The Identity of Fashion: It’s Not All Material

I recently had a conversation with my father who was worried because allegedly I “post too many pictures of shoes” to my Facebook profile.     As a Burning Man veteran with no interest in clothing unless there’s a Star Wars reference involved, my Dad perceived my love of fashion as shallow and materialistic.   No, this article isn’t about why you should limit your parents’ privacy settings on Facebook. What I want to address is the misperception that an enthusiasm for fashion is simply materialism.

Tory Burch faux python satchel

Retail therapists across the world are pros at rationalizing nearly every emotional purchase they make.   Sure, life can take a turn for the materialistic when you invest in a Tory Burch snakeskin satchel instead of paying this month’s rent on time.   However, we often lose sight of how fashion supports personal identity and not just the arches of our feet.   As a 20-something, perpetually curious about the applications of peplum, I believe it’s important to step back from the stiletto and reflect on how fashion allows us to grow, and not just when it comes to our shoe collections.


True You: Fashion is self-expressive.   Do you want to break boundaries with denim or look put together in pearls?   Neither is right nor wrong, but every time you get dressed you’re making a choice about how you’d like others to perceive you.   Studies show 89% of communication between two people is nonverbal, and the way you dress is the sartorial anthem you preach through your nonverbal megaphone.


Try-Sexual: Fashion is experimental.   Through your choices in clothing, you’re able to try on new shades of your identity.   Feel rock n roll?   There’s a studded denim vest for that.   Feel like tea time?   There’s a cardigan with lace overlay for that.   Humans are multidimensional and with fashion we’re able to experiment with pattern and material just as we do with relationships and career paths.   Your identity evolves and fashion allows you to celebrate that process in an external way.


Beyond Brocade: Fashion is an extension of you.   Clothing transcends its physical materials and allows us to express confidence, sexuality or personality depending on its application.   It reflects our moods, or perhaps even how we’d like to feel.   There’s nothing like putting on a pair of colored jeans to strut away the Monday Blues. There’s a reason why you put your best shoe forward on an interview, or emblazon your extremities with jewels for a first date.


While it’s easy to get caught up in who’s wearing what and from what runway it came, fashion fundamentally serves as a reflection of an individual’s identity.   Free yourself from the confines of trends and seasonal traditions.   Fashion is about the celebrating the individual, not the material.