a happier time
Do you remember the brief, but glorious, period of time that we had with social media before advertising’s brutal takeover? When what we shared on Instagram was actually an in-the-moment photo of our personal style? Do you remember outfit of the day, #ootd, photos that were interesting and individual, and not #sponsored?
That was a time where (mostly) women shared how they put together an outfit, and not what to buy to copy the exact outfit. I am most definitely idealising that time, but I remember how exciting it was to have real-life inspiration for style, a challenge to the tyranny of mainstream magazines and their surplus of advertisements. But it would seem that in wrenching influence away from editors in tall buildings we also removed the barrier between us and those advertisers with their misogynistic photos.
And now, more than ever before, being ‘into fashion’ means being into shopping, and being able to afford it.
a cruel suggestion
As one does, I was scrolling through Vogue UK’s list of spring/summer ‘19 trends and I stopped upon one that suggests ‘Fruity Suiting’ and lists colours of suit for you to try out. Of course there are photos of runway models wearing various colourful suits, but the section lacks any real information on how to wear a colourful suit. I am not into colourful clothing, but if I were I would want more guidance than a colour suggestion. If I were into colourful clothing I would likely already know which colours make me feel and look good. What I’d really need is to know about the cut of the suit and trousers: skinny, high-waisted, cropped, wide-legged, double-breasted, lapel size, fitted, slouchy…
Photos of runway models are pretty and nice, but they don’t tell me anything about the clothing in terms of how it will work, or not, on me. They don’t help me develop my own personal style. But Vogue doesn’t make money by telling its readers how to empower themselves through clothing, and neither do ‘fashion influencers’ on social media.
We’re not learning anything about clothing in relation to our bodies, or any body type other than runway model, tall and thin, or Insta influencer, thin with blonde hair. As an able-bodied, white, cis woman I am not as familiar with the lack of representation when it comes to women’s bodies unlike my own. But casual observation suggests these women have very little content, magazine or website or Instagram account, that empowers them to use clothing and style in a confident way.
I never thought I would use the beauty industry as an example of progress, but when comparing beauty and fashion, the former is doing a much better job of educating its customers. Beauty and makeup on Instagram and YouTube are still very much about which products to buy, but skin care is one area where women are truly learning how to use it for themselves. With companies like The Ordinary separating out active ingredients into individual serums, along with information about how they work and what to use them with, skin care is highly customisable for anyone’s schedule or budget.
My rather large forehead can get o.i.l.y. but my favourite makeup look is glowy/dewy skin. If I can figure out what kind of skincare and makeup to use to ensure I actually glow, rather than look greasy, why am I still so bad at choosing clothing that fits my body? It can’t be time spent on reading about the topic as I have only recently added skincare and makeup to my interests while I’ve been reading fashion magazines forever.
But money decides who we see in our social media feeds, it decides what kind of content we get from a magazine. And money works for the patriarchy, which refuses to recognise any woman who isn’t already thisclose to the fashion or lifestyle ideal they’re trying to sell.
I would love to spend my money with a clothing brand that doesn’t just put its products on pretty people, but puts them on all kinds of people and empowers them to feel amazing in their clothing. I would love to have my jeans work for me the same way my serums do!