Remember in 7th grade art class when the teacher would tell you that in order to draw something accurately, you had to sketch it as you truly saw it rather than as you knew it to look? The ability to untangle a garment from your own preconceived notions about its intended use is a similar form of No-Context Nirvana.
Dressing our bodies, in its simplest interpretation, calls for covering ourselves with fabric. And while fabric is cut with certain body parts in mind, no one’s printing the rules on our receipts. They’re just suggestions! Maybe even vague ones, if we’re willing to be called Wacky. Which I totally am. And not just because I often wink like a doll in a horror film and intend to have several nieces and nephews who come to me with their best kept secrets. I’m so off-topic. I do love aunts, though.
One might call Leandra Medine the queen of the reimagined garment. Where you see a button-down, she sees a tube top, a cape, a skirt, etc. She knows better than anyone that buttons are buttons, no matter what they’re closed around, and that openings are openings, no matter what limbs are poking through. Which is why I gave her the task, completely unsolicited, of creating two different outfits using identical elements.
And she was like, “Duh.”
I basically just asked her to breathe.
This is what she exhaled:
Lewk #1. Summer Mermaid.
If rules were printed on receipts then this would be Leandra’s attempt at following them: shirt as shirt, skirt as skirt. Standard.
Things Ashley (that’s her ^) could do in this outfit: pick up some prosciutto from the corner store, deliver a book proposal, buy a new iPhone, ride a horse through a garden, tell a dude to fuck off. It should also be noted that she could eat several large meals, comfortably, and never once have to deal with her hair.
Lewk #2. Summer Superhero.
As a summer superhero, Ashley’s possibilities shift. Shirt becomes skirt. Skirt becomes cape. Scarf becomes bandeau. Now she could: walk 62 blocks, save a baby from danger, relax on a roof, literally create wind, drink kombucha, tell a dude to mind his own damn business. She might be doing a Rubik’s cube under her cape, but that wouldn’t be our business either.
Both of these women seem equally compelling to me and the best part is: they’re the very same. Summer Mermaid could become Summer Superhero during one quick elevator ride. Or maybe from day to night. Work to dinner. Bar to club? Pick your transitional poison and give it a whirl.
Special thanks to our lovely model Ashley Adelberg; follow her on Instagram @ashleyadelberg. Styled by Leandra Medine, photographed by Krista Anna Lewis.