I can understand why people at times do not see discussing the sartorial choices of others as important; why it comes off as frivolous and shallow. In the light of how disposable clothing has become by way of fast fashion, how the cheapness plays into its temporary shelf life, it’s easy to see why the conversation about fashion could seem unfulfilling. I mean a trend can be over in five minutes and I am not even exaggerating. I believe it’s the main reason why sensational sartorial choices by political leaders are forgotten and somewhat forgiven after a few weeks.
Nevertheless, whatever the cost, supply chain specifics or personal factors behind our clothing choices, they will always mange to say something about who we are. A person purchasing fast fashion on a regular basis could be seen as someone who does not know his/her true self hence the need to experiment or be frugal. On the other hand, sticking to a particular brand or style could seen as more stable as it relates to intentional values and principles. There is no trick, we are what we wear in that moment in time.
Take for example the sartorial choices of Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex in her most publicized public appearances like the Queen’s Young Leaders Award, Royal Ascot and her wedding. The outfits were all created by designers whose fashion houses/ateliers are in countries in the European Union. This can be compared with her sister-in-law Kate, the Duchess of Cambridge, who usually opts for British-based designers like Alexander McQueen and Emilia Wickstead, whose fashion houses are in the United Kingdom. Meghan’s choices are not chance or mistake but a deliberate silent show of support for the importance of trade and business in the European Union given the social and economic uncertainty Brexit has brought.
We get up every morning and our clothing choices are deliberate, they are the way in which we want the world to see us; some people do it for media attention, others because it’s personal choice.
A few days ago, when Melania Trump, First Lady of the United States of America, wore a Zara ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ jacket from seasons ago to visit children who had been separated from their parents while seeking refugee status, it was an elitist and insensitive move; it was also intentional. Think about it, which First Lady truly has Zara pieces lingering in her White House wardrobe? And then its Melania who is known for her jackets with five-figure prices and her obsession with Christian Louboutin heels.
Of course, the discussion over her jacket could be seen as trivial, when compared to the situation of American imprisoning children and separating them their parents. But in a broader sense, Melania’s sartorial choice would have further influenced and widened the social and economic class systems at play here. It put the stamp on it being socially okay to turn your back on troubling social issues and develop the ‘we vs them’ society.
So yes, the jacket may just be a piece of clothing, but the long-term damage and social conditioning it magnifies makes it more than a jacket. It makes it a significant turning point in it being okay to be classist, elitist and selfish.
With everything we do there are repressions, while they may not affect us directly, they impact things on a larger scale over a longer period of time. For example, our obsession with disposable cheap clothes, is one of the reasons why there is so much pollution. Clothes might be cheap and more readily available to all, but that doesn’t mean that they are trivial. If anything, it means we must explore and examine our consumption patterns even more because they do have an effect socially, economically and environmentally.