Most of my clothes are currently sitting in a University storage facility approximately five hours from my home in Connecticut. When we had to leave campus back in the spring, I couldn’t take everything I had in my room, and only returned home with one tiny suitcase full of clothing. Despite my best attempts to travel down to Baltimore and retrieve my belongings, I have been thwarted everytime (in new and creative ways at that). After about five major attempts to return to Baltimore, I stopped trying. I’ve decided to wait until the universe allows me to, and then I’ll go down to get my stuff. Quite honestly, it all feels very divine interference to me; I would have to be a fool to ignore the signs.
What I really mean to say is: I’ve been wearing probably the same four or five outfits since the spring, and it’s been driving me up the walls. Before I moved away to college, I donated most of my childhood clothing that no longer fit and very, very slowly built up my closet again. Even now, I don’t own a lot of clothes, and yet, probably 90% of what I do own is sitting in a box somewhere. In essence, I’ve had to improvise. A lot.
Ever since my options have dwindled, I’ve been focusing instead on the art of each piece. A black shirt that says “BAD WITCH”? That’s just how I feel several times a week now. A pastel neapolitan knit sweater? I wear that when I want to add a little bit of brightness and break up my quotidian gothic. An oversized green blazer I found in the back of my closest? Well, that might as well be en vogue. Why? Because I decided it is. Trends are dead, style is forever.
Turns out if you take away someone’s entire closet, they end up spending less time thinking about what they’re wearing. I appreciate each and every single piece of clothing I own a lot more than I did. Every sweater, each pair of jeans, each silly graphic tee — all of these things have stories attached to them now. I’m also wearing each piece a lot more often, and I feel a lot better that what I do have I actually wear, instead of it hidden away to be worn only on occasion. Well, the occasion is always now, and everything I can wear gets worn.
There is an artfulness in simplicity, and a clarity in entropy. Part of me is ashamed about how much of my happiness revolved around a series of articles of clothing. I’m not saying that I was knee-deep in materialism, but I did spend a large amount of time carefully curating my outfit in the morning. And, like any other human, I was influenced by larger fashion trends, whether or not I intended to incorporate those aesthetics into my presentation. Now, quite literally living in the woods, I am removed from all of that. The only people who see what I’m wearing are my family members and my classmates on Zoom (and they only see from my shoulders up!). The only fashion influences I have are myself, what I watch, and …. the trees?
One of those rare influences has been the show Schitt’s Creek. While ostensibly an endearing show about family and cultivating love, it also has been a major source of fashion inspiration. The characters of Moira, and especially David, wear extremely extravagant clothing that is somehow rather simple at the same time. On top of that, all of their outfits are monochrome or duochrome (black and white). And, as the resident goth at Marque Magazine, how could I not be inspired? It’s not that the clothing they’re wearing is the most out-there, bizarre thing ever, but it comes off that way. Their style radiates the essence of opulence and the avant-garde, without being obvious. Really, it’s the commitment to a singular aesthetic vision that accomplishes the feeling of the avant-garde.
I’ve taken notes, and I’m more focused on how confident I am in what I wear now, and not exactly whether it looks good — what a troublesome word, one dictated by larger societal norms. I say wear whatever you want, and to hell with everything else. What is style, really, but one’s own vision? And no one, absolutely no one, has the right to tell you that your vision is wrong. Perhaps it’s not exactly what they would wear, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have a right to wear it. One time when a random classmate asked me why I dress the way I do, what I affectionately call goth prep, I replied, “Well, what other way would I dress?” Style is at its best when we listen to ourselves. Sometimes that does mean following larger trends and that’s completely okay! But most of the time, it means wearing our own aesthetic and feeling infinitely better in that.
This time with a limited closet has been as liberating as it has been difficult. Everything I wear feels somehow less and more intentional at the same time. Because I’m less focused on composing an outfit, I can focus more on the presentation and how I feel in it. Improving my comfort level, while still looking how I want to look, has been a big part of this process. While I can’t say that I feel quite as confident as I would in some of my more intricate outfits, I will say that my general confidence in what I do wear has increased. And, bit by bit, I am gaining clarity as to what I want my singular aesthetic vision to be. My life is avant-garde, it is goth, it is experimental so ultimately anything I wear will reflect that. Why box myself in with how I expect I should look, when I can instead wear whatever the hell I want? And so, one day, when I am reunited with that elusive cardboard box containing the rest of my clothing, I will appreciate it all a great deal more. Not simply because I have it, but because I will be able to wear it exactly how I want: unabashed and unashamed.