Fashion is stupid. It’s shallow. It’s both derivative and evanescent, which means you have to constantly spend money to stay up-to-date with clothes that are cycling rapidly through ideas from the past. Stylish clothes are a luxury, and luxury means exclusivity, and exclusivity means high fashion remains unattainable save for the wealthy few. It’s snobby, class-driven and one could say that fashion is capitalism at it ludicrous worst. Look at Karl Lagerfeld, for god’s sake.
But under fashion’s surface silliness deeper meaning exists: a longing for beauty, The cut of the fabric hinting at the unclothed body beneath, the way color and feel of fabrics evoke emotions and memories, how fine silk apes the touch of skin on skin. What one chooses to wear, as much as the openness or mystery in one’s face, is a form of self-expression. It part and parcel of a first impression.
And style really doesn’t have much to do with money. It’s about understanding yourself, understanding what looks good on you. Rather, what clothes make you look like you at any given moment and mood. Put two people side by side in a white t-shirt and jeans. I guarantee that the person who understands themselves better will look glamorous even though they might have spent $45 on their Levis and the other person may have spent $1,995 on Dolce and Gabbana distressed nightmares.
In 1996, Sharon Stone wore Gap to the Oscars. Sharon Stone looked stunning. Sharon Stone has style.
I’ve thought a lot about this paradox the last couple of days after seeing the flak jacket Melania Trump chose to wear when she flew to Texas to visit the children her husband has ripped away from their parents. As I’m sure you know by now, written on the back were the words “I really don’t care. Do u?”
The temperature was eight-six degrees on June twentieth in Washington DC. It was close to one hundred degrees at the Upbring New Hope—you can’t make this stuff up—Children’s Shelter in McAllen. The jacket wasn’t necessary. She wore it coming and going but changed into a tan fitted jacket once she entered the facility.
Leaders throughout history have known the power of fashion: Louis XIV, controlling his aristocracy by demanding they adhere to elaborate rituals of dress so they wouldn't have time or energy to plot against him. Queen Victoria's era of buttoned up primness, when the use of the word "leg" was considered to be scandalous. Jackie Kennedy's classic, simple elegance, which helped transform a quintessential American family into monarchy. "Reagan Red," was not an accident. Nancy Reagan knew that blood-red color would make her diminutive frame seem larger than life and used it cleverly to intimidate everyone around her. Michelle Obama specifically chose approachable, unintimidating clothes like, J.Crew. She wanted to project that the Obamas were a normal family placed in an extraordinary circumstance. Her clothes were simple, casual and slightly preppy. A whisper to white people: "See, we dress like you. We're not so scary, are we?"
Melania Trump was a model. Her job was all about clothes or the lack thereof. She is a rich woman. I would guess most of what she wears on a daily basis costs thousands of dollars. Everything is form-fitting and sleek. But the day she went to visit these figuratively orphaned children, Mrs. Trump wore an ill-fitting, thirty-nine dollar jacket from Zara. I think even I have outgrown Zara. Stand too close to a radiator with Zara clothes and you’d better hope you’re standing next to a fire extinguisher as well.
People on twitter and on the news were outraged and stunned. The First Lady’s spokesperson scoffed at the criticism:
However, the next day Melania’s craven, idiot husband tweeted this:
So which is it, Melania? Is the dumbest hashtag ever actually correct? Or did you care to choose to wear that Zara jacket to show us how much you don’t care?
Just as our very sane and smart President always does, he blew up the carefully-crafted lie with his own sloppy lie. Uncovering the coverup of the cover-up.
I don’t know the exact reason why Melania wore that specific jacket, but I doubt it had anything to do with her husband’s rabid obsession with the Fake News. What I do know is that considering the context of her acting as her husband’s better half, choosing that particular jacket to visit parentless children was uncaring to the highest degree. One might say it was nihilistic That jacket was ugly in every possible way.
So yes, that Zara jacket is very cheap and stupid. But sometimes you can judge a book by it’s cover. And Melania’s jacket reveals the Trump family’s psychological horrorshow that lies deep in the pages of their autobiography.
And I hope the bigotry, the cruelty, the sickness, the xenophobia, the tackiness and the pervasive nihilism of the Trump reign will be out of fashion sooner rather than later. I hope we fight. I hope we look back at this present cancerous era like we’re looking at old photos of ourselves in high school and screaming “What the hell was I wearing? Why did you let me go out like that?’
Moreover, I hope that we never stop caring about what we say, what we do and how we can help people who are hurting. So if Melania is asking us if we care, the answer is “We Do.”
There’s a brand new dance
But I don’t know its name
That people from bad homes
Do again and again
It’s big and it’s bland
Full of tension and fear
They do it over there but we don’t do it here.
—Fashion, by David Bowie