I’m not sure how this periodical went under my radar for so many years but I’m so very glad that some back issues found their way under my Christmas tree this year.
Now, I am a person who deals with clothing. A lot. I make clothing almost every damn day. I made and designed costumes as a supplement to my official “College Education”. I have pressed my face into a couple of Charles James gowns to see what was up with that crazy construction he was so famous for. As a kid, I loved my Crayola-brand fashion design set. It had sheets printed with clothing elements that you would trace over and line up to create all sorts of late 80s, early 90s, big-sleeve’d, big-hair’d styles. And you know that shit got me believing that I could, very easily, become a fashion designer. In addition, I spent middle school, high school and all of college thrift shopping up a storm. At certain points, the Second Time Around Consignment shop in Toms River (not to be confused with the high end consignment boutiques in the New England area. This one smelled, and still smells, of house-bound grandmothers) became less of a store and more of a rotating closet due to my high turnover rate of purchasing and re-donating. By senior year, I must have approached the speed of sound- a sonic boom being created as I simultaneously entered and exited the door.
Once, also in senior year of high school, my biology teacher handed me a test bearing something, like, a B- on it. “Don’t worry,” he said, “You’ll make a great fashion designer, someday.” Of course, that statement made me “worried” about a whole mess of other things.
Shortly after moving to Providence and setting up what could easily be called “my adult life”, I began a really nihilistic cycle of being. I’m not sure of the catalyst but I’ve come to suspect that it was something called “early 20s”. While I’m pressured to believe that the early 20s are a magical time that truly represents the bloom of upper-middle-class Northeastern-white-American youth, I’ve been perversely heartened to see my younger friends, one-by-one, falling into the same pit that I found myself in around 2007 and 2008..or 2009…or….sometimes…. now. At least it means that I’m fairly normal. Here’s hoping.
To try and pull myself out of the pit of “Ugh. Everything’s awful. Nothing matters. Then, you die.” (UEANMTYD?), I worked around the idea that if nothing matters, you are at least left with a blank slate. So, I made things matter. Blasting Lady Gaga at work mattered. Riding on the bike path mattered. Eating Chex mix until I puked really, really mattered. One by one, I allowed the joys to creep back in and positioned them to obscure the things the bothered me. As a patch job, it will do.
But clothing was kind of a weird one. It was indulgent. The industry around it is, undeniably, a multifaceted gem of all things disgusting. I told myself that I was too smart or too humble or too something and thus! able to resist the siren song of thinking about clothes that I like. Or styles that I like. Or general “Looking Good.”But, after a few years of only adding band t shirts to my wardrobe, it started to become clear that mid-20s Liz had to give up the stinky polyester and garish irony of mid teens Liz. I had to deal with style. Grown up Liz pruned her wardrobe and faced the facts that there were only a few colors that she cared to wear… and that was okay. Red, green, navy, and black. Polka dots and stripes. I even came out as someone who liked dresses. Which was kind of tough. I had long held onto the weird where-did-this-come-from belief that outright femininity was equivocal to pretty much everything bad and everything that I was not to actually be. Girliness was giving up. Girliness was failure.
But a love of clothing is not purely the territory of blushing, giggling folly. What about the fops? What about the historians and the caftan-clad art teachers? What about the vast sea of menswear blogs? I got into reading streetwear blogs, like Wardrobe Remix. I liked the reader-submitted content for its democracy and for the subtle ways that each picture would hint at the reality of its subject. Clothes had a function. Clothes had a life. When I would talk with my friend who was, at the time, in the beginning stages of transitioning from female to male, clothes became a big deal. Figuring out how to dress a currently-female body as a convincing and comfortable male body? That was a big, fucking deal. That was the death knell of seeing my interest in clothing and style as just being shitty, sugary icing on the gross cake of feminine vanity… for lack of a better metaphor. There is a reason we wear what we do. It can be studied. I can look at it closely and not feel ashamed.
So, that’s what makes me like, nay, love. Nay. LOVE. Worn Fashion Journal. It is topical but timeless. It features clothes but, more so, it is about clothes and why we wear what we do and why this is important. Style is all over the internet and this ubiquity has really made me question if I like… anything at all. Something, a style or a garment or a concept, might start off as something that I am drawn to but when it is laid out, writ large, and I can see it from beginning to end, it loses something. When something comes too easy, why want for it at all? I want it. I want to carry it around the house under my arm and read it during all moments of down time. Worn is so damn interesting and well made that it makes me forget that the internet exists. That is, maybe, the highest compliment that I have ever given. The thing I was interested in? Turns out that it is interesting again.
In fact, I am going to buy the 3 newest issues right now. I consider it an investment in relaxing this jaded heart of mine.
all images stolen from the worn website.