Fashion in flux

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We are all sitting on Parrish beach in sundresses waiting for the school year to end so we can gtfo. We want to wear color and wander around with music playing out to the open air and rest. Sunday nights at Sharples have gotten quiet because we are utterly over pasta bar. It’s spring, we’ve been here for a while, and we’re ready for a little fun and a little change.

I always feel as if I am peeling back layers of warm wool sweaters and baring my soul to nature on these first spring mornings. But deciding what to replace those sweaters with is a process of exciting deliberation. Each season, there are fallback items, the easy, go-to season-appropriate pieces you have stocked at the ready in your top drawer.

In honor of the arrival of spring, I want to pose a suggestion and a challenge: consider what exactly you want those go-to pieces in your top drawer to be. Choose them thoughtfully and deliberately. There is opportunity to experiment and deviate from your personal norms at the turn of the season, because regardless of what you decide to wear, you are making a sartorial transition.

In no way do I advocate buying a new wardrobe with each passing season. Instead, the difference between seasons is often reflected in only a small change-over of items. It’s about finding things in the bottom drawer and making them your new basics. The change is in the colors and fabrics and individual pieces of clothing I consider the central axis of my style. It is not so much that every spring I have a new set of dresses, or that every spring I discard all my wool sweaters, but rather that I combine items in ways that fit my vision and prioritize items that exemplify it.

There are a few particulars about the clothing we wear in spring that I find helpful for examining my spring wardrobe vision. The first is the contrast of textures involved in the way winter and spring hold one another in tension, with spring the more dominant — because we want her so badly. I find that one way this tension plays out in clothing is through combinations of wool and denim shorts, or heavy boots and airy dresses.

The second particular is how spring really defines herself from autumn and pushes back against winter: color palate. The world, especially here at Swarthmore, is bursting into vibrant, sunlit (or sun-faded-to-pastel) color. The palate of a spring wardrobe exists in that context – whether or not it will match it is a separate question.

For many of us, winter is a certain pair of jeans and leggings, or a certain sweater or flannel, that sit strewn on the floor ready to be worn again, automatically and comfortably, when we wake up late for class. In spring, there is much more room to negotiate what those items are, without compromising comfort or aesthetic. Skirts and dresses are no longer accompanied by the hassle of tights, and can join the potential lineup. Shorts are back in the game. Jeans can stick around for the next few months as well — the options are basically limitless.

We can’t leave Swat quite yet; we can’t actually abandon Sharples meals and we can’t actually trade papers in for sunbathing on the lush grass. But we can reimagine our worlds through our sartorial choices, and we can reshape our interactions with the world through a visual lens. In small ways, we can change the ways we experience our lives through aesthetic. If there is anything Hi! Fashion hoped to communicate this year, it is that clothing is one part of the much broader picture of each individual’s aesthetic life, and aesthetic life one part of each individual’s daily experience. Style can be about consistency, but also, excitingly, a way of expressing and interacting with change. This spring, I hope ultimately it serves to deliver a little fun!

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