I was invited to cover the Whitney Opening Party at the new location located in the Meatpacking District of New York City. I spent all day getting ready for this historical event. I wore cool blue eyeshadow, a pair of drop green sapphire and diamond earrings from Misahara and a chic off the shoulder skater girl dress. I called an Uber because I wanted my sleek hair to stay in tact and taking the subway would mess that all up. To say the least, I was excited and put hours of thought on my final outfit for such a monumental occasion. But when I arrived and surveyed the the people in the crowded museum, I was flummoxed with a handful of people wandering around wearing gym sneakers, baggy tee shirts, carrying plastic bags and wearing puffer coats. It was way less glitz and glamour than I expected and shockingly normcore. Which lead me to think, have we entirely dismissed the art of getting dressed up?
To be fair, when I arrived to the beautifully constructed Renzo Piano building, there were a handful of people dressed in very chic- sequined gowns, abstract silk blouses, quirky heels, furs, and tastefully different spring suit attire amongst the men. These guests stood out. Solange Knowles was dressed in head to toe Max Mara and as one girl put it, she looked like "Big Burt in a crowd of seagulls.” And even I stood out in the midst of feeling totally disappointed with the large majority who thought it was okay to arrive to an Opening Museum Party dressed in their Thursday night’s best bar outfit. It wasn’t long until I too began stripping off some of the accessories that were way too over the top for that night at the museum with that crowd.
My argument is not so much personal style than a nonchalance on getting dressed that irks me. You can legitimately believe in your style , yet still not care or don’t care to express any interest in caring about getting dressed up, and that’s precisely the problem I have when it comes to looking presentable in public. Some people may argue that it’s just American culture, filing it under whatever, turning up their noses, but I beg to differ and hope to change public opinion. We need to redefine what it means to get dressed up because it’s something the public has been struggling with as a universal norm, a code of conduct, a prisoner’s dilemma of what to wear and why. It’s like we’ve all grasp the concept of wearing black to a funeral, and a suit to court, so why can’t those same rules be applied to things like a classy museum event or dinner at a five star restaurant?
Though, in a retrospect, deep down, I envied these people who had the guts to come dressed as whatever to the New Whitney Opening. And, I admit, I eventually gave in to the party’s lack of style and changed into my fresh white leather slip-on Vans from my five inch stilettos I had been wearing for a few hours.
Though, in deeper observation, what I experienced further justifies what Robin Givhan wrote about how Lilly Pulitzer does not embody fashion, about how the brand is just convenient for consumers living a Walmart and Target lifestyle. The article states that there’s not much of a difference in clothing designed for mass retailers, that a dress made by Lilly Pulitzer is preppy and preppy is not really stylish, and I totally agree. It’s easy to put on collar shirt and this is
why I don’t own any collar shirts, unless they are silk because collar shirts are a cheap one-step way of teaching people how to look nice.
And well, sometimes I feel like that's what the majority of people have succumbed to nowadays. Wearing collar shirts with gym shoes. Getting dressed is too hard for people who hit the snooze button, and we've become okay with wearing tights to the Theater. We like substituting tee shirts with a logo for dinner because it's cool. Confession: I hate using an iron and will serious spend time thinking about the possibility of skipping out on ironing because I don't feel like it. Even if we spend a bunch of money on a stellar pair of Frye boots, I don't necessarily think that gives us a pass on style.
Moreover, though, bringing the conversation back to retail, H&M’s effort in bridging the divide between luxury and fast fashion with their notable collaborations with fashion houses may be just what the culture needs. H&M x Balmain is great example of restoring the excitement of getting dressed. People who buy any piece in this collection will instantly feel fancy. Perhaps, this was Ricardo Tisci’s grand plan when he invited a few hundred Givenchy fans to the brand’s first New York show. People came dressed up, even if the majority of the time was spent waiting. Fans waited in their best Givenchy and Givenchy-inspired looks with no complaints. With this show being the exception, I’ve seen many people show up to a fashion show dressed as whatever. Me included.
Are we a culture so overworked, we can’t find time to look nice, take a second to iron, take a second to ask ourselves: do I look good? Have we really entered the age of Normcore? Is it just a Downtown New York thing?
I read about this whole trend and I've sort of been delusional about this whole thing about yoga pants taking over Fashion. Net-a-Porter is even baffled about the sales of their athleisure products that are matching the sales of their evening and daywear. But, I digress, is it true? Have we truly forgotten how to get dressed? Should I throw away the style rules that have been ingrained in me since birth- the kind that meant one should get dressed for the doctor’s office and dinner (no matter if it’s just the diner) and just go for whatever’s clean?