If you hate to shop, look not to the algorithm, but to your creativity
I recently came upon an ad whose message was directed at certain high powered women who have “better things to do than shop”. This would undoubtedly resonate with the ambitious and the over-scheduled, those of us who can hardly spare a minute of our energy to anything but the pressing demands at hand.
Isn’t it fitting, then, that the tech world and its compatriots should alleviate us of the arduous and often time consuming task of putting together a wardrobe. Subscription based fashion businesses like Stitch Fix have built entire business models around this very philosophy—that we have better things to do than shop—and as a solve, will deliver prefabricated outfit options by way of personal stylists and algorithms directly to one’s doorstep.
The idea of no-brainer fashion—be it in the form of subscription-based clothing or in unfussy options—does fulfill the critical need to wear clothes—a need which might otherwise be neglected. These brands understand that no matter what it is that you are up to, fundamentally it is impossible to face the world confidently without proper attire. And for the time starved, ready to made outfits are appealing. As a bonus, there is an underlying sense of aspiration and achievement— you have delegated the task of dressing yourself to someone else.
And while it does provide a solution for many, it also plays off of a very traditional, even conservative idea that an interest in fashion isn’t worth your precious time and should be relegated to the superficial. This staid line of thinking is why we are left with unadventurous business suiting or with stereotypical pictures of the smart writer/professor clad in a moth bitten tweed jacket. Presumably, we are enculturated into believing that those who occupy posts in intellectually demanding professions also have better things to do than shop.
Yet dressing can be an intellectual exercise in itself. To conjure a well-planned structure to carry one through the season, complete with considerations such as proportion, color, silhouette—even weather and occasion can be a sophisticated and nuanced exercise. Giving someone else license to dress us is to forfeit an aesthetic opportunity to think through how we wish to perceived and how that will manifest itself in our clothing.
And this fall, I am craving not only a new wardrobe but the kind of innovative thinking that challenges deeply rooted beliefs and stereotypes that live in our culture. In the absence of a well-functioning government and/ or eloquent statesman (we all miss you, Barack), the responsibility to promote ideas that will enrich, nurture and ultimately benefit not only the individual but the culture at large will fall to American companies with whom we interface daily.
So I am for promoting the idea that fashion is a celebration of our livelihood and that leaving this space open to someone else to decide (or algorithm) is to forgo the central joy that is inherent to dressing: the opportunity to form a personal philosophy of dress- a philosophy that is a reflection of one’s creativity and in accordance with one’s own self-fashioning.