This weekend was my brothers and my best friends birthdays and they decided to have a joint birthday party…at a karaoke bar.
Yes, there was plenty of “Like a Virgin” and “Total Eclipse of the Heart” and “Hotel California”. But before we all had too much to drink and before we lost our voices, I was standing in my underwear in front of my wardrobe for about 20 mins in a indecisive fashion trance. What to wear? Once I snapped out of that, I moved onto the next phase which is, of course, the phase where you tear things from their hangers and try on everything you own in a mix and match frenzy, only to end up back in your underwear, but now with a huge pile of clothes on your bed that will have to be re-hung. The next stage includes me staring at myself in the mirror for an unknown length of time pinching my own bum and thinking “If I only lost a few kilos from my legs I could wear anything….goodness, my boobies have had a fall from grace…” etcetera etcetera.
This is when my inevitable cry for help happened; I called out to my husband “Huuuunnnn!! I don’t know what to wear! I have nothing to put on….” (you have to picture this in the same tone as an eight year old on a Sunday afternoon whinging “Muuummmm…..I’m bored!”)
I’m fairly sure that unlike most husbands, mine is quite happy to come and sit in our room and give me fashion advice. It’s quite unfair because I always think he looks suaver and chicer than I do, which doesn’t help my situation, but at the very least it encourages me to listen to his suggestions. Usually he starts with practical selections to make sure I’m not too cold, or too hot (just like I’m Goldilock’s porridge) and then chooses something casual or dressy depending on the occasion. He even helps me pick out shoes and accessories to match. But this time it was different.
Husband: Start with the shoes, and then figure out the rest from there. Actually no….just wear those black boots.
Me: Ok…what about these black jeans?
Husband: No…they look like they’re from the 90’s and you haven’t upgraded in 15 years…
Me: Ummm….ok? What then?
Husband: You should just trying buying some ‘normal’ clothes like what all the other girls wear. You buy all this weird stuff and then complain you have nothing to put on when we go out. It seems like you only have cool casual things or really dressed up gowns, but nothing good in that big gap in the middle. You should just be normal so you can blend in. Go to General Pants or Sportsgirl or something. I offer to buy you normal clothes but you don’t like any of it so you can’t complain now when you don’t have anything to wear.
Then he got out his phone and proceeded to show me photos of C-grade celebs and footballers wives on Instagram as examples of ‘normal’.
I was completed horrified. And so came my outburst….
“I don’t want to look like everyone else! Do you really just want me to blend into the crowd?! I’m not going to be one of those boring sheep that buy things because it’s what the mainstream stores tell you to put on. Fashion is self expression and I’m not going to tell the world that I’m ‘just another regular chick’ that you’ve met a hundred times before. I’m smarter than that! I’m independent and free thinking. I like what I like because it’s creative and ingenious and makes tells people about me. I’m not normal….I don’t want to be normal…Normal is boring.”
So he rolled his eyes and left to watch TV.
Then within 3 or 4 minutes, I was dressed and ready to go. I’m not sure whether he is insanely intelligent because he knew how I would react to his advice and get changed at the speed of light, or if that was just a bonus outcome for him. So we left the house, and I sung “Getting Jiggy Wit It” and everything was fine.
But it did make me think about whether he was right. I started self doubting and thinking maybe it is safer and easier to buy ‘regular’ and ‘mainstream’ clothes because you can’t really go wrong. No one will judge you for wearing something out of fashion or something that’s uncool; they can’t because it’s still in stores and everyone is wearing the same thing. People might even feel safer and more comfortable around you because they feel like they understand you and you look familiar. Maybe he’s embarrassed to walk down the street with me in my green suede pants and colourful tassel stilettos? But I kept coming back to one major, overruling point that vetoes all of that.
My genetic and moral fashion compass thinks that without risk and without independence and free thinking, we’ll all end up looking and thinking and acting like robots. After all, fashion and design and culture are creative and artistic things. I’m not necessarily going to go out and dye my hair pink and wear anything particularly controversial, because I don’t want to and I’m not trying to make a statement. So that’s exactly the point; I’m going to wear what I want, and not just mindlessly purchase things because ‘everyone else is’.
I know this is all a bit too philosophical considering this story started out with karaoke and 80’s pop. But have a think about your next purchase. Do you really, truly love that dress/jacket/pair of shoes or are you buying it because it exists and they’re everywhere, so it must be cool….?
Ps. Yes…I’m trying to start a consumer rebellion of smart purchasing
Let me know what you think! Comment below or email me anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org