Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Does This Go?

    How many times we have either said this, or heard it said when we are considering our clothing, and what to combine with what.  When we ask ourselves, "Does it work? Can I do this?" we are doing far more than just trying to suss out whether the colors work together.
    We bring to this process, (mostly unconsciously) the entire array of Attire mechanics that make the whole language work in the first place.  We consider color, volume, size, shape, texture, purpose and pattern.  All of this we do with surprising speed, and ease, most of the time. It is easy for us often because we have certain combinations of things we have assembled before that we know work together well, because we have either determined so directly, or because we have been repeatedly complimented about it.
    Also, living in a  consumer culture which supplies us moment by moment with options that tell us what articles are meant to go with others, we can if we wish, choose from among these endless pre-configured statements.  In fact, such behavior as this is a good deal of why so many people end up dressing very similarly.  It takes a lot of stress away from the process to have an already assembled set of Attire words, so your expression is to hand, and easy for others to comprehend.  What it can end up being though, is a form of visual slang.  It becomes a commonly held phrase or sentence repeated by thousands, casually, that ends up having little meaning beyond, "I'm part of this group."  So, what we gain in simplicity of construction, we threaten with loss of individual meaning.
    Now, for some of us, this is entirely our conscious choice.  For some the desire to speak something clear and unique with apparel is not the goal. The goal is to fit in without comment, to be taken as a silent member of the mass of community.  For some this is because of fear of getting it wrong, of somehow saying the wrong sartorial thing, and thereby getting social disapproval. For some it is simply because they have no interest in taking an active part in the conversation that is Attire.  And for still others it is an act of defiance.
    "Does this go?" becomes a call of reassurance.  We seek the counsel of others and scrutinize ourselves minutely. Why? Because we understand that this thing we are about to do will have an impact on those around us, which in its turn will affect how we seem to them, and how they respond to us.  It certainly can seem like a bad thing, this reliance on the reactions of others.  But looking at it another way, it is part of how we navigate the society in which we live.  We speak a segment of ourselves, and by doing so we are recognized, and allowed passage within the culture.
    In a perfected society, we could perhaps get along without this need to make sure that others readily understand what we mean when we speak Attire.  We would simply accept that each person had their own way of expressing themselves. We could in time reach this place, where difference is glorified, and it would be a matter to inspire interest, not dismissal.  That time, if we ever reach it is long away from us.  We have to deal with a lot of insecurities first before we could create a society that does not judge negatively as a default response.
    Until that day, "Does this go?" will continue to be a question of importance to a huge number of people.

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