A Syllabus for Reigniting Love of Clothing

Typewritten text: A Syllabus for Reigniting Love of Clothing (in all of its complexity)
Typewritten text: I have spent a lot of years wondering how to buy clothes. Is there an ethical way? A right way? A sustainable way? 

Nope! Not yet. Even thrifting has gotten complicated as the practice becomes trendy and inflates prices and makes it less attainable. 

I think, in my own experience, the best way to buy/acquire clothing is to make sure they have MEANING. That they have story. That I want to love them and repair them and never want to throw them away. (OK fine you could say they spark joy.)

And they're from all kinds of places. Like here are some examples:
A black fabric with black, purple, and gold embroidered designs on it, with the following typewritten. text superimposed: 

I bought this shirt in a thrift store in Chicago when I was staying with a dear friend. The style is more hers than mine, and it makes me think of her whenever I wear it. (She borrowed it when she came to visit me.)
A pink fabric with a floral design outllined in grey. The image contains the following typewritten text:

A friend sewed this top for me! It's very rudimentary but so inventive—I mean its basically an apron top. I would have never picked it out for myself but it is so fun and hot.
A white skirt with a layer of black netting on top, with a black, circular design. The following typewritten text is in the middle of the image:

I asked my mom about what clothes she has kept and held on to. Like this skirt she's had for 20 years—she bought it as a special little boutqiue that used to be in our neighborhood. I remember going there with her when I was little—it felt so exotic and adult in that store. I seem to remember the dressing rooms had velvet curtains (the skirt still fits my mom).
Fabric of an off-white, wool, Irish sweater with a couple light stains here and there. The image includes the following typewritten text:

This sweater belonged to my grandmother. When she passed away I took most of her clothes. I still remember her wearing this one. It always stuck with me as extremely Camelot-era Kennedy. And as an immigrant in New England I suppose she was channeling it as best she could. This one feels like a hug.
The top of a pair of blue jeans, with the inside pocket sticking out. The image contains the following typewritten text:

My boyfriend has taught himself how to mend his own clothes—based on sixth grade home economics and a smattering of lessons from his mom. I love that he is a repairer. These jeans are nothing special—they are just from J. Crew. But a friend of his said they made his butt look good and so he wore them on our very first date. (I think I failed to adequately appreciate his butt at the time.) The crotch is patched with an old COVID mask that he no longer wanted.
Bright red fabric with a polar fleece appearance. The image bears the following typewritten text:

This is my sister's winter coat—and to me it has kind of become her signature. She is a bright spot of red in the snow. But when she first bought it, it felt a little too loud for her—she wasn't sure if she could pull it off. But she told me it's always good to push yourself a little—not stay too too comfortable in your style. Sure enough, this jacket eventually became her style. I can't believe she almost returned it!
A black fabric with a white dots and stripes pattern. The image contains the following typewritten text:

I bought my boyfriend this scarf at Front Street General Store. That place is like a museum. You can ac tually touch jackets from WWI in the back. And the shop keepers know the story of every item. I believe this is Japanese deadstock. This was very early in our courtship and I think I felt very gentlemanly handing him a hanky.
Blue denim with a white design that looks a bit like scales or feathers. The image contains the following typewritten text:

My sister keeps this denim jacket around and wears it all the time. It was designed by an independent artist—and to my sister, it marked teh first time she ever really invested money in a garment. It cost over $200 and she could not really afford it when she was young. But it has paid for itself in time and it still gets compliments.
A goldish colored fabric with bright pink, red, and magenta swirls all over. The image contains the following typewritten text:

This very 1960s dress belonged to my grandma. When my mom was young she remembers that her mom wore it to a gala for the hospital my grandpa worked in. Not like my mom wears it very often. But its like a museum piece. It has pockets!
A white fabric with delicate, floral embroidery. The image contains the following text:

This is my mom's wedding dress. It's vintage—she picked it up at a secondhand shop. It's from 1939—and its very not modern. It has a lot of little designs and buttons. It's gorgeous. I tried it on once and I ripped the whole thing. Maybe my sister will wear it one day. But it would need a repair. Whoops.
A light blue fabric folded over itself with lines of white dots. The image contains the following typewritten text:

My boyfriend's best friend bought him this scarf on a trip to Japan. He used it as a mask for the first three months of the pandemic.
Black fabric with an o range, grey, and purple floral design. The image contains the following typewritten text:

This was my mom's maternity dress. My sister keeps it now—even though it is not quite her style. My sister said she likes knowing that she was once inside this dress—and that if she ever has a kid, it would be funny if they were in that dress too.
Typewritten text:

The easiest way to make meaning under capitalism

- purchase in person (make it an experience)
- do research. Knowing the story of a brand or designer—not only their supply chain, but also their philosophy! Their intentions! Their context! —makes them more valuable
- Friends. Most of my valuable things were given by friends, chosen by friends, or made by friends. Even just shopping with someone else and absorbing their style makes it an adventure.
- TIME. Practicing delayed gratification is fun. Like really step away and think about whether or not you want the thing and see if it drives you nuts. If it drives you nuts and you have to hunt it down that is a great story!

It is all about creating love that lasts. And I really think you should love what you invest in.
A typewritten list of resources:

Judy Blume's Obituary by Derek McCormack
Cleopatra's Nose by Judith Thurman
Worn by Sofi Thanhauser
Notes on Camp by Susan Sontag
The Lost Art of Dress by Linda Przybyszewski
Fashion is Spinach by Elizabeth Hawes
The Worn Archive (Worn was an incredible Canadian fashion magazine that ended in 2014—this book is a compilation of their best articles)
Rags (this is an old fahsion magazine from the 1970s—think "if Rolling Stone had done clothes instead of music". It's very countercultural and Californian. And you can still find issues on ebay sometimes).
Opulent Tips is the invitation-only email newsletter from the best fashion writer of our time, Rachel Tashjian. Get on the waiting list! And in the meantime read her work in Harpers Bazaar. 
Put This On is a menswear site, ostensibly. But it's really about culture and how style reflects it.
Uniwatch is ostensibly about sports, but its really about uniforms, details, colors, and how teams and what they wear create a sense of place.
In New York, visit Tatter Library Archives. It's a comprehensive library devoted to fashion.
In Los Angeles, visit Suay out in Frogtown. They are re-defining what upcycling and sustainability can look like (which is to say—very cool).

Buy less and more meaningful. That's the goal for me, at least. And I'm just trying not to feel so guilty along the way.

*Addendum: Turns out you can read Rags online and don’t have to buy it on eBay!

A Syllabus for Reigniting Love of Clothing (in all its complexity)
Avery Trufelman