Truly Distinctive Aesthetics Remain Elusive



Some people would define athleisure clothing as what is typically worn for athletic activities, but that can then transition to any location where supercasual clothing is OK. (Dreamstime/TNS)

Connor Mcneely

Fashion — to put it broadly — is something that means anything and everything to anyone, even to a person who wakes up and puts on clothes without a second thought. It is a relatively simple term to comprehend but is infinitely complex when context is removed. 

So, to form an opinion on fashion is quite a challenging thing to do. In the conventional sense of an opinion no one can claim in any valid way that fashion is good or bad, nor can one legitimately argue for anything — moral, political or social — without confining themselves to a sector of fashion’s broad, intersecting dimension. Personally, the word fashion has been progressively narrowed through normal conversation into a designation that is most closely associated with an individual’s “unique” clothing style. That seems like a less painful analysis. I put quote marks around unique because it doesn’t take a genius to realize that what people wear is predominantly influenced by other people — celebrities, friends, authorities — an argument for the nonexistence of self can be made here, but that’s a bleak thought that I don’t want to trouble anyone with. 

The point is that anyone’s clothing style can potentially be a fantastic mishmash of creative personal expression; current cultural movement; local, regional and national markets; income; race; gender; the comments of your friends and parents, etc. If you want to know who a person is, you can usually see it through what they wear. 

Your choice of clothing is directed by the authorities of the street and the sidewalk and the top 20 fashion brands … ”

Now for a disclaimer. I am not stating that clothes are the be-all end-all of who someone is as a person, hence the ‘usually.’ But an individual invariably releases some physical or psychological characteristic about their identity through their style, this is inarguable. And the pretentious end of it will be what I am writing about today. The specific psychological attribute that they release is that faux sense of individuality that is unfortunately so easy to detect among everyone. 

No one has a unique style. Your choice of clothing is directed by the authorities of the street and the sidewalk and the top 20 fashion brands of American and European society and movies and television. And latent conceptualizations of self. Guys peruse Instagram fashion accounts like Hypebeast and GQ looking for “creative” ideas and girls do the same through individual celebrities.  

I may come off in that previous paragraph like I am bashing the conventions of my peers. This is not the case. I do the same thing — I follow Grailed on Instagram for God’s sake. The real unique fashion is found somewhere like in Kanye West’s suspiciously homeless looking clothing line (I hope the editor uses a picture of that for the online version) and in the principle of “haute couture.” Now you can decide whether that’s more appealing than conforming to general trends.

Haute couture is top dollar, hand made clothing that almost always resembles someone’s costume from your batsh*t crazy dream last night. If you look at the runways in Paris, New York or London in their respective fashion weeks — you would think you had fallen down the rabbit hole into Wonderland. That’s not to say that I am insulting what these people spend their fortunes crafting. I’m merely presenting the facts. This high culture outfitting is all a matter of receptivity. The benefit of sticking within the lines, so to speak, is that you still have a wide range of creative choice — but you can’t pretend to be completely distinctive in what you wear. It’s just not true. Everything that you wear can be relegated to a category of outfit, and has certainly been recreated in some form somewhere else in the world — probably thousands or millions of times. The only styles of clothing that can claim admissible uniqueness would be something like Lady Gaga’s meat dress or Katy Perry’s chandelier costume — to use a popular example. 

Ultimately, the fashion in which you wear clothing is about being comfortable. I’m not talking about being physically snug or comfy within what you’re wearing; I mean if your brain is secure with what’s representing it. We all want to feel good in what we wear. We don’t want to worry about irritation — physical or social —while we’re wearing it. That’s what we should all look for in a good outfit.