Dressed to Express
Posted on June 23 2018
Earlier this week, I spent an afternoon perusing online stores for the most ‘suitable’ skinny jeans. You might ask, what is a suitable skinny jean? With regards to clothing, suitable definitely varies from person to person, as we all have our own preferences and style. Suitable clothing, for me, are form fitting/ flattering, colour coordinated with the rest of my wardrobe, presentable and of course, comfortable. Perhaps you prefer tight or baggy clothing – it’s all subjective. Still, for most of us, our attire does more than cover our bodies and keep us warm – our clothing are an emblem of our persona, an expression of our character, that’s why personal style is so important.
However, for some reason, the words ‘fashion’ and ‘style’ are frowned upon, perhaps due to our pigeonholing with magazines and overdone pop culture trends. It seems that whenever we hear these words, we immediately associate them with vanity. Now, if you look closely, fashion can be used to convey many things (along with vanity) – from informative t-shirts supporting worthwhile causes, to carefully selected accessories; our apparel might not only start a new trend, but also spark a positive change. So instead of ‘dressed to impress’, perhaps we should dress to express?
This is not to make anyone self-conscious or deprecate your fashion choices – far from it actually! If it were not for bold fashion choices, we would not have many articles of clothing today. Take for instance, Michael’s iconic red leather jacket (pictured below), which has inspired many a wardrobe. Doesn’t it make you want to smile too?
Now that I have your attention, let’s talk more about dressing to express. In this day and age, where our wardrobe essentials are determined by what we see on TV or read in the magazines, it seems that we are expressing someone else’s style. Come to think of it, this goes for both the trend we are following and the clothes we are wearing – let me explain. Take another look at Michael’s red jacket, it’s definitely glamorous, a piece that most of us (myself at one point) would like to add to our collection, but have you ever stopped to think how that jacket came to be? It’s made of leather, so you do the math. I can tell you one thing, it surely didn’t come from a tree (okay, maybe the cotton lining, smarty pants).
In previous blog posts, we discussed animal derived leather and its role in producing various products, from purses to shoes. One of the most outstanding leather clad pieces is the leather jacket, an item that has been the prototype of durability and versatility, in relation to both fashion and weather. From its incarnation, dating back to the early 1900's, it has earned its right to be classified as sensible fashion. Unfortunately, that and the fur-lined products have no place in today’s compassionate fashion.
There was a time when all we had to protect ourselves from the adversities was animals’ skin and plumage; imagine now how much more we can achieve in this, the dawn of faux leather and water-repellent synthetic fur. Even sound fancy, don’t they? Put aside the fact that faux actually means imitation, and you open the door to something new and interesting. We will further discuss all the possible materials that can be used to create vegan leather and fur in blog posts to come, but for now, let’s get back to the topic.
Now, am I saying that you should toss out all your non-vegan articles of clothing as soon as you are finished reading this article? I mean, you could, but let’s not be hasty. One of the principles of the vegan lifestyle is that we try to avoid exploitation to as realistic a level as possible. The damage has been done and by tossing out your leather items it means that the animal(s) died not only prematurely, but also in vain. So does that mean that we should we toss/return a present because it contains animal sourced materials? Honestly, in the end, it’s up to you – user discretion after all. One thing is for sure, we must all be careful about how we go about selecting and ultimately, using our clothing. Personally, the only thing I truly regret having in my wardrobe are a pair of what might be leather sandals my mom bought for me when visiting Guatemala. However, at the time, I wasn’t as vegan savvy and didn’t inquire about their components. I now realise that this was a silly mistake, but one that has taught me a valuable lesson – guess we live and we learn.
So, as we relearn how to shop, let us also reinvent the way we dress. Our outfits should do more than highlight our best [physical] features; we should also allow them to emphasise our intellectual and moral qualities. While we might not be perfect vegans, let us try to express our concerns for animals and the planet via the clothes and accessories that we wear. Let your clothes express your true character. Remember, it takes nothing from a human to be kind to an animal, and it takes even less to put on a shirt echoing this message.
Written by Nayelie Vernon for VILMA Boutique