So, after I had an argument with someone near to me about “fashion sense”, I was left pretty astounded by the opinions people carry about their own and that of others. Clothing, accessories IS in part one’s measure of self-esteem. If the main purpose of fashion is to impress people – whom you do not even know, the entire purpose is lost. The best builder of self-esteem is one’s productivity and sense of accomplishment; in that sense AND context, people who do not attempt to look their “best” are kind of unproductive people, and in extension, it would apply to personal hygiene, character, clothing and personal appearance, all together. Also remembering that simple, clean, comfortable, well-fitting clothes with color, variety, carried the right way, amounts to the same – it may not be “fashionable” but offer utility and doesn’t imply low self-esteem.
I went online to look for well-dressed people and went through a lot of hype and tripe for a while. Didn’t find much to take home, though. Eventually I knew I could always fall back on characters in fiction. In men, it was Hank Rearden, and in women, it was a tie between Dagny Taggart and Dominique Francon. But, of course! Hank Reardon carried his clothes with assurance no matter what he wore – be it a business suit for a business meeting or overalls in his factory, simply standing the bromide “clothes maketh the man” on its head in reverse. So did Dagny Taggart and Dominique Francon. Subtlety was queen! Always, the more exquisitely understated something was, the more interesting.
Most men, as do most women dress terribly of course! It’s not as if there are no better choices available; simply that society today places no value in dressing well. Most men do not know what to wear for what occasion, much less co-ordinate pattern, color and cloth between four to five different articles of clothing. This is not to put down clothing design and selection because there are many values to be found in well-designed and well-chosen clothing. Example: I feel I cannot breathe in linen, and prefer the clean, comfort feel of cotton. I go for a better brand simply because of the quality of the fabric, the feeling of comfort and the ease of activity post wear. At the same time, I do have a keen sense of “dressing for the occasion”; yet, folks like me on several occasions have to forsake fashion for comfort. Since I have diabetes, I have to give up a Ferragamo for a pair of Nike, Levis and Emporio cotton polos against a business suit, for the weather that I work in currently.
I like to see a woman dress elegantly. It’s a rare sight, truly. You mostly end up thinking: WHAT IS THAT? Implying both the clothing and the person wrapped up in it. And the make-up! When I was a kid I used to think it as horrible stuff, unnecessary, time-wasting and a nuisance. Does it make a woman’s face appear smoother or prettier? It’s just a poor substitute though for the real thing which in most cases is being young, maintaining yourself well or simply good genes. And why don’t men wear make-up; so it’s actually okay for their faces to show age, but not for women?
“Great Fashion is an art” – similar quotes abound from all those that make money from it. Wrong. Yes, clothes, accessories and utilities are about context and functionality. But clothing et al viz fashion is NOT an end in itself, unlike sex or painting or writing or dancing. Designing clothing and accessories, material and other selections etc. is a selective process; this is the characteristic it shares with art. We can say then that it’s artistic though not art as it’s not experienced as an end in itself.