14.3.14

Let's assess the new normal in fashion.

If wearing black turtleneck and sweater is considered normcore, what about a Chanel sweater?

Comfortable is the new key word in fashion, signaled by one of Cathy Horyn's last piece in NYT titled "Slave No More" and the elaborate, viral piece regarding "normcore" penned by Fiona Duncan in The Cut. Then Buzzfeed jumps in the conversation with a new term for dressing in comfortable, loose pieces called "frumpterable". But vivid proofs are not lacking, either. Just take a walk online and you will most likely encounter street style photos of so-called fashionistas in flats and sneakers, ditching their painful heels for a slightly understated look. Or you can find a number of fashion shows, Chanel included, clashing sweatpants, oversized coats and sneakers (or sneakers hybrid like Raf Simons' latest invention in Dior) together.

So what's the deal with comfortable pieces? Aren't they supposed to be worn daily? Aren't all your clothes are comfortable? Otherwise, what is the point of wearing them?

"Normcore is a desire to be blank. Fundamentally, the way that we thought about it at K-HOLE is that people used to be born into communities and were, sort of, thrust into the world and had to find their own individuality. And I think today, people are born individuals and are trying to find their communities," explains the original "normcore" initiator, the New York-based trend forecasting group. By what it signifies, the understanding of normcore being the fashion that is bland and plain is not entirely correct. Suppose you want to enter a group full of trend-conscious people, and having the principle of normcore in your head, you wish to be able to fit it and thus start to adopting the trend. Nevertheless, the icons of normcore as "appointed" by K-HOLE themselves are Steve Jobs who consistently wears black turtleneck and jeans, Jerry Seinfeld with his far-from-notable outfits, and should I add, the Olsen twins--those who wear monochromatic outfits and look "just like anybody else".

The weakness in normcore, albeit it reflects how our society longs for a sense of belongingness (by being nothing, that is), is that diversity is minimized. But the truth is that, you cannot easily dismiss your difference just by dressing or acting like anyone else. What about ethnicity, skin color and even personality? Those are what we all acquire from gene and thus become inevitable differentiating factor. In other words, being blank is impossible, and pardon me, stupid. Because people are not supposed to be blank--they are here to encourage and value differences. It is when a social group is able to embrace different kinds of styles and personalities, it can be regarded as a successful group.

To delve further to the matter, there is frumpterable, a rising trend of wearing simple, basic, perhaps too loose pieces of clothing and not care about it. On one side I see it as personalized, individual take since what simple for one person is not simple for others, and it actually points out to a celebration of anti-everything-changes-every-six-months that releases us from doing unnecessary spending. On the other hand, it feels like a form of neglect--a neglect of good, presentable, flattering style. Although the street style photographs of fashionable packs during fashion week proves otherwise, I still think that this frumpterable thing is not for everybody, especially not if you wish to impress others the very first time they meet you.

Sensing how fashion starts to become comfortable, and tend to be lazy, is somewhat discouraging. I am not implying that we should opt for flashy items or adopt trend religiously, but rather to consider what works for us. The aim, by the end of the day, is to be able to curate a set of styles in which we can both feel comfortable and beautiful. I am not ready to forgo that beautiful part, and I hope you are not, too.

Photo is from style.com


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