ethel from down the street would prefer if you wore something else. If it is impossible to impress everyone, focus on who it actually matters to impress. You dress for you, you do not dress for Ethel, you do not dress for your family and friends, or anybody else. Hopefully, after reading this, you have gotten some idea as to how to make your own meaning out of your clothing choices. Through your own meaning, your own style emerges. Clothes are clothes, so make them mean something unique to you.

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