A few days ago, I was attempting to get ready for my day, when I inevitably fell back into a solid white J.Crew t-shirt, Levis, and black Tod’s mules. I have dawned this outfit on a number of occasions, primarily out of a lack of options in my closet, but also out of sheer comfort. I have been in this exact predicament a number of times and every single time it seems to play out the way it did before. In the past, this scenario would rarely happen, limiting myself to such few layers would prove to make me feel uncomfortable, ill-prepared, and fidgety, but now, something within myself has changed enough to garner an appreciation for the simplicity of my wardrobe, and yet, hate it entirely.
This whole idea of wanting less became more evident to me when I read an article on ManRepeller about Simple Advice from Three Older Women. The article was insightful, and inspiring, but left me feeling a lot more than I initially expected. Very rarely do pieces move me, but Anne Perryman, a journalist from NYC wrote about her experience growing into the person that she is today, which had little if anything to do with wardrobe, but more to do with the fact that she felt so inclined by the need to be a journalist, that she left her home, ended a marriage, and worked her ass of in several jobs writing, reporting, and being the person that she wanted to be—unknowingly, but also practically, self-identifying as a “low-maintenance dresser,” and describing shock and awe at anyone who travels with more than a carry-on, ever.
What resonated with me was this practicality and unfiltered love for something more than how her outward appearance looked. Not to say that she doesn’t care at all, because she admitted that she thoroughly knows what she likes and what she feels comfortable in, thus limiting her wardrobe to few items, but I can honestly say that I have never had this moment—yet, I want it so bad.
I tried going a month wearing a work uniform which consisted of black t-shirts, one pair of jeans, pants, shorts, and workout attire. What happened throughout that month was a reluctance to get dressed entirely, and a need to layer jackets, hats, jewelry, and anything that would add fun to my wardrobe, BUT then here I am, almost two years later, choosing t-shirts, solid sweaters, and jeans as my regular attire.
Simply comfort and practicality—a small part of me loves this narrative and the other part hates it.
I wrote about personal style a while ago and how I decided to surround myself with icons that inspired me to be more adventurous with my wardrobe, but then I read this article by Anne Perryman, and I was so moved that I completely forgot about my past decisions. Isn’t comfort always the goal, or is comfort irrelevant when it comes to style? Typing that out, I can feel the presence of Carrie Bradshaw whispering in my ear, only this time shes myself, in drag, named Carrie Bradstein.
Why do we need to choose between one or the other, and can you love clothes, and still at the same time maintain an effortlessly minimalist wardrobe without self-identifying as a minimalist. I hate minimalism. And yet, in my disdain, long for practicality when it comes to my clothing that I would never feel uncomfortable, a need to change five times before leaving my apartment, or layering garments so much, that I look somewhat like a mix between Iris Apfel and the Olsen twins.
I have been thinking about this for a while, and while I’ve come to no solid conclusion, I have become far more aware of my participation in consumerism. I have already adopted a vegetarian lifestyle to quell my guilt for not doing more for the environment, and while I have seemingly done this for my wardrobe as well, I am not immune to the rush that comes from obtaining something new and shiny.
I am like a cat, or goldfish, or some sort of animal that sees something beautiful and new and must make an impulse purchase. I am a genuine lover of fashion and the transformative power of clothing and accessories, but the longing to be an Anne Perryman journalist extraordinaire that travels the globe carrying a typewriter in her carryon and nothing more, changes this impulse. It goes beyond the impulse purchase because as someone who is a genuine fashion fan, merely looking at pieces doesn’t settle the desire to see myself dressed in swaths of fabric. I imagine myself walking down the street wearing colorful clothes, adorned with style and oozing confidence, and at the same time, crave to sit in the background in a comfortable sweater observing things as they happen.
It’s this sort of personal style struggle that is so prevalent today, mainly, I think, because of the way social media has sort of created a way for everyone to have a personal brand. You have to know what you like, why you like, where you got it, how to wear it, and exactly how to make the aesthetic work for your LEWK, that has never been the case before.
The thing is, I’m probably really overthinking this because regardless of what I might be grabbing from my closet right now, I still do want to assert my individuality through my clothes, as it’s meant to be—regardless of comfort and style. If I want to look like Iris Apfel, I can g-dammit. If I want to be Jenna Lyons, then I’ll slick my hair in a bun and do just that. I also don’t want to think about it so much. If Anne Perryman can travel the world carrying only a carry-on and nothing more, maybe I too can do the same, but I might have a few extra bags stored underneath my seat.