That anecdote aside, my previous post on identity and clothes has attracted many insightful comments. It turns out that some of you are just as annoyed as I am about the assumed power of clothes in relation to our identities, and some reminded me that whether we like it or not, our appearances do matter in the way others see us. I guess it comes down to asking what we mean by identity - is it "I" as the subject, or "I" as the object, or are those two inseparable to begin with? Clearly we can't choose the way others see us, but can we choose the way we see ourselves? Or in other words, how much does the perception of others shape the way we portray (and see) ourselves? Do we have a say in the matter?
What does this mean? I guess it could mean that our identities do shape the way we dress, and if our identities are strong, they shine through our clothes. The way others see our style can help us be more at ease with what we like and wear. In some cases, the clothes don't really matter all that much. Confident style icons like Kate Moss or Charlotte Gainsbourg could wear a garbage bag, and they'd still ooze effortless cool. But put shy and awkward Kristen Stewart in a Proenza Schouler look straight off the runway, and she looks completely out of place and costume-y. And then you have someone like Debrahlee Lorenzana, who wore well-tailored suits and turtlenecks to work and got fired for distracting her male co-workers. Her 32DD curves made it practically impossible for her to control the way others saw her, and she lost her job. So what matters in the end? Our personalities? Our choices? Our sense of self-esteem? Our figures? The eyes of others? Or my personal favourite, all of the above?
I still think it is essential to wear what one loves. The type of style identity that shines through is the one that revolves around what we like and cherish. Trying too hard shows. Being comfortable in our own bodies matters an awful lot, too. Even if my clothing gave my nationality away yesterday, I still hesitate to say that people can tell who I am on the basis of my clothes. Add my accent, the way I carry myself, and the strange book purchase, and perhaps then we might be getting somewhere.