The Stories Behind Our Clothes

Imagine: your phone chimes and you look down and it’s a text from that cute guy you met in JDH yesterday. He says he’s free tonight, and wants to know if you’d like to grab a bite to eat.

Tastefully, you reply, “Sure, my earlier plans just got cancelled, so I’m free,” knowing full well that your only other plans that night was to binge watch Gossip Girl for the seventh time on Netflix and pig out on chips. He replies with a simple, “:)” and then you start to panic.

What am I going to wear?!

After hours of digging through your closet, you finally decide on your trusty black bodycon dress and nude pumps. Shortly after, your cutie arrives at the door - in jeans and a hoodie?

This is an experience that we girls know all too well. It’s an annoying phenomenon called being “overdressed," or similarly, “underdressed." Suddenly, your itchy dress becomes that much itchier, your strapless bra has suddenly migrated south, and your shoes might as well be made of cinderblocks. You can’t help but adjust your clothes and wish you’d opted for something more comfortable.

You feel embarrassed, excluded, and you’re very aware that you stick out like a sore thumb - but Sheila Heti, Heidi Julavits, Leanne Shapton (and 639 others) say that you should embrace whatever outfit you wear, even if it doesn’t always fit the situation.

These three women are the authors of the book Women in Clothes, a book that, “explores the wide range of motives that inform how women present themselves through clothes, and what style really means.”

In an earlier experiment, they invited a large group of women to a formal conference and asked them, “Who here is wearing something they feel is awkward, wish they hadn’t worn it, and could go home and change?” The majority of the women raised their hand.

Heti, Julavits, and Shapton wanted to know why women feel this way - and a simple answer is that women feel they are being judged.

In a university environment like STU, you see women all around campus with different styles and different definitions of “trendy." Sometimes, it's easy to feel out of place when your definition doesn’t match up - especially in a place where we are expected to dress and act like adults.

However, these lovely ladies stand firm in their opinion that we, as women, should embrace our style and our fashion choices, even if they don’t fit the mold. After all, our clothes have a story to tell. So, whether you feel like you chose the wrong clothes or the right ones, you chose each piece for a reason.

I thought this was an interesting view on fashion, and one that we don't always think about. So, I decided to go around on the STU campus and ask a few different women how they feel about the clothes they are wearing and what the story behind their clothing is. Take a look at these three lovelies and their answers:

Riley Hoyt, First Year

“I really like what I’m wearing today. Usually, I feel more comfortable in a dress, but I really enjoy this outfit.”

The Story Behind Her Shirt:

“My dad actually picked this out for me. He went out shopping with my mom and he knows that I love plaid, and he came back home and said, ‘Riley, I got you this new shirt and you’re gonna love it!' It was a little strange that he picked it out for me. I guess that means that we have the same fashion sense!”

Carley Smith, First Year

“Yeah, I’d say that I like what I’m wearing. I mean, I wear a lot of leggings, so I definitely feel comfortable in them. I don’t really like to dress up for school all the time - especially in this weather! It’s so cold.”

The Story Behind Her Boots:

“This is the second time I’ve purchased these boots. It’s so frustrating because they’re pretty crappy quality and they always break on me. They bring bad times.”

Jordyn Hannah, Second Year

“I like what I’m wearing. I like comfy clothes.”

The Story Behind Her Clothes:

“There isn’t really a story behind my clothes, and I don’t know if this counts, but I’m going to a concert tonight and I wanted to look good.”

Check out "Women in Clothes" online here.

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