Welcome to the very first of a series titled “Fashion Fridaze.” While I do not want this blog to become a “fashion blog,” I do plan on writing a fashion related post most Fridays. However, in each of the fashion posts, I plan on adding an interesting tidbit of history or drawing an unexpected parallel between fashion and art, music, literature, or politics. Because, while fashion is often construed as a shallow aspect of culture, this is not the case. Fashion is a way of expressing oneself and therefore as valid an art form as sculpting or songwriting.
I bet Ralph Waldo Emerson never thought his ideas on non-conformity could be incorporated into a blog post on fashion. But just stick with me. I just finished an 8 week summer course on pre-civil war American literature. For the most part it was a lot of very dry Puritan literature. However, in the last 2 weeks of the course I became immersed in and fascinated by Transcendentalist literature by the famed writer Ralph Waldo Emerson and his friend and fellow writer, Henry Thoreau. But what is Transcendentalism?
Transcendentalism, a collection of ideologies influenced by “a range of idealistic philosophies, ancient, and modern,” ( Baym, 212) was a school of thought that found its roots in New England in the early 1800’s. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Thoreau, and Walt Whitman were at the forefront of this movement. They wrote groundbreaking essays such as “Self-Reliance” by Emerson and “Civil Disobedience” by Thoreau. In essence, this school of thought highlighted the importance finding oneself and God in nature, the “power of self-culture,” (Baym, 213), and the rejection of conformity. This very ideology inspired many repressed souls to break away from the confines of societal norms, and to create literature that would change the course of American history.
So what does all of this have to do with fashion? I was recently talking to a friend who is a hair stylist and he expressed his frustration with Midwestern conformity and how everyone here in middle-America looks and dresses (for the most part) the same. I couldn’t help but agree with him. I visited NYC in May and was amazed by the sheer audacity and creativity with which New Yorkers wore their clothes. All you have to do is check out street style blogs like The Sartorialist to see how revolutionary and bold New Yorkers are with their fashion choices. The Midwest, however, is the land of camouflage and the home of the sorority girls. In the Midwest, conformity is a commodity. However, I’m advocating for return to the Emersonian ideals of non-conformity in Midwest fashion. Wear what you want! Wear what makes you happy! Disregard the trends you see in the stores and instead, I encourage you to find your own style.
The outfit below is my version of Emersonian non-conformity. I love this flirty off-the-shoulder top and lace up flats. The peach just happened to be in my bag and my photographer had the brilliant idea to use it as a prop. I hope you enjoyed this first of many Fashion Fridaze. I would really appreciate your feedback. Leave a comment here or on my Instagram. xx
(shot by Vivacious Images)
(works cited: Baym, Nina, ed. The Norton Anthology of American Literature. 8th ed. Vol. B. New York: W.W. Norton, 2012. Print.)