One of the only commonalities between my public and private school was their hatred toward uncovered undergarments. My principal would hiss at girls with unbuttoned polos, as if the three closures were the only thing keeping the devil from slithering in between their bra straps.
Why should women be ashamed to show off to the world what they think we can’t go without wearing? FW 2016 Fashion Week pioneered the “free the nipple” movement in fashion, and every off-duty model and unrecognized fashion blogger exposed their intimates in tasteful doses. Dries Van Noten and Kenzoteetered on the edge of high fashion and walk of shame layering, but intrigued me enough to try the trend in Blacksburg, and, maybe, give it a blazing comeback.
Usually a very confident person when it comes to wacky outfits, I realized it takes more mental effort than expected to wear my bra on the outside of my shirt. I spent half the school day hiding my exposed pink bralette from lazy eyes. I couldn’t hide my sweat stains or feelings of embarrassment under my wool coat.
When I abandoned my protective shell in ABP, my confidence simmered until I heard “Look, it’s a bra!” I snapped my head at the male voice that had alerted his male companion of the wild brassiere, bouncing openly in the wild like a kangaroo. I didn’t know if he was surprised to have seen a real live bra in public, or just assumed women’s breasts floated magically in place on their own. Either way, it made me slide my jacket on for the rest of the day, not only because of the boy’s embarrassing exclamation, but also because I realized my large nipple rings caught the eyes of my professors and that my breasts hung lower than my current self-esteem.
“People, I hypothesized, don’t care what you wear, mostly because their stress is so all-consuming that they don’t have the energy to break their quarter-life crisis ponders.”
Day two started with a better attitude and a better bra. My steps felt lighter, and my hips swayed more when I walked; I felt in tune with my body, but also felt tasteful enough to go to my four classes that day. People, I hypothesized, don’t care what you wear, mostly because their stress is so all-consuming that they don’t have the energy to break their quarter-life crisis ponders. However, some people in their fuzzy Crocs do notice and choose to silently judge, while some commend but choose not to be the black sheep.
During a presentation in my fashion class, I reiterated what flowers are great for sewing and which ones will die, stressing the importance of not using carnations. My professor called me out, exclaiming to the 40-person class how creative I was for wearing my clothes in an avant garde way, but all I heard were my classmates’ whispers. Murmurs of “I was taken aback,” “That is weird,” and “What is that?” scraped the chalkboard and the walls of my ears. I had suddenly felt that tinge of self-deprecation that took away some of those feelings of confidence I had in my outfit.
But, why be preoccupied with the thoughts of some that only try to discourage you, while others build you up? Maybe we should start listening to a different voice, even if it is one that calls you out in class.
Fashion doesn’t have to mean recreating clothes, but redefining and revitalizing the clothes we wear now; the clothes that we wear every day. As a fashion major, and even as a writer, I spend noisy class periods and quiet 3 a.m. mornings thinking of the new way to be the most inventive or the most interesting. But sometimes, breaking things down to their most basic form, or garment, can connect you to your most creative thoughts and most inspiring voices.