The Sweater That Wasn’t A Sweater

Photo: Vogue UK

Fashion is all about expressing your identity through self decoration. Consciously or not, you wear a piece of clothing to express an idea, a mood or a philosophy.

Some of us also use it as a way to stand out and, sometimes, that longing for uniqueness makes us buy stuff that is far from practical. This is something that, I confess, I’ve done many many times in the past. My pattern? When I see something that makes me smile, I buy it.

Those tiger printed 7-inch high wedges (impossible to walk with)? Check! That cotton candy flared skirt (I wear skirts about once a year)? It’s mine. Those bug-eyed velvet fuchsia sunglasses? They look so beautiful (in their case which they never leave).

But lately, I’ve been trying to be smarter about what I buy, because I’m tired of spending and not having anything to wear, but also for obvious ethical reasons.

In the midst of my detox, I recently came across an item that would have been dangerously appealing to the old Joëlle. The thing (because I really don’t know what else I could call it) had the shape of a long sleeve sweater, BUT there was neither a hole for my head, my core or my arms. It was a 2-D top that was solely meant to be tied around the hips.

I literally spent 10 minutes looking at it trying to figure out the answer, like if it were a riddle. And just like a riddle, I never came up with an answer. After passing the mental stage of problem solving, I went into full denial and then to an uncontrollable incredulous laugh . Poor top, it just lost its sole life’s purpose.

But come on, really? Why not make a regular top that gives us the freedom to wear it as a top (duh!) or like Brittany Murphy in Clueless? You know, the sweater’s concept was doing just fine before that. To me, it looks like a (poorly) disguised way of making profit by splitting the role of one top into two.

I work in fashion, so obviously I’m all for personal expression through style,  but I have a feeling that most of the customers who will see that number will have more or less the same reaction: Why would I invest into a no-sweater sweater when I can spend a couple more dollars and get a real one?

It’s easy to imagine that piece displayed in a contemporary museum as a critique of our society’s consumerism, but it’s not. It’s in stores. Maybe it will sell out, maybe it won’t. Regardless, I’m not sure if I’m comfortable with that level of self decoration.

What do you think? 


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