Why Are We All Dressing Like the Most Pared Down Versions of Ourselves?

Consider this a cry against normcore.

03.12.14

This morning, I put on a navy blue poplin turtleneck, a pair of mid-rise, slouchy fit white jeans and a black leather jacket. It took no longer than five minutes to get dressed from the moment of outfit inception to the actual process of leg-in-pant, arm-in-sleeve and so forth. Then, I stood against my shoes, head tilted to shoulder, wondering why I couldn’t just do what I always do: put on my white low top sneakers and get on with my day.

I tried on a pair of beige suede boots. Too western. Another pair in black patent leather. Weird with jeans. Then I put on one egg-shell colored high heeled brogue but stopped myself before applying the second shoe: I don’t feel like wearing heels — why am I putting on heels?

So I settled on a pair of white patent leather Ferragamo Icona slippers. The kind with the two-inch heel that make me feel like my grandmother during her 1967 heyday.

But far more interesting than my decision to wear the ballet flats seems to have been my decision not to wear the white sneakers. They’ve been my go-to shoes — the apple to my eve, the lamb to my tuna fish, the 463,782,472 page views to my BuzzFeed gif list — since the early portion of 2012 so for me to reject them now, to find myself having to think about what will and should happen south of my ankle just seems, I don’t know, unnatural.

The thing is, I think I also know exactly why this is happening — it is normcore’s fault.

Now that fashion has identified a term to describe the cues that initiated members of this large, Philo-obsessed cult with which to some degree we all associate ourselves have been taking, I don’t really want to be part of it. That feeling has only been further propelled by the realization that when I got home from Paris last week, I very atypically found myself less inspired than before I went.

I’ve been covering Paris Fashion Week for five seasons and in those seasons, I have learned that when I come home, I come home incredibly stimulated. The same way you might find yourself feeling ready to write a novel after reading Nora Ephron or Dave Eggers, or ready to run a marathon after a dose of caffeine, I have historically found myself looking into my closet post-Paris, rediscovering garments I’d previously dubbed old or boring or stale as indelibly new. Those jeans, that dress, those jeans to wear under that dress, that skirt — which I can wear over the same dress — and so on.

This piquancy customarily comes from what happens outside the shows. Say what you will about street style peacocks and the craft’s nature as a new-age billboard but watching the way real humans interact with fashion, no matter how unattainable — Valentino gowns and Comme des Garcons denim jackets or Chanel tweed trousers and Anthony Vaccarello leather blouses — will always, to a certain degree, be attainably inspiring.

Far more inspiring, at least, than plebeian sweatpants and sneakers and hoodies or black jeans and navy sweaters and unassuming flat boots. Sure, those items are currently¬†de rigeur¬†but after the novelty wears off — and it wears off quickly — they’re also decidedly boring.

So consider this a plea against the adoptive paladins of normcore. Fashion has always been a vehicle that allowed a benign mode of escapism, a fantastical game of dress up and an outlet that allows a woman’s creativity to flow like a river that is densely populated by freak flags. Why change that?

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