Fashion Theory

Just get dressed up

by Leandra Medine Cohen
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I went to a party a few weeks ago dressed in an outfit that was appropriate for the setting, a friend’s apartment not far from my own for a casual but celebratory dinner for let’s say like, 15 people. There was no tie to fashion at this particular party, unless you consider me some anchor that adds the flair. I mention the tie or lack thereof because this is usually what changes the stakes of what is considered appropriate to wear to such an event — like at a fashion dinner (could mean this literally like a dinner for a brand or more figuratively like with a bunch of stylish friends), most dress code bets are off. Wear whatever you want among those phased by nothing but ordinariness.

In the company of these lifeworld friends, the same satin tie-dye dress with jewels encrusted and knee highs with pumps makes less sense.

Not that it has to matter whether what you wear makes sense, to be clear, and in fact it really doesn’t. But I don’t know, I guess what I’m realizing is that when your confidence is in flux and your more regular inclination is to turn up a look, you’re less likely to do it if you think the spectators wherever you’re heading won’t get it.

It ebbs and flows, right? Sometimes you don’t give a shit because you’re so full of yourself that it doesn’t matter, like you don’t even compute the possibility that it could impact you what some other third party will say, do, think, wear. When I say full of yourself, btw, I don’t mean it critically. I mean it more like, your body — the vessel — is full to the brim with your gorgeously sparkling essence. Like your soul at peak rich.

For this night, I was wearing high waist blue jeans with a white t-shirt, sequined, collarless jacket, and white kitten heels loafers.

There actually weren’t that many women present, but the ones who were had on ripped jeans and sweaters and boots with very big soles. So out of the gates, I suppose I looked a little different — like I had gotten the memo about the unspoken dress code (jeans caj) and manipulated it at various junctures (sequined jacket instead of sweater, no rips on my jeans, refined kitten heels instead of boots) but not in such a way that the risk was so massive I stood out. Like it could, or would unmoor me.

When they say, "Learn the rules so that you can break them,” what they mean is really so you can feel more free to take unique liberties within them.

20 minutes after I got to the party, a close friend walked in wearing a fire-engine red dress that hit just above her ankle with sheer black tights and lace-up stiletto sandals. It might sound less tasteful than it was in real life which is probably because of my use of the word stiletto but the best way to describe the look would be like, sexy Marni. Like imagine Kendall Jenner in Marni.

Spring 2020 Marni, Kendall Jenner, Spring 2018 Marni

Anyway, I found her outfit (or really her in her outfit) to be showstopping, breathtaking — immediately I wished that I was wearing higher heels and a tube top or pencil skirt or idk, just something out of character! Something that was me, but not the me I present as often or comfortably.

And you know what else? I even had a bit of envy, which is when I thought to myself, Is this why sometimes we criticize each other for being overdressed or overwhelming, too opinionated, or loud? Is what we’re witnessing in those moments that grate us uncomfortably in the presence of some other woman actually this level of agency, freedom, self-acceptance or confidence on tap that we wish to espouse ourselves? That we know we have in us, that we’ve seen in ourselves! But that we did not let rise at that moment?

These questions deflated the envy quickly, pulling me out of the recesses of this like, insidious misogynistic thinking that often pits us against each other without our even knowing.

But we’re women, dammit — and game sees game! So in my head, I went thank you — like got grateful to the friend for wearing the dress for no good reason other than that she felt like it. For reminding me what it looks like to suspend self-doubt. To extract yourself from its pits in favor of fullness and honesty and presence. To be a presence and to feel comfortable with it. To go big, not small to remember the sheer magnitude of divine feminine bigness, to float past the idea it could be too much.

Last week I followed suit

Then did it again this week

Maybe it looks like nothing to you, or too little, or it’s just confusing. But that’s the beauty of the whole thing, right? It doesn’t even actually matter what you’re wearing — you’re the only one who knows what’s a risk and what’s not, what’s big and what’s small. What’s you in full force, or you still in hiding. So you go with the whim that just feels like expansion.

I don’t know where you’re going, if you’re going out soon, and what you’re thinking to wear, or to not. I don’t know how you’re feeling, if you’ve been unsure, or if you’re already coming in hot. But for the sake of honoring your own swinging peacock, I recommend you just get! Dressed! Up.

Signing off Thursday night live,