It's been an unusual year for fashion. Many of you likely spent the spring and summer of 2020 in sweatpants, if any pants at all. Medical masks did a lot of framing the windows to the soul and, in the brave new world of video conferencing, human interaction became a primarily waist-up situation.
By now, some of us may be itching to dress up again, some of us desire the power of a pressed suit, and some of us have been proudly sporting uniforms this whole time, meriting deep gratitude from those of us who may have outgrown our entire wardrobes. However you've experienced 2020 so far, and it is clear that the face of fashion, like the face of our nation, is fated to shift and change. Here's the direction I'd like to see it go in.
Whatever you wear, try to buy it from a place that could really benefit from the positive impact of your business. Everyone is struggling these days, everyone is operating at half-mast, but small businesses are especially burdened. They still pay rent, still try to support their employees, and probably do so with a surprisingly small cushion. If you've been eyeing a dress or shoes or monocle, now is the time to treat yourself. Show your style while helping a small shop keep the lights on.
New Orleans is the city of celebration. Costumery is in our blood. If you're going to get dressed up, why not get totally, over-the-top whimsical about it? I took the long jog up Magazine Street to Dark Garden Corsetry, where the impeccably put-together Annabelle Zakaluk fitted, cinched, hooked, and tied me into the most luxuriously silky custom piece of clothing I've ever worn. We paired it with their coppery mermaid skirt, a handmade succulent crown from Miette, and golden winged heels from Nola Foot Candy. We did a photoshoot and made a day of it and, while I may not have been walking anywhere in those heels, it was a joy to feel like a queen for a few hours.
Mardi Gras will be back, Jazz Fest will be back, French Quarter Fest will be back, and when they are, let's greet them with all the colors of our glorious, quirky rainbow. There are seasons when this city is a swirl of fabrics and a sea of humans, but not of late. So, Hawaiian shirts, flowy scarves, flower crowns—however you do it, be brave and be bright.
We've all had the eerie experience of living in a New Orleans on pause—a quiet, empty city. What's gotten many of us through is the knowledge that life will and must be back—but what if it isn't? What would New Orleans look like without the music? It's a terrifying prospect and an important question to ask. Many musicians have been through several seasons now without touring, gigging, or recording: all the things that keep them sane and pay the bills. They're hurting. So, show your support. Buy their merch. Wear it proudly. Be a part of making sure our city is filled with joyful sounds again.
You might be surprised to see who has custom merchandise for sale: graffiti artists, tattoo artists, your favorite writer or arts-based charity. If there is someone you admire or a cause you would like to donate to, look them up. There's a good chance you might get a tote or a t-shirt out of the transaction.
I know we're in odd times. I know none of us are going to the opera anytime soon. I know that we've all adapted to the cozy embrace of athleisure wear. So, let's buck the usual trends. Let's do something that feels good. Let's dress for ourselves. Let's put money back into our community. Let's support artists and help keep small businesses afloat. And let's make that fashion.