“Don’t you feel guilty about liking fashion, because it’s so superficial?”
Recently, someone asked me to justify my love of clothes, and I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. In fact, I renamed my column this semester, from “Justify My Love (of Clothes)” to the current “Fashion Statements” to signify that I was finished with proving to people that my interests mattered.
Raise your hand if you have ever worn gym clothes all day.
I tried this once. I never made it to the gym that day, though the thought that I needed to nagged me until dinnertime. At 7 p.m., as I ate my salad in un-sweaty leggings, I felt like my day had yet to start. I hadn’t done the one activity I had gotten dressed to do.
I just threw away a pair of black leather boots that carried considerable sentimental value. When I bought them, I vowed never to throw them away. I wanted to keep them looking nice and neat forever. And yet, when I dumped them in the trash two weeks ago, I felt completely elated.
One of my fondest childhood memories is the time I picked out these boots with my mother. Though I was already 13 years old when I bought them, I remember feeling as if owning these shoes solidified my status as A Real Teenager, because they were the first shoes I bought in an adult size. I received them for Christmas when I was in eighth grade, and I loved them for the next eight years.
On the night I received my Harvard acceptance letter, my mother suggested we celebrate by buying a necklace.
I remember every detail of that night, walking to a store that I usually visited to buy gifts for others. I can conjure up the specific mix of feelings that swept over me: disbelief and pride in my admission, relief knowing that high school was almost over, validation, and liberation. I felt profoundly lucky and full of glee. I’d never felt moved to buy jewelry to celebrate. But picking out a chain and three charms—a star, a flower, and a tiny gold cloud—felt fitting. I wore my necklace out of the store.
Valentine’s Day has me thinking about love and lace. Love, because now is the time to declare it. And lace, because according to one magazine's “Fashion Girls” (what?), it should be a part of my love-declaring outfit.
It’s hard to miss the pattern: articles that give advice on what to wear for Valentine’s Day say that lace—on a dress, in a coat, as a skirt, or randomly in the middle of your legs—is the way to look irresistible. And I’m just sitting here in Dunster House’s dining hall wondering why.