Guardarrr #16: Special occasions are real

Esta es la versión inglesa de mi boletín, puedes encontrar el mismo texto en castellano aquí.


Although I like to present myself as an iconoclast when it comes to fashion, recommending relying only on your own criteria and seeking comfort, I have had too much training in the social sciences to ignore the social and ritualistic function of clothing.

All we put on is a negotiation between three extremes:

  • The purely practical protection against the elements which makes our lives easier and safer,
  • The artistic self-expression which communicates who we are as individuals, and
  • The expectations and customs of our social group, including the communication of our social position and cohesion with the community.

Despite such conceptual separation, in our day to day almost all outfits, even almost all garments, contain elements of all three. For the (almost) purely practical clothing, I’d look at the areas of manual, agricultural or dangerous activities. For the (almost) purely expressive outfits, I’d look at the official eccentrics of the fashion world such as Lynn Yaeger, Anna Piaggi or, even more authentically, the “anonymous” eccentrics photographed for Advanced Style. And as examples of social clothing we have the traditional costumes, the uniforms that are symbolic instead of practical (think full dress uniforms instead of field gear) and what we wear for special occasions.

We have only a few special occasions left to see and be seen. We have been working in pajamas for a year and a half now. Only movies show church Sundays. Graduations happen every day. Christenings and communions have become much less frequent and much more relaxed. I already wrote a thing about formalwear out of a capsule back in 2017.

The most special occasions with explicit rules left to us are weddings and funerals. As for weddings, it seems that everyone around me who wanted to get married did it between 2015 and 2020, and with those weddings it became clear that any serious rules are gone. After seeing a guest in black and several wearing Crocs, I no longer believe in anything.

In the last six months I have had several occasions to see people dressed for funerals, and I have been surprised by the great variety there too. Could it be that wearing black for funeral was canceled and no one told me? Still, I liked putting together a completely black outfit with what I already had my closet. For me it fulfilled its ritualistic function: it marked a special occasion, enveloped me in a color that reflected my state of mind, and gave me a structure to hold onto.

The conclusion? For weddings, anything goes. For funerals, although the norm has been relaxed at least in my geographic and social surroundings, having a black ensemble, preferably a-seasonal, has the potential to console you as it will take away the decision fatigue when you least need it. It will be a real relief not to have to think about the outfit. Yes, it is such a “classic” advice that it could be from 1950 or 1850, but in 2021 my black ensemble has gained additional value.

Anyway, an unoriginal strategy is better than having to go shopping while mourning.

A delicious little extra, fashion historian Valerie Steele on the history and meanings of Little Black Dress + Yolanda Domínguez’s Little Black Dress photo project.

¿Pueden los bioplásticos sustituir a los plásticos convencionales? Cómo ya te imaginas, la respuesta no es como para tirar cohetes. + Plástico hasta en el aire.

Más razones para practicar un minimalismo digital: ¿Cuál es la huella de carbono del correo electrónico?

How do you know if you really dress up only for yourself? If You Love Fashion, You Don’t Stop Loving It in the Face of Adversity.

I love reading garment stories. Here you have one man’s quest for a better black tie shirt, the inspiration, the pattern-making, the material… While an impractical and expensive approach, it is delicious: Bastardization.

+ The modern workplace is not a good place: For millions with mental health problems, the modern workplace is an insult to body and soul + Let’s not abolish sex work. Let’s abolish all work.

And that’s it for this week! I hope that you enjoyed reading and would be very happy to hear from you, regarding dressing for special occasions or anything else… in the comments below, via Facebook or Instagram, or via e-mail at luize.ratniece [a] gmail .com

Guardarrr is a weekly bilingual newsletter dedicated to sustainability and mindfulness in fashion. It is written by Luīze Ratniece, a sociologist and textile activist based in Barcelona. Guardarrr is both a tool for reflection and a crowdfunding channel for the wardrobe tracking app that Luīze is building. If you read this newsletter and value it, please consider going to the paid version to fund this project for a monthly equivalent of a coffee + pastry. Each subscription warms my heart immensely and helps going on, thank you so much for being here with me!

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