And there sat five of my closest friends in similar versions of my own look, practically matched from head-to-toe.
They say that fingerprints exist either to enhance our grip or boost our sense of touch — scientists still aren’t 100% sure, but what we do know fingerprints to be useful for is identifying individuals.
That identification point is important. We’re all on an endless quest to differentiate ourselves, whether it be at work or at school or from a sibling. And we do this in a variety of ways: studying hard, being a trouble maker, making our talents known. The most obvious and immediate channel, of course, is to do it with what we wear.
During my adolescent punk phase when Abercrombie had just become a thing, I’d feel a sense of pride when I was the only one present in a band tee pierced with safety pins. Paradoxically, there was great relief when I found myself surrounded by others who shared my taste in ripped plaid and Manic Panic.
We all want to stand out. Be individuals. But sometimes there’s very real comfort to blending in.
This is easy to forget when you work in or follow fashion. Because everyone is so entrenched in trends and getting sick of the same things around the same time, there’s a similar look that nearly everyone adopts that changes from season to season. Each person has their standout pieces, yes, but when you’re in the thick of it you can spot the uniform. In fact, whether you realize it or not, you’re probably wearing the uniform right now. And yet because fashion feels like a tiny community of people who express themselves through clothes, leaving your community — whether it be to commute, go grocery shopping, visit your hometown or attend the party of a friend whose group has no clue (or care) as to who Alessandro Michele is, you get to stand out again. You look a little weird or off in that satisfying way.
For me, a relatively quiet dresser, this feeling is most prominent during fashion week. I look forward to meeting non-industry friends after a show and getting to be the one in the remarkable shoes. But once the 7 whirlwind days are over and I’ve immersed back into the regular world, I begin to find myself blending again. Back to basic. Back to regular. Back to normal.
On the night I first mentioned where I showed up to a table of accidental twins, I spent the first portion of the evening wondering to myself what else I could have worn, or changed, to make my outfit different. A billion things, I suppose. If you push through the racks of collared shirts and crew necks in my closet, I’ve got a few show-stoppers. A trophy jacket. A novel knit. Some decent shoes.
But once I finally relaxed into the night I decided it didn’t matter. When you’re laughing at dumb jokes with good friends, what really is there to prove? My fingerprints are different from theirs. And it was a Friday — I considered it a victory I got dressed at all.