Feature: Why Fashion Matters
With NYFW in full swing and LFW just around the corner, it's all about keeping up appearances. We invited writer, model and friend of BNKR Elfy Scott to share her ever-changing views on the industry and self expression. W H Y F A S H I O N M A T T E R S
It’s a strange thought experiment, often riddled with disappointment and shame, but you can’t help but reflect on what your younger self might think if they could see you now. I can only conclude that my younger self, with her profound anti-capitalist views and punk philosophies would probably take a perfunctory glance at my wardrobe, spit on my patent leather shoes, and swiftly make for the door.
The truth is, I’ve always nursed a pretty severe aversion to fashion. The word itself would make my skin crawl with its notions of elitism, hard-earned cash dying needless deaths and feelings of entrenched inferiority in the less privileged.
More so, I believed fashion was a woman’s burden and could only exacerbate our anxieties about ourselves while we witnessed the men around us coursing through life with ease in the veritable modern male uniform: jeans and a flannel shirt.
For many years I just refused to partake; I found an outfit and I wore that goddamn outfit every day of the year. A maroon cotton muscle t-shirt paired with high-waisted jeans and a pair of black Vans. My one concession? In summer I wore shorts. Like a cartoon character, locked in a perpetual cycle of unmitigated sameness (except that cartoon character’s clothes must always be clean, I was considerably more disgusting). I coined the term 'lazy chic' and managed to elude any particular anxiety about dressing for a very long time.
For me, the process of disassembling that habit wasn’t simply a matter of buying more stuff, it was more a case of altering any of my preconceived notions about the institution of fashion. I eventually came to realise that fashion is not defined by Chanel, Louis Vuitton or figures leering over consumers like a giant post-apocalyptic caricature of Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada. Fashion is a process of integral, individualistic expression.
When we put on our clothes in the morning, we cultivate a profound external representation of what we feel internally – sometimes that means we’ll step out of the house looking like promiscuous business women and other times we’ll choose to go about our day looking very much like somebody who hasn’t done laundry in a week.
British columnist, feminist, and hero amongst women Caitlin Moran put it brilliantly when she said, “When a woman says ‘I have nothing to wear!’ what she really means is, ‘There’s nothing here for who I’m supposed to be today.’”
I started to dress differently because I felt differently in myself and my wardrobe – with its abundance of oriental silks, faux fur, leather and old men’s shirts – is a manifestation of that. My fingers have also become permanently ornamented with a ridiculous crowd of silver rings that feel so much like a part of me, that if I get to the train station only to realise that I’ve failed to put them on, I will sure as hell walk the ten minutes home to retrieve them.
It should also be worth noting that the term ‘fashion’ when used in this sense is applicable to absolutely every human on earth. Do you remember ever having an aversion to pink when you were a child and reeling at the idea of wearing it? That’s because you weren’t pink as a person.
Many men are comfortable with the idea of wearing essentially the same thing for their entire lives because (being well-acquainted with the muted emotional valence of men in general) they feel essentially the same for their entire lives. Whereas, as women we lead multi-faceted, peaking and trough-ing, helter skelter emotional existences, which dictate a need to express those split personalities to the world.
That’s why we own so much freakin’ clothing – because it would be spiritually alienating not to.
We must have the outrageously small mini-skirt, high heels, slouched jeans, boots and hyper-feminine long dresses simply because we have absolutely no idea who we will feel like when we wake up tomorrow. And yeah, sometimes men want to wear the hyper-feminine long dresses too - and that’s equally as fantastic.
Given a moment, I would relish the opportunity to talk to my younger self, tell her to give it up and accept her eccentricities – better yet, advertise them – because ultimately fashion is one of the most authentic and creative ways to claim your identity. Then I’d tell her to calm the hell down because, yes, I’ve kept the band t-shirts and have also acquired a vintage leather jacket that I think she might like.
Words: Elfy Scott
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