I don’t know what to write this blog about. I’ve been saying these things alot lately, phrases upon phrases that start with those three little words: I don’t know. I don’t know what I want to eat. I don’t know why my wifi still won’t allow me to watch one Zoom lecture without kicking me out. I don’t know what to wear. I don’t know how to dress for a busy day within the confines of my row home in Baltimore, Maryland. That last one really hits hard, because, as someone who always used to base her outfits around a carefully selected pair of shoes, I’ve been a little uninspired to dress myself for an event that is shoes optional, and in my house, shoes prohibited. And with my foothold for my personal fashion no longer available, I, the Director of Style for Marque Magazine, am questioning why fashion ever appealed to me at all. I mean, did I only ever like fashion because of the compliments I received from my peers as I was walking through the halls? And now that I can’t receive that attention, is my passion for style stripped away like dirty laundry at the end of the day? Such questions really make you question what matters to you and the basis by which you make decisions each and every morning, and in truth, I can’t remember the first time I fell in love with fashion.
Maybe it was the rush of excitement I got after returning from the mall for back to school shopping, eager to show the rest of my family what I picked out and deciding for myself what new pieces would go with those which I already had. Maybe it was the first time my sister exposed me to thrift shopping and the realization I made soon after that every article had a story, a previous owner with memories attached to the very piece of fabric I had stumbled upon in the treasure hunt whose only clues were the smell of a hundred different detergents mingling together and a wheel at the front of the store telling you the color of the week. Maybe it was the feeling I got after losing something that seemed so important to me at the time in highschool that the only remaining power I had to prove to the rest of the world I was still standing was a bold lip and a stunning pair of heels. Considering this idea that the only true strength I may have had left relied on my appearance makes me seem so surface level, but I know I’m not the only one.
I see myself in the blue felt belt on display in the Holocaust museum, a belt that was found and secretly worn by a German Jewish teenage inmate at Auschwitz who described it as her ‘pathetic act of defiance’, yet something she is still proud of. I see myself in the signature, fiery red lipstick of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who feels it not only boosts her confidence in politics, but also connects her to her Latina heritage. I see myself in my beloved Grandmother who was never allowed to wear pants growing up, yet of whom I don’t have a single memory of dressed in anything but the most striking pantsuit and blazer combo, paired, of course, with a matching earring and necklace set.
Something about fashion seems to give each of us a small and subtle opportunity to tell the world it can’t control us. Somehow woven threads of cotton, silk, and polyester give us the power to speak in opposition of the threads of time that fate has woven for us. So why then, at a time when things are most uncertain and undeniably at their worst, does the feeling to fight back with fashion not call me? Why then, despite encouraging other people to dress for Zoom, can I only drive myself to do so at a maximum of 3 days a week? Again, I don’t know. But what I do know is that the passion that I’ve had for as long as I can remember will call again, and when it does, I’ll be ready.