The tyranny of the new
Back in the day – and I mean the Livejournal days when Fatshionista was at its height and I spent a lot of time there scrolling through endless ootd posts because it was so new and revolutionary to have all of those fat people in one space – when I first started figuring out my personal style, it was easy not to repeat outfits because a) I was shifting around and trying new things all the time and b) it was kind of hard to get a good photo anyway because, like, dinosaurs. But as the pace of fatshion blogging picked up, I began to feel a certain pressure to make each outfit unique – to not repeat previously worn combinations.
I think this was a common feeling and there were some conversations had about the impact of this: the way it eased the way for the commercialization of fatshion blogging but also the way it alienated folks who just couldn’t afford the constant churn. It definitely supported the fast fashion grist mill (and I have a lot of thoughts about fast fashion) by normalizing the idea that every outfit should be unique as well.
The skill of recombination
Many of us crave variety, particularly since we were not allowed it because the plus market was so grim for so long. And I don’t think there’s anything inherently wrong in that. Maybe we’re self-soothing but in the absence of anyone else making the effort, we do what we can.
What I don’t want to see lost is our ability to take familiar articles of clothing and pair them with new things. Beyond that, I don’t want us to lose the ability to love an article of clothing just because we really get comfortable wearing it one way.
This green dress
Recently, I purchased this dress from Torrid. (Obviously I look very different from the model.) The first time I wore it, I loved the outfit. I paired it with a high-necked bralette, cropped leggings, vintage Dr. Martens, and melty plastic avocado earrings.
I wore this dress again on Tuesday to meet a friend from out of town. I wore essentially the same outfit and I cringed at myself, as though I were somehow disrespecting my friend, as if I were not showing the proper amount of enthusiasm for her much-anticipated presence.
Y’all, that is absurd.
(As a note: I am roughly a size 28/30 and I’m wearing that dress in a size 4. It’s olive green, not at all a natural fabric, and I love it a lot. If you’re busty, the neckline is going to plunge directly down into your cleavage, hence the high-necked bralette I’ve layered with it. The sleeves are cap sleeves – this works for layering with jackets and cardigans well but if you’re arm shy this won’t give you coverage on its own. The dress is super 90s and makes no apologies for that. A+, would recommend, especially on sale.)
Fatshion blogging is not reality
Wearing a dress I have worn before is not an insult to a friend. It doesn’t count as “not dressing up” if I repeat not only the wear of an article of clothing but an entire outfit.
I know, I know, it goes against all of my fatshion-loving impulses. Clothes and presentation are super important so they mean things. But getting dressed and going to work and working within the bounds of the space-time continuum are also things and sometimes we just gotta get to the office on time.
Social media is not a lie; but social media in general and fatshion blogging in specific present an equally constructed image without all of the expanding ripples of context. So to measure our own ability to get dressed by a metric designed to apply to glorious artifice is why things like aspirational editorial fashion can be problematic in the first place.
One conversation I think more people are having lately is about the consequences of fast fashion – especially from an environmental perspective. I also want to think about it in emotional terms, because clothing is very much about feeling for me.
What does it mean to be connected to a garment? To have a story for the article of clothing you reach for? Does it mean a greater awareness of the image you are presenting, of the tools you have at your disposal? Does it mean a more thoughtful approach to resourcing in general?
I mean, I don’t know the answer to those questions, not entirely. But those are the questions I’m considering as I get dressed these days, particularly in things I’ve worn a lot or – because this happens, too – owned for a long time and not worn.