I recently read an article that talked about how paring down choices, (in this particular article, fashion choices) helps to combat decision fatigue, promote a simplified, less distracted lifestyle that will lead to success.
I don’t want to get into the article too much, although I will mention how narrow its scope of “successful people” is, and how it cites three ‘successful’ men as examples of a large, generalizing statement. It’s a pretty lazy article. THAT ASIDE. The point of mentioning the article was that it made me think about what role fashion plays in our everyday lives. Especially for us who are not particularly invested in the fashion industry, what guides our choices every day to put on certain articles of clothing?
I would like to reaffirm the role of my wardrobe in my life. Making these decisions every morning gives me a healthy amount of frustration that I secretly enjoy. It is, after all, a privilege to have such freedom to choose. Furthermore, what we wear is part of our cultural fabric. This means that what we wear has historical, socio-political, and economic repercussions.
I dislike envisioning “simplify” as a dichotomy of choices between material excesses, and immaterial ideals. To simplify is more often than not, mental laziness, or the presence of blind spots. I think the aforementioned article actually confirms the importance of the wardrobe, given that their fashion choices (or lack thereof) lead to an interpretation by another writer as being an example of practices that helped them succeed.
Not choosing to decide on what to wear, in favour of making larger (read: more important) decisions is an oversimplified narrative of what it means to dress ourselves. Choosing to use the material things in our lives to represent, express, or affirm who we are is not bad. In fact, it is one of the oldest practices of self-expression, communal exercise, and political revolution in our world.
A personal example is my growing inclusion of traditional Chinese-styled pieces in my wardrobe. I see an incredible history of Chinese fashion trends to look at, to learn from, to revive, partly to celebrate my own ethnicity, and to make it a point to remember that the current “normalized” clothing we all wear daily is not, in fact, the only thing I have to wear.
We can intentionally choose to wear certain things. We can also intentionally choose to opt out of wearing certain things.
Both actions send strong messages.
I would not pick and choose other cultural, or religious items to wear as fashion statements, as I think it is culturally appropriative behaviour, and therefore not something I want to engage in.
We can choose to care about what is on our body, or we can choose not to care about what is on our body. Either way, we make a point with our wardrobe.
It does matter.
So after using our brains to process our options wisely, sensitively, and intelligently: wear what you need to wear, what you want to wear, what you think about wearing, what you choose to wear, what you like to wear.
WEAR IT ALL.
*throws piles of clothing into the air and dances like Julie Andrews in the opening scene from The Sound of Music*