Recently amidst the ongoing pandemic I have been experiencing existential dread. Spending most of my time indoors with nothing substantial to do has sent me through a spiral of emotions. In an attempt to combat this existential crisis, I have been reading The Myth of Sisyphus by Albert Camus. So, let’s discuss how to work through questions of life’s meaning, or lack thereof, from my interpretation of this novel and how it connects to dress.
I will begin by stating that there is a lot to unpack in this novel. So much that it will not all fit into this discussion, but rather, I will focus on a few main aspects that stood out to me.
You may be asking yourself “what does this have to do with fashion?”, and the short answer is: everything. Existentialism is about human experiences and our existence, and I think that dress lies at the heart of our lives. Thus, fashion has a place in existentialism as it does in our everyday lives. Additionally, philosophy is a state of mind, one that transcends into all aspects of one's life, including dress.
Life’s Meaning (The Absurd)
The philosopher Albert Camus describes life as a desert, void of meaning. In the preface of the novel, Camus states that, “Although ‘The Myth of Sisyphus’ poses mortal problems, it sums itself up for me as a lucid invitation to live and create, in the very midst of the desert”. Camus asks the reader to face the “absurd”, as he calls it, or in other words life’s meaninglessness. He argues that we must live passionately and create our own meanings in life.
One activity I have found helpful in combating my existential crisis is simply getting dressed. Fashion, for me, is a creative outlet and I find passion in dressing my body. I adorn my body with clothes that make me feel good and I share thoughts about fashion-related things here, as another outlet for my source of happiness. Of course, I don't only find joy in fashion, but I make it a priority to try and live passionately in all aspects of my life, as I think Camus intended.
I will begin this section by saying that I am by no means religious, so I may be biased towards nihilism. But Camus describes a hope for life after death as an, “exile...without remedy since he is deprived of the memory of a lost home or the hope of a promised land” (Camus, 6). Meaning, that when we inevitably die there is no guarantee that we will reach some sort of afterlife or “promised land”. Rather than living and hoping for life after death, we must live in the present moment.
In connection to dress, we can look at the avoidance of garments due to a number of reasons, including norms and anxieties. There is a focus on the social acceptability of certain garments based on location, age or gender in society. But if to live freely and passionately involves dressing for hot girl summer or wearing something someone else may not like, then do it. Don't dress to make other people comfortable because you may not get another chance to wear that mini skirt or “ugly” pair of pants.
Challenge yourself to dress authentically. Wear what you want, whenever you want, because life’s too short not to. Dress like it’s your last day on earth, because maybe it is, and if it isn’t, do it again tomorrow- passionately.
Although I have not yet completed The Myth of Sisyphus, what I have read has inspired me, as I hope it inspires others. Whether life holds some unknown or individualistic meaning, or no meaning at all, it is important to live passionately and presently.
I could go on and on about why I think that fashion and dress are meaningful, but in the end, that is an individualistic opinion. Fashion is a major part of my life and source of my happiness, but it may not be to everyone. Whether it be fashion or something entirely different, seek out happiness in all parts of life, and dress with confidence.