On the left is me, matching the deep blue with red accents on the cover of Immanuel Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. My dear friend Jess is on the right, her bright hues perfectly evoking the cover of Michel Foucault’s History of Sexuality, Volume 1, down to the perfect parallel between the oversized orange beads of her necklace and the orange chains on Foucault’s cover (perhaps symbolizing the fallacious shackles of the repressive hypothesis?). Both instances were entirely coincidental, and it was only when others pointed out the uncanny resemblances between our books and our clothes that we even noticed the miraculous phenomena.
Someone who took me out on a date once (and once only, after the following remark) said it seemed contradictory that I am so passionate about ideas, theories, and books but at the same time committed to fashion. I don’t see a contradiction whatsoever. In fact, I think my interest in fashion is completely in line with my ideas. The contradiction would only arise from a persisting mind/body dualism, no? And this dualism is one I wholeheartedly reject.
The same kind of dualism is underlying the common quip that fashion is “personal expression.” This idea promulgates the notion that the clothes that we wear are external manifestations of an ‘internal’ personality or state of mind. For me, the dualism between the internal and the external is dubious, the relation between what we wear on our skins and who we essentially consider ourselves to be being complex, fluid, and permeable.
And sometimes, this complex relation gets pinned down in a moment of simplicity when the book I’ve been obsessing over appears on the dress I choose to wear that morning.