THE UNDERESTIMATED POWER OF CLOTHES

Are you an airhead for liking fashion? Is caring about your appearance, whether that be in terms of hair, makeup or clothing synonymous to being superficial? When I was younger, I used to think not caring about how I looked was proof that I was not a shallow teenager, attached to her image, but all mind and intellect. The truth lay elsewhere though. It was not so much that I did not care about how I looked, but that I dressed badly because I did not believe I was worthy of looking nice. Clothes may seem trivial, but we could argue the opposite, in favor of the underestimated power of clothes.

Clothes can have a transformative power, there is a reason our guilty pleasure consists in watching people get makeovers. There is nothing quite like the reaction following said transformation, when the big reveal happens and the person bursts into tears of joy and gushes about their newfound self-confidence. This illustrates the simple way in which clothes can alter the way we perceive ourselves, making us gain in confidence, and a positive body image no matter our age or gender. You only need to look at drag queens to understand how empowering clothes can be. Drag queens take time to apply makeup, put together their outfits and hair, and come out the other end feeling bold, beautiful and proud. Fearless and shameless to express themselves.

Your style evolves with you as you grow and (hopefully) learn to accept yourself. When I felt my most worthless, I looked the part. In middle school I grew 8 inches and a pair of boobs within a couple of months so I drowned my body in shapeless clothes, trying to will it back to its prepubertal state. It is only once I started appreciating my body that I began to venture into the world of skirts and dresses… and liking it !

Getting dressed is meant to be fun and enjoyable. There are a lot of rules the fashion industry and your surroundings will try to feed you about what is or is not appropriate to wear, for instance wearing only clothes that fit your body type, not pairing black and navy together, not showing skin on top and bottom, not wearing yellow when you are blond… Breaking news: wear whatever makes you feel good and leave the fashion police behind. Some of the most radiant and successful women are those that did not abide by these so-called rules but just did whatever they wanted: case in point with Tavi Gevinson or Leandra Medine. Tavi was 11 when she launched her blog Style Rookie where she showcased her everyday kooky, quirky outfits, and Leandra was 22 when she started her own website as a hobby, posting pictures of her unconventional clothing combinations. Both of these women trusted their gut and wore whatever they pleased, with a good dose of humor.

Clothes accompany us during the important moments of our journey, acting as a madeleine de Proust by evoking memories and past events vividly. They are there during the stepping-stone events of our lives: the full-length graduation gown, the formal suit for a job interview, the first article of clothing you bought with your own paycheck, the white wedding dress. We hand them down generations as heirlooms to be treasured.  

Finally, it is important to bear in mind the strong power clothes have in shaping the world we live in. The fashion industry is the second most polluting industry in the world: how you shop, and dress speaks loudly about what kind of environment you want to pass on to the next generations. Buying less and more thoughtfully can have a positive long-lasting impact. With great power comes great responsibility, so choose wisely.

Article by Inès Huet

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