Dressing to make art, not a statement

By Stephanie Huang ‘16Fashion Columnist

I often feel that the line between dressing for fashion and dressing for appearance is blurred, and people rarely understand the difference. I can’t help but feel offended when people confuse the two, though I rarely feel so opinionated about other issues.

Some people claim to have an ardent love of fashion yet dress solely to make themselves more attractive. Sometimes it seems like all we see is an endless array of bandage skirts and crop tops. As blogger Jennifer Wang from Art in Our Blood aptly puts it, “People have lost track of a sense of balance. You can flaunt whatever body part you like tastefully,  as long as you don’t flaunt everything else at the same time.” People no longer seem to care about the aesthetics of proportions or modification. Similarly, makeup is often used as a tool to enhance one’s appearance rather than to serve as an art. Gone are the days of Twiggy lashes.

The truth is, fashion is not at all about making yourself look better. It’s about expressionism and creativity, playing with proportions, textures, patterns, colors, and ultimately, creating the kind of compelling juxtaposition that can become embedded in the fashion world as a movement.

Take the runway’s sports luxe trend for example: Isabel Marant’s juicy wedge sneakers and Joseph’s silk sweatpants, for instance, work to abolish pre-existing notions about what sportswear is typically used for. In this sense, fashion is about overturning the norms, pursuing the unexpected, and taking a gamble. It’s not that I have anything against clothing that exists purely to flatter one’s assets, but I wonder—what’s the point?  What’s the point of form-fitting or revealing clothing other than to influence how others perceive you?

Hence, there is no significance in highlighting your attributes and concealing your flaws other than to make yourself look more attractive. While magazines may suggest what to wear for your body type, be it “ruler,” “pear,” or “curvy all over,” these suggestions don’t really belong in the “fashion” section, because they are tailored for people who lack confidence in their own skin. This lack of confidence is often the result of harmful cultural ideas in the media about how people, especially women, need to look. Rather than suggesting that people avoid horizontal stripes, magazines should be instigators of confidence and choice to create art without guidelines.

Here lies the difference between fashion and consumerism.  Popular media, like magazines, portray trends that reflect the current-day consumer-oriented society. Yet the fact is, what is popular among the masses, like dressing for one’s figure, is not always popular in the fashion industry. It is a distinction I find myself making often. But it would be empowering and refreshing to see more people dressing to create art.