This Is How I Really Feel About What’s Trendy Right Now

Rafaela Sanchez
Rafaela is one of 20 Something's newest fashion contributors She says she's from Fort Lauderdale, Florida but everyone knows she's really from a dumb suburb called Plantation. New York has "F****d the suburbs" out of her (as Of Montreal would put it) and she's now a proud and not-yet head-to-toe-tatted Brooklyn babe. As a fashion contributer, Rafaela hopes to draw from the music, people, cities, and wine that inspire her every day, and infuse her writing with her overall feelings on life and style: "I don't give a--" Favorite quote: "Thoughts. But also, feelings." -Father John Misty Alma Mater: University of Florida

Dear . . . whoever the hell cares,

This is an open-letter — rant, babble, hopefully conclusive stream of consciousness — about my current thoughts and feelings (s/o Father John Misty) on fashion and style. Reasons for presenting my thoughts in this format stem predominantly from the multifacetedness of my frustrations: Frustrations with myself, frustrations with my writing (or lack thereof), frustrations with what is expected/assumed of me, and, of course, frustrations with the relationship I have come to develop with fashion. Shall we?

Forewarning: these are sporadic, sometimes carelessly crafted sentences whose original intentions are often questioned, rethought, answered, and questioned again before a period even marks the end.

Fashion month, to most, is an afterthought at this point in time. Fashion month, to some, felt like an afterthought before the stories processing down the runway were even thought about by the powers that be. Though I can name people (though those names keep dropping out of the game, da fuq?)  and identify who designed which garments before being told, I don’t follow fashion shows as religiously as most. I’ll scroll through Tumblr, browse through Vogue Runway (is anyone else as frustrated with their photo scroll feature as I am?!?!), and probably catch what Leandra Medine has to say. My lackadaisical manner of educating myself during fashion month leads me to often feel unqualified to partake in or have an opinion on any fashion-month-related topics.

So you can imagine the sigh of relief I exhaled when listening to Leandra Medine 12th episode of her podcast Monocycle titled “Fashion Week is Funny” in which she delved into all the conflicting feelings towards fashion month in general — from the clothes, to the schedules, to fashion week’s diminishing purpose, to the faux intimidation the fashion elite exude onto the pauper consumers such as ourselves.

This insecurity I feel towards my deserved place in the fashion conversation contributes to the confusion I feel when I’m asked to tag along on shopping trips or write about my opinion for style handles such as this one.

When the Christina and Mikela of 20something asked me to to contribute to the site, I couldn’t refuse for two reasons.

The first: Christina and Mikela are two of my most badass friends who have continually proven themselves as unwaveringly hard-working, intelligent, independent women despite the shit New York City has tried to pull.

The second: I have become all complaint and no action. I complain, and complain, and complain about how I long to be back in school, earning an English degree, writing more. Then here are two of my friends HANDING me an opportunity to write sans filter because they believe I have an opinion worth sharing (I think that’s why they asked me?).

Before I continue on, I must note that when I was asked to contribute I was given total autonomy over my writing. They gave me the freedom to write about fashion and style as I pleased, whether that meant critiquing fashion week or chronicling the history of creeper shoes, craftily weaving my preferred curse words throughout.

After a whopping three articles, however, I lost the motivation — the motivation to write, to take a stance, to “keep up” and to even push the boundaries of my personal style. Sure, the latter could have something to do with the measly funds I have leftover after paying for rent, groceries and my credit card bill. But much deeper than that was the growing disconnect between the reasons I followed and admired the art of fashion, and how I chose to dress myself in the morning.

I recently read an interview with Jemima Kirke on Semaine.com in which she expressed all the messy sentiments I’ve written about thus far more articulately and more frankly than I ever good:

I appreciate fashion and I love to look at it, and I have opinions on what I like and don’t like. But I just don’t really care about it for me that much. I’m critical of it and I’m discerning, but with myself I don’t really care. I like comfort. I like sort of dike-y looks.

I wouldn’t go as far as to say “I don’t really care.” Of course I care, but I also know that there is definitely a post somewhere deep in my Tumblr archive stating that my favorite days are the ones I wear baggy corduroys that do my figure zero favors, and still feel feminine (what does even that mean?) as hell because I am woman.

Kirke really tugged at my bank account’s heart strings, however, when she said:

I can’t wear my Converse…although I do wear my Converse. But when I go out I don’t want to look ratty anymore. The last designer thing I bought was a pajama jumpsuit from Fendi. When I go into a shop I spend like I’m Beyoncé and then I get a call from my management asking “What happened today?” And I’m like, I just bought this, sorry!

And it’s in this dichotomic element of my character that this conflict thickens! The same girl who wants to have a conversation with the outside world through the clothes on her back — clothes that are mismatched, baggy, and confusing — will also spend $450 she doesn’t necessarily have at The Vintage Twin on one-of-a-kind- vintage, patchwork, Levi’s bellbottoms. So where does this leave me? Apathetic to the trends and star-studded clouds floating over fashion month, yet completely appreciative and submissive to quality it’s in front of her. You see my dilemma?

I’ll close this letter with a quick anecdote.

A turning point for me and my relationship with fashion was the 2014 Paris Fashion Week season. As a student studying abroad at the time, and a lifelong lover of fashion, I felt guilty if I didn’t try to hang around outside the shows and see what and whom I could spot. Though there were major highlights like seeing Madam Grace Coddington’s red mane bob through a crowd of fashion insiders, and being one of the only people on the sidewalk to flip a shit about the proximity with which I stood next to Bill Cunningham, the overall sentiment I carried leaving the crowd of spectators could only be described as **rolls eyes**.

It was 2014, Cara Delevingne’s heyday, which meant every wannabe-fashion-insider standing outside the shows was wearing a beanie reading some defiant phrase like “messy hair day” or “Comme des fuck down.” All I could think as I looked around at the masses of uniform girls was how I felt like I’d walked into an undiversified Tumblr dashboard. Everyone was a walking, robotic trend wrapped in the belief that they were being original. And yes, though I too was a spectator, hoping to catch a glimpse of anything and anyone, I couldn’t help but feel so removed from the urgency to see and be seen.

In this moment it finally clicked that the world behind the doors of “Le Grand Palais” and the “trendy” cloud of teenage bloggers floating around it were two completely different worlds. In this moment I realized that I didn’t not care about fashion, but rather that I took from it what I took from any form of art (be it literature, music, dance, sculpture) — its ability to bring me to a higher consciousness, to learn something, to experience a story.  In this moment I realized fashion’s necessity as an art, but separated it from an individual’s use of fashion as a conversation with the outside world.

So that’s my rant, my  “Dear Diary,” my insecurities, my questions, my brief moments of enlightenment. Thanks for letting me use this platform to figure out what the hell it is that I want from fashion, from writing, from myself.

Love ya long time,

Rafaela

P.S. WHY IS EVERYONE ACCEPTING THAT BALMAIN IS STILL A GOOD IDEA?! I DO NOT UNDERSTAND THE PASTEL MESS THAT KARDASHIAN-ED ITSELF DOWN THE RUNWAY!

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