I’d say I’m more known for my overall elegance and ferocious command of English prose (this masterpiece on my bed-sweating habits will paint you a picture of both) than I am for my personal dressing style. This is fine. Over the years I have grown accustomed to stepping out of the way of my very stylish friends’ paparazzi-captured photographs during fashion weeks — every once in a while getting snapped by proxy between two friends with whom I happen to be coordinating and once because I was in polka dots. But usually, normally, I’m politely ignored.
At first, during the intersection of my freshman fashion week career and peak street style madness, I was slightly disappointed no one cared about my carefully selected outfits. It reminded me of going into Abercrombie & Fitch in high school where, without fail, one of my best friends would get asked by the movie-hot staff to apply for a job, and I would get no-teeth smiled at. Then I got over it. The Abercrombie thing and the street style business.
In the latter case, the days got too busy to worry about exactly how personal I should take it that no one was emotionally transformed by my layering abilities. At the same time, I was growing up and into a comfortable place with my style. Working at Man Repeller helped; maturity did, too, I think, because at a certain point, “what’s cool” became far less enticing than what made me feel good. This revelation has helped edge my wardrobe closer and closer to the one I want to carry with me into life-hood.
I’m a few years into my grand epiphany. Two weeks ago, I got cocky about it. During a pitch meeting, I signed myself up to wear the same thing every day for the entire duration of fashion week. I was wearing my boyfriend’s navy J. McLaughlin sweater, a pair of Tory Sport golf pants and white Trademark mules with purple pom pom fluffs on the toes when I first spoke up, an outfit that was sealed as my sartorial fate for the next seven days.
It was one of those things that started off as funny and got out of control, fast. That outfit I just rattled off? I actually wore it on the Tuesday before Fashion Week Thursday, and then again on Wednesday, on-stage, as an Ace Hotel Study Hall panelist. This wasn’t part of the plan, but I figured if I was going to wear the same thing for a week, I might as well start right away. The bad part of that idea is how I didn’t account for the fact that public speaking in front of small-to-medium-sized rooms makes me sweat worse than sleeping does, which eliminated my boyfriend’s sweater for the duration of this experiment. (Straight to the dry cleaners.) Good thing for everyone: I have at least three other navy sweaters.
If you scroll through the slideshow above you can see for yourself the thrilling adventure upon which I embarked. What I learned very quickly is that for the most part, no one noticed that I wore the same thing. The only person who caught on is Simon, the Man Repeller street style photographer. To everyone’s credit including my own, I wore a subtle head-to-toe navy outfit — not exactly statement-making — I switched up the coats, and it is literally part of Simon’s job to notice what people wear. Still, when I told my friends they were like, “Fun!,” then changed the subject. No one cared. It’s one of those things I knew in theory, but in practice…it made me self-conscious.
I also learned just how many emotional stages are involved in wearing the same thing for eight days straight when you’re not accustomed to a uniform. They are as follows:
1. Excitement and delusion – “I am going to be so productive this week because I won’t have to worry about my clothes.”
2. Confidence and inflated ego – “I am so sophisticated. I look understated and chic. I have mastered the capsule wardrobe.”
3. Comfort – “I’m so used to this that I will probably only ever wear this outfit going forward.”
4. Slow disgust – “These pants haven’t been washed in six days.”
5. Self-doubt – “Was this a terrible idea? What if everyone thinks I have a weird navy obsession? What if everyone thinks I’m like a kid who doesn’t want to change out of her Halloween costume even though it’s February? What if this was an awful outfit to begin with and everyone thinks I’ve lost my way?”
6. Jealousy – “Screw everyone in their colorful clothes and kookie coats and weird boots that work because they aren’t beholden to one type of pant that only looks good with a few specific shoes!”
7. Resigned boredom and existential angst – “Another day, another blob of navy. I wonder if everyone thinks I work for the United States Post Office. Do I? Who am I? I cannot remember.”
Whoo-ie was it a journey. I got home from Marc Jacobs at 7 p.m. on a Wednesday and have never changed so fast out of clothes in my life. I had a dinner reservation at 8 and spent 45 minutes trying on every statement-making, colorful and season-inappropriate item in my closet just because I could; I forgot how fun the act of getting dressed can be.
The next morning, Thursday — day one of New York’s return-to-normal week — I woke up excited to put on an outfit. It was nothing crazy, just a sweater I tend to save for occasions and new jeans I hadn’t quite figured out how to wear yet, or with what. I was almost running late, too, yet even with the time crunch, there was something meditative rather than stressful about the process.
Maybe all I needed was a vacation from hemming and hawing over hem lengths and their various relationships to the ankle-heights of my boots. Maybe all I needed was a bright, neon reminder that, in terms of what I wear, fashion week or not, “Hey Amelia: NO ONE CARES.”
I care, of course. And that’s where the fun part of getting dressed happens.
Photos via Amelia Diamond.