In the midst of various fashion weeks, I’ve been thinking more about style. From what I can tell, Europeans have a different philosophy when it comes to buying clothes. Instead of staying on top of trends, there is a focus on quality and longevity. Longevity in the sense that there is no “in” or “out”, or that it’s classic. Quality in the sense that each item is meant to physically last for years. Americans, on the other hand, tend to lean toward a popular aesthetic and trend-following.
More and more, I find myself moving toward a minimalist philosophy (in clothing only; I like my stuff). Quality is the main focus, not quantity. But I think the reason I’m only applying it now is my greater independence. My parents, in that classic Asian way, are penny-pinchers (and I mean that in the nicest way). Spending, say, $50 on a pair of pants would be horrifying. In the long run, though, seeking out and investing in quality pieces can actually be cheaper. There’s a joke in some Terry Pratchett Discworld book (RIP) in which the head of Ankh-Morpork’s police department reflects on boots. He pays very little for each pair that he buys, but they wear out very quickly. His wife, on the other hand, is fabulously wealthy and could buy boots that last a lifetime, thereby saving a small fortune in boot expenses.
People might shy away from a minimalist style because it’s “boring” or “plain” or “dull”. On the contrary, I find minimalist to be very fascinating. Here’s a quote that expresses it perfectly:
“Minimalism can be much more inventive. It’s not about the clothes anymore, it’s the way they’re put together, the simplicity of not being overdressed.”
-Rodolfo Paglialunga, Creative Director at Jil Sander
If anything, minimalism is more fun than busy textures and frou-frou! There’s a visual level and an intellectual level that interact to create something beautiful in it’s simplicity and elegance.
Another thing I’ve thought about, especially while living in Utah, is the idea of “modest fashion”. Supposedly, this is about making sure the proper places are covered, but the word-by-word definition has nothing to do with that. Modesty is a lack of self-centeredness, which also means a lack of visual self-awareness. And there’s nothing wrong with being modest; it’s a great attribute to aspire toward. But since when did appropriate attire equate to “modest”? My point is that I think not flashing people should be required everywhere, but that clothing does not have to be modest. I want to be bold with my clothes. I want to be interesting and expressive and wild. All these things can be accomplished without mid-thigh skirts and necklines that reach my belly button and without “sending the wrong message” as is said so often. I believe that fashion should show personality. Dressing modestly is what I would consider truly boring and plain and dull. Being modest is ok, better than ok, but looking like a pilgrim is not.
Don’t be boring, be yourself.