BY MICHAEL REISIG –
Fashion is an induced epidemic designed to make people, particularly women, feel young, attractive, and rejuvenated, but the creative oddness applied by those who determine what is fashionable and what is not, is often so bizarre that it does just the opposite. The oddest part of all is that people follow these bizarre trends with the single-mindedness of lemmings, losing all sense of their independence of thought and personal honesty. They walk around trapped in this “fashion consciousness,” this innovation without reason, while having forsaken all their distinctiveness for the satisfaction of being part of the hive.
If you’re an independent thinker and not a lemming, you will base your fashion taste on what doesn’t itch – and listen to the voice inside you – the voice that tells you right from witless, and stylish from daffy. It’s perfectly fine to let your clothes represent you, to have them make a statement of who you are, as long as it’s your statement, and not some vacuous, drugged-up gadfly sipping martinis in a penthouse 1,000 miles away. Fashion should be a form of pleasant escape, not an imprisonment. None of us should forget the statement by the writer Quentin Crisp: “Fashion is what you adopt when you don’t know who you are.”
We’re strange creatures when it comes to fashion – we laugh at the old and adhere religiously to the new. What we should value is character, and express that through our individual style. We need to remember that fashions fade, but style is eternal. Your appearance shouldn’t be a vain or desperate attempt to attract attention, but rather a subtle lure that makes people want to know more about you – the people worth drawing in are rarely attracted by shiny, strange, and bizarre (unless, of course, you are shiny, strange and bizarre.)
While I’ll admit that clothing can buy a short-term sense of happiness (I’m reminded of the quote by Bo Derek – “Whoever said money couldn’t buy happiness, didn’t know where to shop”), the truth is, this is a very short-termed happiness, and much like a drug-induced high, it has to be continually purchased. I’m always astounded at the passion women have for shoes. They’re the last thing anyone looks at if the rest of you is hot, and if your not, extraordinary shoes certainly aren’t going to change the equation. I can’t remember once in my dating days looking at an attractive girl and saying to myself, “Nope, no good, don’t like her shoes.”
The happiest people are those you have found themselves – those who carry an innate, interior contentment. Clothes are just an insignificant frosting on an already delicious cake.
But fashion is not just about clothes. It extends into numerous segments of the human psyche. If you follow history you realize that it expands clearly into politics, religion, architecture, entertainment, and literature as well. There is a capricious movement of the tides, if you will, in literature and motion picture entertainment – people come into vogue and go out, then oftentimes return with a remarkable rebirth. We have a society today that finds concepts fashionable that would have been completely unacceptable, even taboo, just 50 years ago.
While fashion changes continuously there are a few things that should never go out of fashion – bravery, courtesy, honesty, integrity, compassion, patriotism, and faith. We can only hope that the fashions to come will still regard these elements as valuable.