I recently went to sell some of my clothes at the Buffalo Exchange in Seattle’s University District. I took with me two full bags of clothes–shoes, shirts, pants, sweaters. Before the woman behind the counter sifted through the goods, she informed me that she would only be taking what the store currently needed, and that the store only traded in the most current styles. Fine with me.
I left the counter, browsed, and came back to find that she had only selected two items. A pair of shoes and a cardigan from Urban Outfitters. I got $22 store credit. Fine with me. Before I left though, she said, “You have some good basic styles, but we are looking for the most current versions.” This was not fine with me.
I don’t care about the clothes’ fashion classification, but it seemed she was trying to make me feel better by giving a stamp of approval. Don’t feel bad, the Buffalo Exchange employee says that your clothes have good basic style. Well guess what? Your mom has good basic style. We just can’t accept her because we trade only in the most current versions.
This mild annoyance got me to thinking about where we get our sense of success or failure when it comes to fashion. I’m not talking about function, like, “these underwear prevent my burlap shorts from giving me a rash.” I’m talking about the social cues that lead us to say “damn, these burlap shorts look fly! (This rash is so worth it).” And don’t tell me that you came out of the womb with a fully developed sense of what looks great. I have some photos of your feathered mullet (your emo fedora) to prove it. So how about it? What are the voices in your life that help you decide what (not) to wear?