The Street Style Debate: Are We Robots (or Are We Dancer)?

When it comes to personal style, I mean. Not Halloween costumes.

10.09.15

If you are interested in looking like you are fresh off the heels of fashion month, there are three easy and distinct ways to achieve that facade.

1) You can wear a pair of Chanel slingbacks, the only shoes that were shown at the Fall 2015 collection presentation.

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2) You can wear a pair of Gucci fur slides.

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Or 3) You can wear Vetements’ floral dress, also from Fall 2015.

The Vetements dress seen 'round Paris Fashion Week. Photographed by Phil Oh via Vogue.com

It’s weird, you know, that you can look so precisely one way by simple virtue of a pair of shoes. Even weirder, though, is that we willingly elect to look like each other.

I’m guilty of proprietorship over both pairs of the enlisted shoes (the slingbacks are elegant, the slippers are comfortable, I love both with zero regrets). But I have to admit that by the end of Paris Fashion Week, I felt uncomfortable wearing either — like I was showing up at the club in a bandage skirt and spikey, red-sole pumps. Because back then, when we did that, we weren’t trying to make a style statement, right? We were trying to fit in. And nothing smells quite as pungent as that stench of desperation.

I was sitting at a show last Tuesday in a skirt and a blouse and a yellow sweater. And the Gucci loafers. I watched a flurry of well-dressed publicists ushering people to their seats. They were not wearing the typical black but were all wearing a different kind of uniform — clunky shoes and a-line, mid-length skirts. Instead of getting the sense that these women were conveying individuality, they looked hyper-homogenous. I looked down at myself and thought: where have all the weirdos gone? Where is the personal style?

When I’m in Paris, I often try to wear things I’m not normally inclined to wear. I don’t know if that’s because I’m away and therefore feel like I should be assuming an identity removed from my own, but what invariably happens is that I try on the new thing, don’t feel like myself and then revert back to jeans and a button down. It occurred to me on this trip that there’s a reason that happens.

You can’t co-opt jeans and a shirt.

You can’t impose your own rhetoric on the sentence that’s already been written. Constructed with choice, plain-as-toast garments. And by the fell addition of a couple rings here, a choker there, ridiculous shoes down south, boom! You’re exclamating, too.

But I wonder, what do we try to get at by looking like each other? By falling in love with the things that we see in excess (example: I never thought I needed a pair of patent leather boots with a lucite heel until the Dior show in Paris, when they were worn by nearly every single female foot in the venue by the Louvre) and then attempt to own ourselves? Do we want to show the world that we, too, “get it”? That we’re quick on the uptake, aware of what’s in? Is it a matter of self-actualization? Or are we simply getting lazy — cultivating identity using the references before us instead of the ones within us?

I don’t know, but I’m back in my slingbacks.

Photos by Diego Zuko via Harper’s Bazaar, WhoWhatWear, and Phil Oh via Vogue; Feature collage by Elizabeth Tamkin

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