I Kept an Outfit Journal for a Year and This is What I Learned
In my first year of University, my fashion professor challenged the class to keep an outfit journal, logging what we wear each day and why. This idea really resonated with me as I enjoy a sprinkle of introspection throughout my days, so, I did it. For a year I carried a notebook on me wherever I went in an attempt to stay on top of the task at hand. Each day on my commute to school I would stand in the crowded subway, inch the book out of my bag and note what I had adorned my body with that day and my motivations behind each piece. Then, at the end of the day, riding back on the empty bus, sitting on the grimy red fabric of the subway, I would include what I did, who I saw and some minor reflections of the day that had just passed.
This experience gave me the opportunity to investigate myself from the lens of dress. Through keeping this journal, I gained knowledge about myself, and some general findings. Firstly, I learned that what I wear is a major indicator of what parts of myself I am confident and insecure about. While looking through my journals, I noticed a trend of things I try to show off and hide, the biggest one being wanting to wear shirts that show off my tattoos. Additionally, I also gained an insight into what my favourite items are in my wardrobe, staples including my black puffer jacket, Slipknot t-shirt, black lipstick and colourful socks. Noticing these trends has given me a better understanding of myself as a person and even aids me in purchases since I know what I like to wear.
This experience also made me realize that we dress to our environments. When I wake up and get dressed in the morning, the first thing I think about is what I am doing that day and what the weather is like. I become preoccupied with my tasks in the day, because I must dress to fit around them. For example, I will dress more comfortably for a long day of work or classes, versus a day with friends. If you take a look at my journal pages above, you can clearly see that I overrode my yearning to wear lipstick, because I knew it would take a lot of reapplying over my 6-hour school day, plus commute.
In addition to dressing to our environment, we also dress based on who we are around. In my journals I state who I saw that day because I believe that it is a major factor when determining my outfit. Clothing is on full display to the world throughout the day and is how first impressions are made. So, we dress to be judged. For example, according to Charles Cooley on the looking glass self “I am not what I think I am, I am not what you think I am, I am what I think you think I am”, meaning that we base our identities around how we think we appear to others. So, we will dress in accordance to how we think others will perceive us. One of the two journal entries above mirror’s this concept, where I state that the shirt shows I “like something cool”, meaning that I wish for others to perceive me as such.
Keeping an outfit journal was an insightful experience that allowed me daily introspection, and even felt very therapeutic. And now, I have the ability to look back at these journal entries and have a physical recount of life events and outfits. This allowed me to track events in my life and delve deeper into them, as well as myself. Not to mention, I have a year's worth of outfits right in front of me if I ever need inspiration. I challenge you to take the time to learn more about yourself, whether it be an outfit journal or some other form of introspection, it is well worth the time.
Cover Art: Brenna Larouche