As fall approaches, the annual spate of “What to Wear to Look Like a Total Hot Tamale This Fall!” articles are starting to proliferate. In magazines and online, fashion rules and trends are popping up like mushrooms. This season, we’re supposed to aim for a “smoky eye,” and jump onboard fashion trends like the 60s miniskirt (heaven forfend!), metallics (ugh), novelty prints (kill me now), neons (noooooooo…..), and pastels (not going to happen).

I’m depressed just reading about it, but then I have a rather jaded approach to the fashion industry in general, and fashion rules in particular.

However, I do have a secret formula that helps me avoid being driven screaming around the bend by it all: I live outside the law.

Quite a long time ago, I came up with this patented Theory of Personal Adornment:

If you’re never in fashion, you can never be out of fashion.

I know, on the surface of it this makes no sense. Until you really think about it.

Let me explain: if you choose your clothing (or your glasses, your makeup, your hair style, your shoes) based on what pleases you,both aesthetically and comfort-wise, you’ll quickly discover that your choices don’t necessarily fit with whatever happens to be au courant.


And if your choices reflect your own preferences, rather than the ever-changing whims of the fashion industry, you’ll suddenly discover that their fashion rules are irrelevant to you. You cannot possibly be out of fashion, because fashion has no meaning to you. As you pointed out a couple of years ago, this can take you in some amazing, and very freeing, directions.

Fashion rules create desire and fear

This isn’t what the fashion industry wants you to do. Their job, and they’re very good at it, is to convince us that last season’s choices are hopelessly out of date now, and that the only possible remedy is to rush off to the nearest mall and drop big bucks on an entire new wardrobe.

They make their money by creating desire: the desire to fit in, the desire to look hip and of the moment. The desire to buy their stuff, whether it’s miniskirts or leopard prints or metallics.

The flip side of desire is insecurity and fear: fear of missing out, fear of being uncool, fear of looking like that one dork in Grade 12 who didn’t get that elephant pants were no longer a thing, and had been replaced by skinny jeans.

No one wants to be that kid.

Here’s how I side step fashion in my own way:

  1. I never read fashion magazines. I don’t read fashion articles online. I pay absolutely no attention to what’s in, out, hot, new, trending, or about to become big. I don’t care what other people want me to wear. If other people started jumping off bridges, would I do that too? No, I would not.
  2. I buy very little, but when I do get something new, I make sure I really, really, really like it. I don’t just buy it “because it fits and it doesn’t look to bad.” I buy it because I think it’s awesome. Because it makes me grin like a maniac.
  3. I measure an item’s value by using this formula: Price ÷ number of wearings = actual cost. In other words, a cheap t-shirt that cost me $20 and looked like hell after 2 wearings actually cost about $10 per wearing. A woven cotton vest that I bought in 2007 for $180 and have worn at least 100 times and still looks brand new? That cost me about $1.80 per wearing…and it’s still going strong. Within a year, I expect it to be paying me. (Okay, never mind, that made no sense.)
  4. I buy things that make me feel good about myself. Following fashion trends doesn’t do it for me.
  5. I rejoice in the liberation that comes with not allowing anyone else to tell me what I should do.

By the way, as I was writing this, my friend Erin passed through the house. I told her what I was writing, and she said, “You need to title this post ‘Let Your Freak Flag Fly’.”

She’s right. That’s exactly what we all need to do—let our own personal freak flags fly, and to hell with the fashion industry and its minions.

Because on the day when we all stand up and tell the fashion industry where they can stuff their metallic neon pastel animal print 60s miniskirts, we’ll be free. When we all let our freak flags fly strong and proud, we’ll have decided to make our own fashion rules. It’s going to be awesome.

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