Fashion is never just fashion. What we wear tells the story of who we are, where we come from and how we feel. Take a look at African beadwork for example: Admired for its intricate designs, patterns and colour combinations, the jewellery has fast become a huge part of contemporary Western Fashion. However, the cultural and historical significance belonging to the beads and the hands that weave them contain a far deeper story and message.
“All that you need to love is in front of your eyes” -Josh Groban.
This is my first attempt at writing you a letter. Ever. No, wait, I wrote you a letter when I was thirteen during a school camp as part of a ‘self-growth’ activity. The task was to write a letter addressed to ourselves listing areas of our life or character that we wanted to change or work on. Then we were instructed to put it in an envelope and open it again at the end of the year, ‘marking our progress’. Novel idea.
***It’s a Saturday night. I’m at my friend’s house and we’re getting ready to go out. “Aaah I look so fat and ugly!” my friend suddenly blurts out, her arms flailing frantically in the air as she wrestles with her dress in a desperate attempt to get it off her decidedly ‘too fat’ body. “There is no way I can wear this dress out tonight, I look like a fat old frump,” she exclaims, flinging the dress onto a heaped pile of clothing that she’s already deemed unfit.
“Yes, you’re too fat,” I encouragingly egg her on. “You’re probably better off just wearing a tent or an XXXL t-shirt to cover that blob of a body. You shouldn’t have eaten that second slice of cake at lunch. Why the hell did you have a second helping? As if one piece wasn’t already pushing it. Can’t you just learn some self-control, other people can say no. Why can’t you? No wonder you look so fat and ugly,” I add, just to make her feel better about herself knowing that I share her same sentiments regarding her body image, because don’t we all want to feel understood and accepted?***
The above scenario never actually happened. Well, of course, it didn’t! Because any half decent friend with half a brain would NEVER respond like that to someone they care about.
(And by F word, I’m referring to Fashion, just in case you were wondering.)
In High School, I was the most interested in fashion, out of all my friends. We would make plans to meet up over the weekend, going to parties, movies or shopping dates and a few hours before, I would phone them up and ask them “what are you wearing tonight?” To which they would casually reply, “Aah probably just jeans and a tee-shirt or something, I haven’t decided yet.”
I could never relate because there I was, at 2 pm, with the aftermath of hurricane ‘I-have-nothing-to-wear’ clearly visible in my ransacked closet.
There’s nothing more comforting than being understood. And as women, no one truly gets us better than our female friends.
It’s also a universal fact that sometimes nothing says it better than a song, so on that note, here’s a playlist carefully curated for the ones who rule the world, as Beyoncé calls us.
Whether you need a girl power pep talk, a boost of self-confidence, some girl-to-girl encouragement, a reminder that you’re perfect just the way you are and that you deserve to be respected, or if you just feel like celebrating the gigantic package of awesome-ness that you are, here’s a list of lyrics to echo every tune of our hearts.
We have already established that clothes are never just clothes. They’re threaded with meaning and reflect our identities. We all have a relationship with the clothes we wear, whether we like it or realise it or not.
At a basic level, we need them to serve the primary function of covering our bodies, but the choice of materials and styles we choose to fulfill this purpose goes far deeper. The decision to wear what we wear is embedded in our psyche.
I am fascinated with this latter reason for dressing and so I decided to take advantage of the diversity of styles that inhabits Rhodes University’s campus and go find out what students wear and why they wear it.
I asked eight students to describe their personal style and explain why they wear the clothes they wear, and here’s what they said:
Photos: Jade le Roux
My mother’s fiance died when I was nine years old and for years after that, we would commemorate the anniversary of his death by sharing a box of Ferrero Rochers, his and our favourite chocolates. I don’t remember exactly how long we upheld this ritual before, gradually, year after year grief began to slowly loosen its grasp and now the day passes without me even registering its historical significance.
I don’t want that to be the case with the memory of my grandmother’s last days. In fact, I have a vivid fear of letting the memory slip away into a blur, especially since the memory is already so blurred over with overwhelming emotion and regret.