There are plenty of folks out there who think that people who have an interest in fashion have nothing powerful or intelligent to say. Fashion and style are too superfluous to merit any real attention, they scoff.
But this theory overlooks the fact that we live in a social world dominated by appearances and first impressions, as the great sociologist Erving Goffman spent his career theorizing. When we get dressed in the morning for a job interview or a date as for a night on the town, we are putting on first impressions. People who say they don’t care about style still live in the same appearance-focused world as everybody else, so “not caring” about fashion is still a fashion choice.
My second or third day in London — I’ve been here about two months now — I was on the night bus going to who even knows what club when I saw these two fabulous black women and they were dressed to impress. They were definitely “turning looks,” and I wanted to be wherever they were going because it was probably going to be fabulous.
At one point two guys got on the bus, looked at these two apparitions of sartorial beauty and sassed, “There’s a lot of fierce looks going on right here!,” snapping their fingers and feeling overjoyed with emotion.
Having a great style is on the one hand about expressing oneself and expressing a type of self-love, but on the other it’s also a way of connecting to someone emotionally, even if just for a few seconds, and even if you don’t say a word to them.
For me, this is the real work (werk? were? work!) of style. Running into a person with a great sense of self-presentation produces a range of reactions in us, and I always find people’s reactions to amazing style an interesting place to think about the power style has for us as for the wearer.
Anyway, style is effervescent, transformative and has the power to change the dynamics of a room — or a sidewalk. MADISON