I posted a picture of myself wearing the photographed high waist blue jeans last week on Instagram. Accompanying the photo was a caption that read, “Case study: this is how all jeans should look right now.” I was also wearing a navy blue cashmere v-neck sweater over a white turtleneck and a pair of brown wedge boots. You wouldn’t have been able to identify my belly button if the fate of your life depended on it and I loved that. Almost as much, I should add, as I did the entire outfit.
Recently, someone commented on another Instagram selfie of mine (I was wearing an ivory turtleneck over a tunic and a pair of ripped jeans with gold sneakers) asking a fellow commenter if she thought I got dressed simply to live up to the Man Repeller alias. A conversation went on for about four exchanges until they decided my style seemed authentic enough to be as repulsive as Instagram makes it seem (which I took as a galling compliment) at which point, I was reminded of the deluge of comments that populated that first photo.
Overall, it garnered 7,242 likes and 306 comments. Some of them were incredibly complimentary and therefore reinforcing, though the ratio of those to the more negative — “I had to stop following her, this is too bad,” “High waisted and camel toe, never a good idea,” “I hope you don’t actually go out like that,” and my personal favorite, “Sometimes trying to not be cool is seriously just not at all cool in a very not cool way, but like an ‘OMG this is a dumb outfit that shouldn’t be worn by even the “hippest” person ever’ way” — was probably 1:3.
Which, frankly, is fine. More than fine. It’s part of the process. It’s expected. It’s important. It’s even welcome. Through every motion of building and maintaining a persona, there is supposed to remain a baseline understanding that when you throw yourself into the public domain, you hope that what you put out will stick but that of course, it doesn’t always.
Here’s the thing, though. I understand what sticks (outfits that look less disheveled, tend to include my wearing mascara and maybe a pair of earrings) vs. what doesn’t (high waist ill-fit jeans, baggy coats — the majority of the Man Repeller feed) and yet, I electively continue to put out what doesn’t. So I’ve been thinking about why and I’ve concluded that it’s because honesty on the Internet is important. And that sense of candor starts unilaterally.
I like — nay, love — these pants. They’re me. I know they don’t look good but I think they’re cool. They make me feel like a more interesting version of myself and that, to me, is what style is about: presenting a difficulty and attempting to unpack it or make sense of it. I can’t tell you exactly why I like them but I can sharply recall having never really cared for pants that do the things we’re supposed to expect of them: flatten our stomachs, tighten our asses, makes our legs look longer and leaner, yadi ya. Maybe that’s a function of my believing that fashion is not about what’s flattering and vice versa or maybe this is simply a matter of style. And the thing about style, like with everything else, is that if you believe in it, you have to be willing to fight for it.