The Danger With Fashion: The Hidden Consequence of Dressing With Intent


I don’t recall when I actually began to dress up. Nor do I remember simply waking up one morning decked out in pleated bow dresses and leopard pumps. What I do recall, however, is that the sartorial prescriptions of major retail chains and those of my unwitting peers were like gospel to me, and as such, I blindly followed said prescriptions until much soul-searching (and closet purging) led me to what author JJ Lee aptly coins, “dressing with intention”. As Lee suggests in his memoir, The Measure of a Man, the mere act of dressing makes one prey to public scrutiny as everyone from arbiters of style to your colleague in the next cubicle are waiting to carefully comb your presentation from head to toe.

“If you choose to dress with any sort of intention or sense of purpose—with style—you really can’t win. That’s why people who take risks with the way they dress are thought of as brave. ”

While someone who dresses with intention comes to expect such scrutiny, nothing can ever prepare someone for the misjudgments others will make, not about the clothes that they choose to wear, but the content of their character.

And this very realization leads to an infinite number of questions. For one, are our sartorial accoutrements loaded with information like we’ve always firmly believed, or lack thereof? Dressing is a form of self-expression, but how is it that the message we wish to convey gets so grossly misconstrued? Is our chosen mode of self-expression built to fail, or, much like with the advent of technology—specifically Web 2.0—have we become at a loss for how to think about or properly respond when faced with certain propositions without an ostensible set of rules, or compass to help us make sense of the burgeoning shift from conformity to individuality happening within our collective sartorial domain?

Essentially, while the clothes that we wear do speak about our demeanor, evidently, they do not tell the whole story. Simple as that.

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