How you look matters, people. And since we’re not always at liberty to change our own height, weight, bone structure, skin condition, or disability, nor is any one of us going to completely change the mindset and habits of immediate judgment inherent in every human being on the planet, the fact that it matters isn’t going away anytime soon.
And because of all this,fashion matters, too. What you wear is the only capacity in which on a daily basis you make decisions that communicate who you are, what you value, and how you feel. Obviously, every decision you make communicates those things, but think about it—does anything change as frequently or vary as much as the things you choose to wear?
Think about it. Your fashion choices demonstrate how you want people to perceive you—are you hiptastic, or do you have other things to worry about? Do you take your professional ambitions seriously, or do you have any at all? Are you confident, meek, sexual, reserved, wealthy, poor, individualistic, or a trend-follower?
What’s more, what you wear demonstrates how you perceive yourself. Do you feel good about your body, or do you dress to hide your so-called problem areas?
Fashion is a key showcase of your consumption choices and thus, your values. Do you go crazy for trends, or do you look for pieces that can be worn over and over again ten years from now? Do you pick out disposable pieces, or do you buy for lasting quality? Are you a green shopper? How does child labor and third-world manufacturing affect your buying decisions? No matter what your values are, they’re evident in what you wear. When I see a girl wearing skinny stonewashed jeans, for instance, I can tell she places a high value on current trends. Someone wearing head-to-toe organic cotton clothing and TOMS shoes likely values the environment and economic charity at least as much as fashion-forwardness. New Yorkers (or tourists!) who wear sneakers instead of heels definitely value their own comfort over their trendiness.
Also, think about it this way: it’s impossible to dress in a way that communicates absolutely nothing about you. If you dress as though you don’t care, the people around you might not be able to see how interesting and unique you are—less able than, say, if you wore your favorite colors or styles every day. If you follow a uniform code to the very letter, you’re still communicating something about yourself—your affiliation with the organization whose uniform you’re wearing [and also perhaps your loyalty to it—that you value the organization you belong to more than you value your individual expression, or maybe just that you value your job enough to follow the rules and thus not be stripped of it]. Likewise, if you choose not to wear anything, you’re making a pretty specific statement about your values and your feelings about your own body! And if you go really grungy (read: you skip on teeth-brushing and shampoo once a week at most; you wait six months or so before doing your laundry; and every item of clothing you own is stained, stretched out, and torn), you’re being unabashedly honest about the fact that you don’t give a damn about what you look like [or what anyone thinks of it].[Sidenote: I used to know someone like this. And I'm not entirely sure how he held a job or met anyone, because he looked a hot mess all the time. I'm not talking about wearing clothing that was out of style or unflattering…I'm talking about holey, smelly, unlaundered clothing paired with once-weekly showers, if he was feeling super-motivated. Ew.]
So don’t ever let anyone tell you that fashion is dumb. It’s not.