Clothing is my armor. Not the kind of armor that is assigned to everyone who joins a sort of army. It is a kind of armor that is ever evolving—it moves into new territories, goes back to its roots and at times stays stuck in its present. It is the kind of armor that I can shape to fit my mood, the battle and/or the level of “fight” in me.
When they take that from you, strip you bare of your armor, mislabel it as a force of destruction, all you see is a site of destruction. You are left stranded alone in a battlefield, being the only one aware of the war ensuing inside of you.
You are left alone to face the reflection of the once, ever present warrior. When clothing is stripped from you, you either fight louder or crumble into the obscurity of your power.
Maybe those days when we co-sign their de-armoring, is a reminder that we can fall apart. We can rise even when we are the only ones who hear/feel/recognize the battle/destruction.
The images were inspired by this post. Link to products below!
From selling the yoga pants/leggings at a local art fair I was reminded how much women are self conscious about their bodies. What surprised me was the number of “older” women who would stop by my stand to “ooh and ahh” at the pants only to follow that with “well if only I were younger” or “who wants to see an old woman like me in leggings?” I was not sure how to respond because these were not reactions I expected. When I created the yoga pants/leggings, age was not something I had thought about, I wanted to create pants that would make all the people who wear them feel good about themselves. Once the shock value of the statements wore off I started to counter this narrative in the subsequent women.
It was a bit disheartening to bear witness to these women’s ideas that their age determined what they perceive they can and cannot wear; regardless of what their feelings are about an item of clothing. I did not manage to convince any of the women that fashion, bright colors, and patterns were not and should not be limited by age but I am hopeful that the more this narrative is reinforced, the more confident women will be to armor themselves in bold clothing. In order to ship the narrative, we need to be active participant in the shift, so go on, get all the women in your life, especially the older ones, some bright, colorful and beautiful yoga leggings/pants!
Pictured above is one of our beautiful and older customers sporting our yoga pants/leggings!
It’s application season and thus I am once again plagued with the question of whether I should go for the expected blue, black, or gray suits or be myself and wear things that include more than one pattern or color palette. There is nothing wrong with going the traditional route but for me it feels very suffocating and almost like an erasure of my identity. There is no doubt a potential risk of rejection or dislike of a person who dares to dress outside of the expectations, but I do not think it’s a zero-sum loss.
I think there is a sense of empowerment in dressing in a way that is both fitting for the situation and represents who you are. If we repeat the same process over and over of dressing in ways that do not reflect anything about who we are, the system never changes. The system is thus never asked to expand its imaginary of what is expected. So I say, no blue suiting or at least not all the time.
Now while I think we should challenge the system in how we dress, I would still say do it in ways that will not be completely detrimental to your chances of landing the acceptance. Here are the ways I have challenged the system with my clothing choices:
The funny thing is every time I have worn my matte red heels I have had positive comments from my women interviewers. One of my interviewers noted, years later, how stylish and confident I had looked on interview day.
While I agree somewhat with the idea that one should stand out based on what they say and not what they are wearing, but because we live in a very visual society I think it is fair and probably important to also dress in ways that represent you. I feel very un-confident when I am not clothed in ways that feel authentic to me and so a big part of wearing things beyond the expected black/blue/gray is about making myself feel confident and eliminate the element of “feeling out of myself” or “caricature” from my worries and free up some mind space to give the very best interview I can.
What are your thoughts on choosing the “right” outfit for interviews? Will you blue suit or color suit? What shapes the suit you wear?
I have been exploring fashion through art portraiture. In a way it’s about creating a grandiose mode of existing in the world. A lot of the women I draw look different but there is often this theme of constriction around their neck. Juxtaposed next to the constriction of neck (which to me seems to be more about inability to speak freely) is an abundant dose of freedom in the lines and the “clothing” the women wear. This incongruity is in many ways the inverse of what seems to happen in “real” fashion. Clothing in many ways lack this absolute sense of freedom but there tends to be less constriction in the ability to use one’s voice. In these portraits, I seem to be chasing this incongruity in myself: the need to speak but not being able to speak outside of the context of the clothes I wear.
I am interested in hearing what you all think about clothing in terms of how it constricts and speaks? Is there a difference in how you image fashion and the reality of what you have access to?
It wasn’t until I went to study abroad in Copenhagen that I realized how liberating it was to stop pretending. It was so empowering to see other people being honest about their feelings, whether it was about their joy, anger or sadness. It was there that I realized I was carrying a lot of feelings of sadness that I had not realized I contained. And the first time you learn to sit in feelings of sorrow, it is completely overwhelming and that is how I found colors. I realized that every time I felt sad I could dress in the complete opposite way and throughout the day, as I would catch the reflections of the different colors I was wearing I would feel better. Colors to me is not about repressing feelings of sadness or sorrow but rather it allowed me to better tolerate those feelings and tackle them from a vantage point is that is not solely tied to the feelings of darkness.
What is your relationship with colors? Leave a comment about your own perspective!