I Am In Fashion And Therefore I Dress More Awesomer Than You

I Am In Fashion And Therefore I Dress More Awesomer Than You

You are not one of the myriad of interchangeable pieces but a unique human being and if you’ve got something to say, say it, and think well of yourself while you’re learning to say it better.

- David Mamet

Yesterday, on Tumblr, my Internet buddy Diane wrote in defense of Snooki’s upcoming “novel”, arguing (quite rightly, in my opinion), that all those posts “begging” people not to buy it are preaching snobbery. And it got me thinking: when it comes to music, literature, art, fashion…who are we to tell another person what they should and should not like? Beyond the fact that joy is scarce enough in this world, and it makes no sense to me whatsoever to tell someone they they shouldn’t enjoy anything (legal) that brings them happiness, the arts are virtually defined by the absence of black-and-white, right and wrong. If I tell you that 2 + 2 = 5, you’re more than welcome to sit me down for a math lesson, but if I tell you that I really love graphic novels? You may not agree – you may think they’re lowbrow/worthless/juvenile – but you’re going to have a hard time convincing me to see the error of my ways.

Another thing that happened yesterday: I received a series of comments from one woman under the Winter Sun post that I put up on Monday (only one ended up being approved; you can read my commenting policy here if you’re unfamiliar with it). In the comments that I did not approve, the woman took potshots at me personally, but also seemed determined to let me know that she is In Fashion (and therefore Knows More Than Me). In my response to her, I tried to convey that I was interested in how she’d style the outfit differently not because she is a Fashion Expert…but because she’s a person, and because there is so much beauty in the enormous variety of what people love and choose to put out into the world.

I also extended her a bit of an olive branch, asking her – as a self-professed “educator” – to share her thoughts about “unpredictable” fashion choices in general and alternatives to the outfit ideas I posted in particular, and her response was to post another comment (again, obviously not approved) in which she completely ignored my interest in her thoughts on her own industry in favor of stomping her feet and moaning about my lifestyle choices in amazingly original ways that I have never heard before. (Super educational!)

So, eh. I’m going to give my response to this woman a B-. Not because I wasn’t able to turn the conversation in a constructive direction (although I wasn’t, and I really would have liked to).

I think my response wasn’t a great one because the truth is that I don’t care what she thinks. And I’ll tell you why.

There is a larger issue at hand here, one that I’ve thought about a great deal. I despise snobbery in fashion (and music, and art, and literature) enormously. I despise it because…look, those people who want to make you think they know more than you about these things? They may very well have a broader background in the topic, but that doesn’t make your opinions about what you like any less valid. The commenter wrote to me that I have no right to post about clothing because I am not “a fashion person.” Really? Sure I am. So are you. If you like clothing, and you wear it…then your opinion counts, as far as I’m concerned. (Also, people who say things like “you’re not a faaaahshion person”? Well…good luck to them. I’m sure they’re extremely charming and loads of fun to be around.)

When it comes to fashion, to literature, to art, to music, you love what you love; there are no absolutes. But the best way that these people have to make themselves feel awesome is to make sure that you know that your opinions are wrong. They make you feel scared to say that hey, you kinda like Hootie and the Blowfish, or that you think that rockabilly hairstyles are pretty cool, or that you enjoy reading paperback thrillers sometimes, because they’re going to laugh at you, and mock you, and otherwise shut you down. They’re going to tell you that your taste is terrible, that your job is unimportant, that your ideas aren’t good enough, that you chose the wrong life partner or house or diet or freaking dinner plate pattern.

And that is a crappy thing to do.

Were these comments that insufferable? They were childish and they discouraged engagement, but I’ve seen worse. What really got to me was the haughtiness behind it; the know-it-all sentiment of trying to “educate” me (us). If you want to tell me about all the things you love and care about? I’m dying to hear. But if you want to tell me that what I love and care about is wrong, my interest goes out the window. I’m happy to tell you what I do like, but I am never going to make fun of you for liking something else. For wearing what makes you feel great, for listening to what makes you happy, for reading what turns you on.

You know what an attitude like this does? It shuts down the conversation and creates fear. And fear breeds homogeneity. And I don’t know about you, but I want a world full of difference.

People like this want to make you feel scared to experiment, scared to express yourself in whatever ways make you happy. Why? Because they are scared. It’s not anger. It’s not jealousy. It’s fear. And the only way for them to deal with their fear is to make sure that you feel it more deeply.

I say go ahead: wear your ball gown with rainboots. And tell all those people who make you feel like you can’t to take their expertise and shove it.

  • http://sartorialperfection.tumblr.com/ sartorial perfection

    YOU GO GIRL! i love this post and agree with it 100%. i’ve been at fashion week a couple of times and it is a breeding ground for “fashion people” with higher than high heels and holier than thou attitudes. they think they’re so wonderful – and the funny thing is, they’re all alike! if you love it, wear it. listen to it, be it, read it, eat it. life is too short to spend it caring about what all the judgmental folks think.

  • Vmnysoul

    Thank you for expressing what I’ve been dying to express for a while now. I know a particular person who is a”snob” for food, fashion, music, etc. She swears she has divine taste and that everyone else is tasteless and below her.

    People who like what they like and not because it’s trendy and an unknown “novelty” are REAL people!

    • jordanreid

      food is 100% another arena in which this issue comes up!

  • Beth

    You Rock! Seriously.

  • http://jans30before30.wordpress.com/ Jan

    LOVE this post.

  • http://theessentialman.tumblr.com The Essential Man

    As a person in fashion who has won a bunch of important awards that are important to only people in fashion (therefore I totally know more than everybody!), I completely agree with you.

    This is why I generally don't like to discuss what I think is “style” and “fashion”. And another reason I don't bother reading a lot of the fashion blogs because honestly it doesn't interest me. And my friends are the same as well. We are just people that like to make things and over analyzing it, I feel, would just make me annoyed with the whole industry.

    A bit more back on topic, we all are, no matter what “level”, interested in fashion. Because simply fashion is what you wear. A person never goes into a store and sees something and thinks “this is ugly and going to make me look bad, I'm buying it.” Some people want to assume they have an authority, but your style is like a country and you only really hold power over yourself. I respect Karl Lagerfield, but I would never listen to his fashion advice when it comes to men for me.

    I'm glad you didn't approve her comments, I do the same to anyone that isn't willing to have a decent conversation. Like they say, it's easier to burn a house down than to build it.

    • nicole

      LOVE THIS POST and love this reply!

      • jordanreid

        seconded (re: reply :)!

  • http://caseyliz.tumblr.com Casey

    I'm a “fashion snob” and that was actually probably my favorite outfit of yours that you've ever worn.

  • suga

    Posts like this one is why I love your blog, Jordan.

  • Pamela

    Jordan…you are such a sweetie pie and I LOVE your blog….you inspire on a daily basis. My fav blogs are the blogs where the blogger loves what they are doing, saying, wearing, cooking….forget the experts. I enjoy the inspiration that comes from so many fun bloggers!! Thank you for being you!

    • jordanreid

      thank you so much! what a nice thing to say :)

  • Liv818

    you may not care what she thinks, but the post above makes it seems like it does truly bother you. believe me, i get why, and i’d be bugged too. i just think youre a lot better than that. i dont think you need to dignify rude comments with a thoughtful response that will get the same flippant attitude from this person. forget her! you know what they say…haters gonna hate.

    • jordanreid

      oh, it definitely bothered me. usually i do try to ignore this junk, because responding really is just screaming into the wind, but something about this clarified my thoughts on a topic that i've been trying to broach for awhile (i actually wrote a version of this post a couple of months back titled 'terrified of talking about music').

      i getcha, though, and i appreciate the sentiment!

      • Liv818

        “but something about this clarified my thoughts on a topic that i've been trying to broach for awhile” – awesome. i totally applaud you. it *should* be for you not for the meanies :)

  • Maggiesimek

    amen. I work in fashion and everything is so subjective. I tell people all the time- there are no fashion rules. If you feel confident and amazing in what you are wearing, you will look fabulous. Confidence is number 1 for looking good and feeling good.

    • jordanreid

      agree!

  • alexisjulian

    I love this post. I remember in 9th grade I had my very first iPod and a kid asked to see it, and he spent the rest of the period going through my music selection and held nothing back when he felt that my taste was awful, and occasionally gave me kudos. And…jesus that makes me mad even now. From that day forward I have really tried to never judge someone based on their own preferences. I may not like the music that gets them going, but man oh man is music ever personal, and how badly does it sting when someone says they hate your favorite band?
    And even now, as a quasi-adult, my boyfriend and I went out with another couple about a week ago and they made some lame comments about how “top 40 is noise pollution” yadda yadda, when I had brought up the fact that 3Oh!3 is my only real guilty pleasure because it's so frat boy but wow does it make me want to dance! And it still hurt my feelings. I guess the bottom line is, in a conversation, who do you want to be? The person who is amped about something (anything! even Snooki's new book) or the person who has only negativity to contribute, and is just making you feel tiny so they can feel tall?

    • jordanreid

      i think i may have known that kid. in fact, i think i may have dated him. twice.

      when kendrick was playing shows with harlem shakes i spent a lot of time in the presence of indie rocker types, and whoa, did a lot of them ever want to make sure that i knew that my taste in music was atrocious. how i felt trying to have conversations with people who considered themselves the end-all-be-all of musical taste was actually what started me thinking about all this.

      on another note, i'm now googling 3Oh!3.

      • jordanreid

        apparently it's be-all-end-all.
        thankyoukendrick.

        • alexisjulian

          hahaha I say end all be all.

          isn't 3oh3 totally heinous? I mean musically it requires very little talent but HOMG if it doesn't make you want to dance you're missing some wiring somewhere, hahaha

          • jordanreid

            i'm a vegetarian and i ain't f-in scared of him…
            LOL!

  • Elizabeth

    Jordan, you've made my day. Your unique, respectful, and creative outlook on life is so inspiring to me– I feel like your blog is a guilty pleasure to read. Guilty, because you're the kind of person whose goodness and joy in life makes other people feel good (like Dove chocolate…). I saw the comment you were discussing above, and saw how much effort you put into trying to turn the conversation, and couldn't help but think that the woman was abusing your kind nature and wanted to pick a fight just because she could. It was an abuse of her internet anonymity, and probably not something she would have done in your living room face-to-face.
    I think we all need to stop imagining these kinds of superior voices, too– and allowing what we think other people might think of our interests to curtail our joys. Rock on, Jordan.

  • hjb

    Just to put in my two cents:

    I totally agree that no one should be policing taste (providing we're talking about things that don't bring violence to others/ourselves!).  But I think there is validity to expertise in any field, and that an “expert” voice is deserving of being recognized as having authority on something.  

    When I get sick, I seek out the help of trained doctors because they're experts in their fields, have done the work, years of schooling and research, and can advise.  I think experts in fields of arts and humanities (fine art, cultural studies, fashion, you name it) are equally of deserving of being recognized and valued for the authority and elucidation they bring to their fields.  And I think it's worth acknowledging that a cultural product (Snookie's book, etc) is either art or entertainment, while bearing in mind that art and entertainment don't exist on a linear continuum.  What entertainment brings to a culture or audience is a totally different thing than what art does, and I think it's beside the point to fault one for not being the other.  There is space for both, and both deserve to be understood, enjoyed, and appreciated for their contributions.

    I can sympathize with experts who get frustrated when people casually claim absolute authority on topics an expert has worked years to understand, but I abhor experts who are defensive simply because they resent others for having a voice.  

    Expertise should never be used to lord over non-experts, or especially not to dictate who gets to be part of the conversation.  It seems a little short-sighted, really, to encounter an expert like your fashion critic who is flipping out about what you represent on your blog.  What is s/he worried about–that person X will read Ramshackle Glam and dismiss the fact that Vogue exists? It seems a little ridiculous–we need both in this world.  And if I was a fashion expert, I probably would be a huge fan of people reading your blog and getting curious about fashion and getting motivated to learn more about it in a way that probably will expose and develop a deeper understanding of fashion, ie, expertise.

    I think an unspoken issue here is how class and power intersect with this–who has access (money, time) to develop expertise, and who doesn't.  And on that note, isn't it funny how the experts who are typically the most defensive and critical of non-expert voices, are also the ones least interested in democratizing and sharing their knowledge so that everyone could be on equal footing in the shared conversation.

    • http://twitter.com/dianeshipley Diane Shipley

      Great comment, hjb. Especially the last paragraph.

    • jordanreid

      i think you clarified a really important element that's missing from my argument. i believe in the existence – and value – of expertise in the arts, no question. but like you say, it's when said expertise is “lorded over non-experts” that a problem arises; when it's used to dismiss how other people feel about things as subjective as fashion and music. when it comes to art, feeling is everything, and feeling is something you can't legislate against.

  • Sera

    Bravo Jordan! As someone who spent a lifetime in the industry – the only thing that made my Jersey accent stronger was someone’s pretentious attitude about the Hamptons. Bravo! Art is in the eye of the beholder!

  • Sera

    OH and the last thing – orange can be persimmon and pumpkin and terracotta but sometimes its just orange and that’s ok too
    Again – thanks for your blog and your great post!

    • jordanreid

      indeed :) thank you for reading!

  • caitlindentino

    love this. so very true!! xx

  • shana

    I understand why you didn't like/ didn't post her comments, but it just isn't fair to dedicate an entire post about these purported comments, paraphrasing them.

    • jordanreid

      fair enough. and that's something i gave a lot of thought to…but the simple fact is that i'm not going to post comments that violate my policy. to me, making exceptions to my policy – regardless of the circumstances – is even more problematic.
      and as to whether this entire post is about these comments…well, it's not. i've gotten many comments along these lines over the months since i've been blogging, in addition to having experienced situations like this countless times over the course of my life, and what i wrote is about something much larger than a chip on one woman's shoulder. i'm not just paraphrasing her; i'm paraphrasing all of those people i've encountered – and all of the ones you have, too.

  • Arianne

    I think you're awesome, Jordan. I've been reading your blog for a few months and every single post inspires me to care less what people like that poster thing and have more fun. As a girl in high school, it can be easy to feel that the only things I should wear are head-to-toe designer (not that I'm against designer!) or outfits that draw waaaayyyy more attention to my t&a than to my own sense of style (which I do have a problem with). Seeing you rock sparkles with flannel, ballgowns with rainboots, and pigtails in an incredibly chic way has encouraged me to take more fashion risks and put more thought into the way I dress than years of reading the opinions of “fashion people” in magazines has. SO thanks a bunch and keep it up :)

    • jordanreid

      this comment absolutely made my day. thank YOU.

  • http://seajo.tumblr.com/ Chelsea

    I go back and forth between my opinions on a lot of Internet bullying/commenting/censoring/etc., but I agree with everything that you say here. I do think that there may sometimes be a less optimistic or nice way of it– sometimes people may make you feel scared to experiment because they flat out don't like the way you're experimenting, they flat out don't like rainboots and a fur vest with the dress. And while I support people's right to say that, there's also common courtesy. What does a person get out of being mean?

    Many years ago, I was a camp counselor, and for young girls (about eight). I was SHOCKED at the girls who came from more metropolitan areas (mainly Atlanta; I was in western NC) and how eager they were to be grown-up. They wanted to wear mascara and eyeliner to the squaredance and squeal over boys– at EIGHT! At eight, I was still giving myself my daily cooty shot, and wear cotton culottes my mom picked out for me at J. Byron's and TJ Maxx. And there was one girl who was like that, too– a girl who, funny enough, wanted to wear her riding boots, her favorite shoes, with her cotton dress. The other girls made fun of her, and she came in to my room in the cabin, upset. She asked if I thought she could wear her riding boots. I said of course; and what I thought was, “Hell, wear it NOW when you can get away with it!”, which is sad, because people should be able to wear what they want regardless. But she gave me the biggest hug and said thank you. I can only hope that that little girl will still feel like she can wear what she wants, and that while other girls may feel that they're just as entitled to feel differently… that maybe they'll be nice about it.

  • Ella Lo

    I appreciate some of this, for sure, but this is a fallacy: “People like this want to make you feel scared to experiment, scared to express yourself in whatever ways make you happy. Why? Because they are scared. It’s not anger. It’s not jealousy. It’s fear. And the only way for them to deal with their fear is to make sure that you feel it more deeply.”
    It's a cliche and simply isn't true. I read more fear in your post than anything. I do think it's a bit unfair to rally a bunch of people in the name of invisible comments. I found her comments fair for the most part.

    • jordanreid

      absolutely; these comments did indeed bother me…although i wouldn't classify how they made me feel as “fearful”. but like i said below, this is a topic i've been trying to broach for awhile, and this clarified my thoughts on a lot of things.

  • Susie

    Well said. Personal Style is an opinion unique to oneself. A colleague once said to me “when you meet someone nice in fashion, you hold on tight” and that has stayed with me ever since. When someone has a 'high and mighty' complex, I simply turn their page and move on. Who needs it? I applaud you for saying what many of us are thinking!

    • jordanreid

      i agree, but i think it goes beyond fashion: whenever you meet anyone nice in the world, you hold on tight :)

  • http://StylebyIzabela.blogspot.com StylebyIzabela

    This is my first time on your blog, and I will be coming back for some more! I love everything that you have said here (and said so well, too). It really cements the idea in my head that I don't give a crap if somebody doesn't like what I'm wearing — who are they to tell me what I should or should not wear?! I only regret the many years in college and high school that I worried about what other people thought…

    • jordanreid

      so happy you're here! i definitely spent a lot of time worrying about what others thought – although i didn't exactly tailor my tastes to suit expectations (i did things like wear prom gowns to first period), so i was made fun of (a LOT). i think it's pretty cool to figure out that no one can dictate your taste for you, regardless of when you come to that realization.

  • Em

    You kind of rock. I found your blog through another one and I am going to subscribe because you seem to speak/write well and I really like your attitude. I wish I could just say ditto and sound just as mature and articulate but I am pretty sure it doesn't work that way. Have a great weekend and keep doing you. Because that is a pretty fabulous thing.

    • jordanreid

      what a wonderful compliment – thank you so much!

  • Whitney Sherrell

    That was great! I used to be one of those people that knocked people's musical taste because I am a musician, but then one day I sat myself down and said “hey, one day people may be judging your music the same way.” Art is about expression and expression is beautiful no matter how you do it. Thanks for writing this!

    Whitney
    http://www.MyStylishFriends.blogspot….

    • jordanreid

      “expression is beautiful no matter how you do it” – couldn't agree more.

  • Morgan_tanner

    I found your site by way of whatiwore.com and I must say I am glad I did. I read this post a felt like we agree completely when it comes to things of this nature. I look forward to following your blog more in the future.

    • jordanreid

      welcome, and thank you so much!!

  • Cartom93

    I found your site by way of whatiwore.com and I love what you have to say. I love Jessica's blog and am often completely blindsided by the hateful and hurtful things that people feel completely free to post in her comments. I love fashion blogs and the ones that I visit regularly (now I'll add yours) include a wide spectrum of tastes and styles. Just because I don't particularly like yellow doesn't mean no one should wear it. And for some reason the anonymity of the internet seems to give some people the idea that they can be rude, disrespectful and downright mean. Of course, some of these people might actually make those comments to someone's face but I doubt it. My personal opinion is that these people are jealous! I love seeing what other people are wearing. And if it isn't something that I would wear myself, so what? The bottom line is wear and do what makes you happy. Haters and rude people, just get over your tired self.

    • jordanreid

      so glad you found your way here – welcome!

  • http://shortofsomething.blogspot.com/ Sara

    It's like people never watched Bambi. I can clearly remember Thumper saying, “Mama says, 'If you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.'” Somehow it doesn't apply on the internet I guess. The whole “I don't like x and you shouldn't like x either” mentality is sad and a little scary. I'm glad you tried to make peace with your crazy commenter, even if it didn't take.

  • Hannah

    I've been thinking about this topic alot lately too. I have really seen it in people's opinions about music lately and this idea of “music snobbery” totally exists! I agree with you that everyone's tastes are different and people shouldn't be so rude and harsh about things that are really just personal opinions. Your post sounded very well thought out, and I enjoyed reading it!

    • jordanreid

      thank you so much!

  • Ava

    I agree with your basic premise, but your way of summarizing her comments gives the premise a slightly petty he-said-she-said tone, IMHO.

    • jordanreid

      understood, but like i said below: the simple fact is that i'm not going to post comments that violate my policy.

  • Raecine

    this is the first time im reading your blog, and i swear after reading this entry i love you! Good Job!

    I absolutely hate shows like project runway or so you think you can dance etc. etc. because i just cannot understand what premise they find right to be judging these contestants from.

    And i think music snobbery is the worst of it all! omg it pisses me off ….

    neways enough of my ramblings … im def following ur blog now.

    • Anonymous

      thank you so much!! welcome :)

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  • Sarahstob

    Thanks for posting this. Your comments were uplifting and well written. 

  • Murray0711

    You are fabulous in so many ways!

  • http://www.facebook.com/cesilia.nandlal Cesi Nandlal

    I just found your blog and I love it! And blog posts like this give people like me, shy and always worried that I will say something “dumb” or “not right” etc., a ray of light that we really should’t think that way, because in the end it is what we like :)

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