This week, I attended a healthcare interoperability conference in which Malcolm Gladwell gave the keynote address. A reader of his books and admirer of his meticulous research methods, I left the conference with several takeaways. Also this week, I went to Gypsy Sally's, a freshly minted Americana live music venue in Georgetown, to see Johnnyswim perform. What does this have to do with each other? Stick with me for a couple minutes. Reframing the Question
On the daily, the factors of the day determining one's choice of dress very well could be "Is it clean?" "Does it fit?" "Is it comfortable?" "Does it go?" All these are reasonable criteria. I make decisions based on these factors. In matters of dress, the desire is not to have you dress for someone else or dress according to someone else's rules (the fashion industry's do's and don'ts can be fleeting and cyclical). Rather than letting the question be one where the void is filled by a competing number of media and ads, I would encourage the question to revise to "what is your style? what do you want it to be?" Is it funky? edgy? boho? tailored and sleek? classic? comfortable? casual chic? eclectic? color-centric? avant garde?
The global fashion industry is valued at an estimated $1.7 trillion and employs approximately 75 million people. With a valuation that large and an employ worldwide, fashion intersects with each of our lives at some level. Everyday, we put on garments. The daily question of "what am I going to wear today?" lies central to the existence of fashion publications and brands that vie for influence in the choices you make of which garments to purchase and wear. It's worth it to reframe the question to know for yourself what kind of style you like and feel most yourself in before anyone else persuades you otherwise.
Maybe you are searching and do not want to commit to one style. That is fine. More than fine actually! Fashion like art allows us to feel, escape, and dream. Fashion and functionality allow us to fulfill daily demands and get things done. However, if you can determine your anchor by answering the fundamental question "what is your style? And what do you want it to be?," the rest of fashion is open to you for play. That is the beauty of style, there are numerous ways you can engage or reinvent your style. Sometimes, all it takes is a few accessories, a tailored coat, or a great shoe. Maybe you want to challenge yourself and see how many ways you can style a dress or pair colored jeans. Maybe you like to layer accessories and mix family heirlooms with modern costume jewelry. Perhaps your anchor is classic black or the little black dress affectionately referred to as the LBD. Maybe button downs and slacks are your uniform but ties and your beard are your playground (for the guys reading this). Awesome. It doesn't have to be rocket science. It doesn't have to be a consumerist nightmare. It can be fun, freeing, and doable. So I encourage you to make like Gladwell and reframe the question.
Suck It (Naysayers), You Can Do It
One of the purposes (porpoise) of the blog is to encourage and empower readers to take care in their dress, courage in their choices, and savvy in their purchasing power...of course with some whim to boot. There are photos of established designer collections or referrals to stores that feature ideas and labels. For us, the message is less about the price point or about the must-have thing. It's more about showcasing authentic and ordinary style awesomeness and discovering the inspiration that a designer employs in their creations. Sometimes the inspiration is historical, deeply personal, an amalgam of different influences, or it's simply fun. While this blog is not about more, it is about finding the freedom and joie de vivre in fashion that best expresses and brings out what's already inside you.
During the live show at Gypsy Sally's, Johnnyswim performed a newer song called "Diamonds." Prefacing the song, Abner, lead guitarist and singer, explained the genesis of the song. When leaving his native Cuba, a friend made pretty dismissive statements regarding his dream to become a professional musician in the US. A couple years later, a marriage, and a lot of hard work, Johnnyswim performed on the Tonight Show. Following the performance, the same friend called Abner and rather than offer congratulations, he asked who they had to pay off to get that performance spot. This interaction inspired Abner to write this song as a statement to the naysayers "to essentially suck it" and as Amanda eloquently added to the song's message, it's also about the positive affirmation of "hey, you can do it!" As NY Fashion Week blazes on and new trends, style guides, and campaigns ensue, I encourage you to reframe the question.
This weekend, Fashion & Philosophers is giving away a signed copy of Malcolm Gladwell's latest book, David & Goliath. To enter the giveaway, refer this blog to a friend and let us know by commenting below or tagging @fashionphilos on twitter or @fashionphilosophers on instagram. The pool will close Sunday at 11:59pm EST and one winner will be announced Monday morning.