on fashion

so…i just finished watching the season finale of project runway. spoiler alert: gretchen won, and mondo should have.

watching this show has been so exciting to me, because i am a fashionista. it’s taken me years to admit this, for many reasons.

as a thick woman, there’s definitely a few phases i went through relative to fashion. one was the phase where i believed that my fashion needed to cover up my body.

another phase was thinking that as an activist i shouldn’t put a lot of thought and time into clothing.

luckily i have conquered both of those false belief systems. i realized that i feel better about my body each time i claim it and represent it beautifully.

and through my work, particularly with allied media projects, i have realized that fashion is yet another form of communication. we have to build a beautiful movement, something that shows we ARE the future and folks can be drawn to what we’re doing and how we exist – we show a merger of vision and sustainability.

i want to communicate that choosing sustainable, ideally zero waste, clothing – can be engaging, interesting, futuristic, elegant, beautiful.

i want to communicate the beauty of curves, shape and softness; that the body you have is a gift, that the health and attention you pay to your body is a liberation practice.

i want to communicate the importance of choosing unique ways to pull together the materials we already have…that we don’t need to consume more to express ourselves.

to this end:

1) i go through every item of clothing i own twice a year. i lay it out on the bed and organize it into items to donate to the homeless shelter around the corner, items to give away to friends, items that are out of season…that leaves me with a super pared-down wardrobe where i feel excited about every item i could possibly pull out of the closet.

here was the pile this year:

2) i have been looking for designers that align with values i have around sustainability, zero-waste, local designers, etc. you’ve heard me speak of the amazing trudy miller. i also recently entered an amazing local boutique – Flo‘s – in detroit. buy local, support innovative folks to make a living for being creative, and support sustainable clothing.

3) i spend more for less…which sounds ridiculous. but whereas i used to go look for deals, and buy several cheap items…now, i shop rarely, and look for things that are high quality, have a marvelous fit, and that i will wear all the time. this strategy is working.

4) i shop my closet and rock accessories – i learned this from maori holmes, a philly/l.a. based fashionista. looking past the stuff i wear every day for those unique pieces or combinations and the right accessories can keep my look fresh. the spring and fall closet sweep help with this.

now all this doesn’t speak to the most important aspect of my relationship with fashion: let go of what other people say/think.

i have had people say ignorant things about my style, and i have been greatly complimented on it. at this point i don’t care about that – i care about how i feel in that expression of myself….the fashionistas i love create a world of their own look – elegant, brand new – unexpected. i love to see something i didn’t know could exist, and i can’t imagine where it could come from, and it perfectly suits the wearer.

i recently watched coco before chanel, and recommend it to other fashionistas. seeing the way that she channeled a whole mindset of resistance to sameness, to the status quo, in every aspect of her existence – from her first impression (through her fashion), to her ongoing demand for justice and dignity in every relationship she entered – was very inspiring.

so, starting tomorrow: do you. coco mondo you.