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Essay: The Fashion Body

by Indigo Clarke on 8 September 2010

Writer and Editor Indigo Clarke writes a personal essay on the fashion body.

Writer and Editor Indigo Clarke writes a personal essay on the fashion body.

A thought that has often occurred to me over the years, ever since I first realised my love of fashion as a crazed tutu-and-novelty-John-Lennon-spectacles-loving child and more acutely as a teenager, is the way we use fashion to escape reality or immerse ourselves in it, and to conceal/camouflage our bodies, or reveal them.

Clothing has always had such an effect on me because of its power to transform not just how I look, but how I feel. I’ve often said that in the same way a beautiful, artfully designed and sun-filled space can positively affect our mood, so can the clothing we wear. People talk about the frivolous nature of fashion, and when it’s compared with other art forms, it’s generally considered unimportant. I don’t love the whole ‘status’ thing about fashion, and definitely don’t care about labels – I love what I love, be it a vintage piece, a designer dress or something I knocked up on the sewing machine. I don’t think fashion is important because it’s an industry with a lot of influence and money behind it, but I do think it’s important because it is the art and architecture we wear, the armour that can make us feel brave and empowered, like the person we want to be.

While personal style might change its course and become more understated with maturity, fashion never loses its ability to transform.

As a teen, I loved to wear my hair cropped super-short and brightly coloured, piercings, little dresses, doc boots and flea-market finds under five dollars – a pretty good escape from the body-con beach and bikini reality that is living in Sydney by the ocean. As I’ve gotten older, the desire to immerse myself in my own little world of music, art and crazy fashion dissipated as the realities of life, work, rent set in... And while personal style might change its course and become more understated with maturity, fashion never loses its ability to transform. On a bad day to be able to entirely change your mood and outlook, to put something on that you feel transforms your body, and in so doing, your mind, is a powerful – and important – thing.

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