The 2017 Fashion Brainwash


lucy williams

Over this past year I’ve culled approximately 4 boxes of clothes from my closet.  I blame a few different things, including but not limited to reading a few books on cultivating minimalism and the life change of leaving college and preparing to depart for a Master’s program in France (which will involve some pretty limited packing).
Since clearing out my closet I’ve found that I have a much easier and more pleasant time getting dressed every day and I appreciate the things I have more. Everything is easier to find and I even feel prettier- probably because all of the things that remain are the things I treasure most and feel prettiest in.
Now, don’t get me wrong.  My wardrobe was never huge but even now it’s not exactly tiny.  I don’t want you to think I’ve suddenly morphed into an exemplary Buddhist, unattached to material possessions. Especially when there are 17 things on my eBay watch list.

But I’ve always been a bit ascetic. And self-discipline is always something I’ve really valued in myself, for better or worse.

Now I’m approaching the problem of how exactly to hold onto these gains when I still have the desire to shop and buy things, and when the current trends (in the list following) are doing their best to have me convinced that they are ‘must-haves’ which will drastically improve my life and happiness.

(Trying to unbrainwash yourself from consumerism is unAmerican and trying to remove yourself from the cycle of desire is against human nature, so this is a difficult path I feel, given my identity as an American human.)
First world problems.

As the subsequent items tempt me via a combined onslaught of blogs, Pinterest, and Instagram, I’m trying to remember the importance of individual style in contrast to the vicissitudes of fashion.  The importance of sustainability (the vast majority of my clothes are searched for and cherrypicked secondhand) and the reality that the number of things I can bring with me to France is going to be limited.

  • Gingham: Gingham is great in theory except that I already have the looks of a hale and hearty young milkmaid (it’s the perpetual baby cheeks).  Gingham gets literal on my very quickly and bypasses big-eyed Brigitte Bardot straight for “Angel Clare, please help me with this pail.”
    And in spite of this, I have a pair of cyan and white capris from a few years ago and a pair of white and blue shorts that a friend’s Mom passed on to me.  I guess it’ll go with the crown braid I’m wearing to get my hair off my neck.
  • Polka dots: Hey, whispers my acquisitive lizard brain, if you don’t like gingham, why not polka dots? Polka dots are very in right now.  To which I would like to rationally respond the I have a short polka dot skirt, a long polka dot skirt (granted a bit heavy for summer), and a polka dot scarf.  The former and the latter are from early high school and the middler I bought last winter.  I’m good. I don’t need a polka dot blouse. Or those gorgeous Tabitha Simmons slides.
  • Off the shoulder anything: I value full use of my arms way too much for this nonsense. And I’m also getting increasingly annoyed by the ubiquity of the off the shoulder blouse.  There are more people on the streets with bare shoulders than you can shake a stick at (and I can shake a stick at a lot of people).
  • Ruffled minidresses: Here is where I begin to give. There is a void in my closet so far as light summer dresses are concerned.  I have a highly adequate selection of black dresses. I have a formal verging on baptismal by way of Easter white lace knee-length dress.  But light fabric dresses good for throwing on and sweltering in? It’s a lacuna.  And of course, because it’s 2017, a large ruffle is an indispensable status symbol.
  • Wrap skirts: Summer skirts, like summer dresses seem to be another of my shortcomings. The only really summer appropriate skirt I have is the aforementioned short polka dot item (and that is itself navy, which gets a bit warm). Maybe I owe myself a skirt? And of course, as the ruffle is to the minidress, the wrap is to the skirt- a superfluous design detail intended to date the object to a specific season so that you feel inclined to by next season’s update.  Joke’s on you, fashion industry- I like ruffles and wraps! (Or do I only think I do because the industry has told me so?)
  • Red things: Maybe I owe myself a red skirt or dress? It would go beautifully with the beautiful red espadrilles I bought for my graduation. (I was indoctrinated by the color red early).
  • Cropped jeans: I gave in. I have two pairs now. And it was kind of unplanned. Well, the second pair was unplanned (I call it serendipity!) while the first pair was anguished over for a while.  I like the look. Casual but put together and kind of gamine. So sue me.
    Audrey wore them. You have to sue Audrey too.
  • Tie front tops: There’s this magical thing you can do where you take a top. and then you tie it. In the front. Lo and behold, you have a tie front top. I think I just broke the system.
  • Slip dresses: I’ve been wearing slip dresses from the thrift store to bed for forever. And now I can wear them outside? But that just seems weird. (Especially because most of my slips lean in a more lacy/lingerie-ish direction. But if I already know I like slips, it must be worth it to drop some $ on a nice, mid-calf length classic from Equipment or Vince? In a classic color like navy, correct?
    Well, yes, except for the sizable amount of $ part. because as well as I can picture a slip dress fitting in with my current wardrobe (and despite the lack of volume it would require in a France-bound suitcase) I can’t imagine spending much on something so pajama-adjacent. And I also have doubts about the likelihood of my finding my optimal slip dress when I have a very specific thing in my head.
  • T shirts that say cute things: What am I, 12? But it says L’AMANT on it, you might need it in France. Don’t worry reptile brain, you don’t need a T shirt to say that.
  • Slides: A sure sign of brainwash. I hate flip flops almost as much as I hate Crocs. I have a disdain of mules that started fading as load upon load of pretty pairs was presented for my viewing (and possible purchasing) pleasure. And now it’s summer, the toes are crying to be freed, and the brands are climbing over each other to free them (and sell the results). Thankfully, barefoot is both practical and summery. And I own sandals.

What about lace up sandals? You for got lace-up sandals!
I bought lace up espadrilles.
It’s different. You need both.
No I don’t. I have food and shelter and clothes to wear every day.

What about rope sandals?

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