How to dress when nothing matters


As an early (don’t you dare say geriatric) millennial who’s made New York home for the majority of her adult life, I connect with fashion as my favorite medium of functional art. I work in it and I live it.

But I’ve also watched first-hand as that wearable art has morphed into a miasma of toxic, disposable consumption. It’s a mission of mine as a designer, and a human in general, to be as environmentally responsible as possible. The currency of this mission is salvaged, reclaimed, reworked and vintage clothing.

So even as the planet serves up ever more climate-related disasters — as we live through genocides in real time, as the LGBTQ community is under attack by the right, as the removal of reproductive and other human rights continue, as society villainizes education — let’s try to find some joy in wearing something that makes us feel good when it feels like nothing really matters. Here are my best practices in these dark days.

Before we get into things, let me be clear: I believe in our continued collective movement for change and I am inspired by the younger generations who are awake and not ok with the status quo. I’m simply trying to find my joy where I can, and hopefully share it with you.

That said, whether you count yourself among those physically fighting for these many worthy causes, or you’re actively protesting, supporting those in need monetarily, or simply spreading awareness in your own way— or you’re laying in the fetal position taking methodically deep breaths into a paper bag because this is all just too much— here are some ways to make a difference and the most of your fashion story, even though everything completely sucks.

Get in on the rebellion … of self-expression.

Go androgynous
Activist and drag queen Sylvia Rivera famously said “If it wasn’t for drag, there’d be no gay liberation.” Thanks to those like her and Stormé DeLarverie, androgyny has surpassed fleeting trendiness to become a fashion staple. (Oversized all day, bae bae!) But as long as conservative political discourse seeks to villainize this culture, not only is it important to participate in this form of dress (cis-normative men, that skirt looks good on you too), but it also shows that despite prejudices, views are changing. (Workwear is everywhere, it’s in Bergdorfs!) Those long, wide leg shorts aren’t just for Y2K skater dudes and they’d look hot with a lacey corset or tank. Pair that oversized linen blazer with your sports bra and bicycle shorts. Marrying the masculine and feminine is cool and creates a dynamic look for everyone, any time of day. Living your fashion truth always matters, even if nothing else does.

Remove color altogether
There’ll be no pink-washing here. If you’re someone like me who’s drowning in this time of anger, fear, anxiety and sadness to the point where it’s so overwhelming you start to feel numb, express that in wearing colorless attire. White and creams, soft versions and beige, taupe and mossy greens are huge this season. But if you’re protesting, red, green and black (also black always, it’s New York, after all) are a must. If you’re participating in the support of our LGTBQ+ fam, make sure it is done with advocacy. It’s less rainbows and glitter this year because there’s less to celebrate as trans youth are in danger and the community’s rights as a whole continue to be at considerable risk.

Wear (reclaimed) natural fabric and vintage leather
Fabric needs to be breathable, to naturally remove moisture and help keep you cool and/or warm. Synthetic fabric won’t help your body regulate its temperature, so for peak comfort (when everything is far from it), only wear naturally-occurring materials and avoid anything petroleum-based. Which is mostly everything. Thanks big oil!
Wearing vintage leather means you’re celebrating life already and, in some ways, saving animal lives. Why buy new furs when salvaged fur will keep you just as warm? Bonus: mob wife vibes, amiright? This limits the need for new manufacturing, animal abuse practices as well as the exploitation of labor. Since 2021, at least 61 bills to roll back child labor protections have been introduced in 29 states, and at least 17 bills have been enacted in 13 states. While you’re at it, skip the “vegan leather” — a marketing tool designed for you to buy disposable, poisonous, plastic crap, and in these dark times coating your largest organ (your skin) in chemicals isn’t the look.

The only thing the South is getting right: Fashion
As pro-Palestine Jewish woman who was born in Kentucky and raised in Texas, I grew up going to the Round-Up (a legendary honky-tonk gay bar in Dallas where men tipped their cowboy hats back so they could dance real close-like), a beacon amidst the faux Southern gallantries. I don’t know if it’s my Texan roots or Beyoncé (once again), but I’m loving the western boot-with-jorts look. For an even more of an “eff you!” to repressive southern politics, pair said western boots with some bicycle or tiny track shorts, perhaps even a cheeky graphic t-shirt in favor of reproductive rights, or an end to Christian Nationalism in schools. Turn heads, and hopefully minds too.

Always accessorize
Because our planet is on fire and temperatures are now forever increasing, make sure you’re hydrating. Avoid single-use/disposable anything and bring a cute, reusable cup to get your iced coffee, something in a matte black to express the lack of hope we’re all feeling. I’d like to pay homage to the classic cotton tote in these days of schvitz. Body sweat and sun/high temperature exposure can damage the fabric, leather and hardware of an expensive bag, so buy resale if you need some heir legitimacy when nothing really matters.

The post How to dress when nothing matters appeared first on Brooklyn Magazine.

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