History Repeats Itself

Ever walk into a room expecting to be interviewed and then cringe at the sight of the competition because their jeans are obviously ripped? Well, in the early 1990s, psychologists wondered how and why people drew conclusions based off of what others were wearing. They conducted multiple studies that attempted to answer this question. The consensus was that there was not really a consensus. That being said, the study did show that those who are a part of the same subculture are able to recognize the meaning behind why their peers dress the way they do.

So, why is this relevant to us? Well, I would like to say that the student body at Emory and our generation in general are a part of the same kind of “subculture,” and within this subculture are even more subcultures with different variations of fashion trends. That’s why it is so interesting to go outside and look at our peers — by doing so, we can see fashion vary right before our eyes.

I’m not going to lie, though — it’s kind of tough finding people at Emory who stand out. That’s not to say everyone who goes here is mundane and “normal,” but when it comes to trends, I think it’s safe to say that we see a lot of stagnation in fashion. This isn’t about criticizing others for what they choose to wear, but rather applauding those who take that extra half-hour in the morning to put together a walking, talking art piece. Such an art piece can reflect some kind of personality trait that is easily portrayed through just one simple conversation.

This is Charles Kennedy, a College junior. I met him through staring at him on the bus, slightly weirding him out, and then proceeded to ask if he wanted to be photographed. Despite the creepiness, he gladly obliged, and we carried on a short conversation as we tried to find a place where he could be photographed. In the span of two minutes, and what I independently concluded, I felt like I knew Charles pretty well. His taste in fashion stood out to me (obviously in a positive way), and it didn’t really surprise me when he told me that he was an Anthropology (or should I say the retail store, Anthropologie?) major perhaps looking to attend law school or, as we joked, a track to unemployment.

Let’s examine Charles’ well put-together outfit and see if there’s a kind of conclusion to be drawn about from it. We can start with the original Wayfarer Ray-Bans. These kind of sunglasses date back to 1952 but have made a reappearance. That is sixty years where fashion changed but then reverted back to what it was when our parents were born. But for now, let’s move on to the collared shirt. I think it’s telling that Charles loosened up the first couple buttons on his shirt — maybe it shows that he’s a free-thinker, or maybe it was just because it was 85 degrees outside. Regardless, Charles’ combination of a loose collared shirt with distressed skinny jeans does give off a kind of alternative/independent vibe that I could see reflected in the way he talked to me. Charles’ navy blue loafers gave off the same kind of impression. From what I’ve seen, it wasn’t until a few years back that these 1930s-made shoes started to become popular. The way in which Charles wore all of these things together showed me that perhaps he is nostalgic for the past (minus the technological advances — see “ironic” iPad).

Maybe the reason he wears clothes that are so-called vintage is because he admires the way things were back then, or maybe it’s more simple, and it’s just because he likes the way they look together. Obviously these are all speculations, but if they were true, I wouldn’t blame him for either.

Charles’ clothes not only symbolize good fashion, but they also show a little bit of who he is. I’ve always thought that clothes were a kind of art form, and the way we choose to wear them is our way of drawing our own picture. In my seventh grade humanities class my teacher, Mr. Keithly, told me something that has always stuck with me: “history repeats itself.”

He obviously didn’t contextualize this statement in a fashion sense, but nonetheless, such a saying can be applied to anything that has changed/stayed the same over time. Seeing Charles’ outfit reminded me that history does repeat itself in fashion, and that’s a beautiful thing.

By Priyanka Krishnamurthy