Ottessa Moshfegh finds herself through vintage fashion
As a writer, second-hand clothes have a special value to me. Stories are embedded in the seams, memories are stuffed in the lining, tucked between the pleats and hidden at the hem. The previous owner may have left behind evidence such as a shopping list in his pocket, coffee stains, or debris from a dance. Imperfections are an indelible detail of second-hand charm. A torn or missing button may tell you where the item came from, and sometimes defects explain how the item got to you. The same is true for people. Our marks and scars tell the story of where we were, where we fell, and how we were healed.
For thousands of years, people wore each other’s hand-me-downs and bought and sold second-hand clothes because it was very expensive to buy new ones. was worn and passed down to a cousin. At some point, however, this hand-me-down tradition became less common. Those who wore old clothes were either poor or queer, or both.
But then the counterculture influenced fashion. 1960s San Francisco Diggers crafted stunning costumes from discarded and donated clothing as part of a radical anti-capitalist lifestyle. London punks then deviated further, mixing clothes from all eras into a new aesthetic intended to make them look like they had survived a journey through hell and hell. I permeated the culture. Then came goth and grunge. In her teenage years in 1993, seeing Kurt Cobain singing on TV in her ragged green sweater changed my world forever. Cobain represents the strength of misfit, honest vulnerability, and beauty that is beautiful even when destroyed by anger and passion.Grunge evokes nihilism in my little broken heart of her teenage years. I spoke to the artist of Everyone I grew up with wore clothes from the same store. Umbro soccer shorts and canvas sneakers. I was no ordinary person, and I affirmed that by wearing second-hand clothes.
Most of my collection came from a thrift store called The Garment District in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In the ’90s, there were mountains of ’40s tee dresses and his ’70s polyester print shirts selling for $1 a pound. I sit on piles of clothes and examine clothes, pulling on sparkly sleeves to find a sequined gown, or finding a perfect pair of Levi’s 501s from a pile of destroyed jeans, all personalized. I felt the rush of adrenaline as I scribbled something down. On my lap, I saw ‘Class of ’76’ written on it. At the time, I wasn’t thinking about the ethical virtues of buying vintage. And vintage dressing was a visual art. I saw it as a fashion collage. I wasn’t clearing through the piles of The Garment District looking for quality basics that I could wear for years.
Wearing vintage clothes helped me feel more at home in this new place for my family and connected with people from the past.I was born in Boston, the first in my family to call the United States home. I was. My ancestry is Croatian and Persian, but New England has always felt rooted in my bones. By wearing the clothes of the people who lived there before me, I was weaving their stories into mine.
The appearance of vintage wear in everyday wear seems to be a recent phenomenon. Born out of privilege and nostalgia, today there is a different kind of need. Affordable clothing is ubiquitous and harmful to the environment. Over its entire life cycle, a pair of jeans emits as much CO₂ as driving a car for about 100 km. And when he tries to throw away those jeans, it can take him up to a year to fully biodegrade. This is only for 100% cotton. Synthetic fabrics only make things worse. Getting dressed in the morning is more ethically taxing than ever. Head-to-toe fast fashion only looks good for one day. Then what? Recycling clothes is one way he clears his conscience.
What vintage enthusiasts like myself love most is seeing new fashion icons bringing together looks from the past. We remember Kaia Gerber wearing her supermodel mother Cindy Crawford’s classic Alaia Leather Her Jacket, making the ’90s new and chic. Zendaya wore her black and white strapless number from her Spring 1992 collection of Valentino on her carpet in red, lifting the Linda Evangelista look and making it all hers. And every day there’s Emma Chamberlain’s “Massive Thrift”, where she explains how to re-adapt her post-1990s work for another era.
And while I think it’s important to organize and reassess your wardrobe from time to time, there are certain items in your closet that you never part with. The blue hooded sweatshirt she wore when she met her husband, the dress her mother wore. She lived in Brussels in the 1970s, her late brother’s “I climbed the Great Wall of China” T-shirt.
Wearing vintage clothes makes me feel like a time traveler. The texture and weight of the clothes I wear on my body, the way it moves around me, the shapes it makes, everything brings me back, as if playing out a memory, whether I am me or I felt completely someone else.
When I sat down to write the show notes for Proenza Schouler’s Fall 2022 runway collection, I couldn’t let go of the idea of fashion as a way to move through time, to reflect the values and glamor of an era. . For the designer, talking to Jack McCollough and her Lazaro Hernandez about the conception of the collection was like talking to a novelist or a filmmaker. They build the world, imagine the characters and their movements. They look at the details of the past and revive it to say something different, as if creating a wardrobe for an unborn woman. They seemed to be asking: And how do the clothes we wear reflect who we want to be when we get there?”
A few months later, at the fall ready-to-wear show, I walked the runway of Mariam Nasir Zadeh, an Iranian-American designer I greatly admire. Besides my nerves and sudden ignorance of how to move my legs, I felt something completely new on the catwalk.No one had ever worn or even seen these clothes. I was presenting them to the world for the first time. There was something magical about it. Usually, when my clothes don’t look good, I live by thinking that the reason why my clothes sag and ride up is because of my body shape and proportions. But as a fashion model from now on, I didn’t have that kind of anxiety. I didn’t have to stiffen myself up to be the weirdo in me. Mariam doesn’t want me to wear makeup. Simple hair. I was naked and exposed and felt myself beautifully. It was as if there was no vintage clothing that defined me.
wrap vona by Ottessa Moshfegh has been released.
This article appeared in the September 2022 issue of ELLE.
Otessa Moshfeg is a fiction writer from New England. Eileenher first novel was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and the Booker Prize, and won the PEN/Hemingway Award for Debut Fiction. my year of rest and relaxation When death in her handsher second and third novels, new york times best seller.He is also the author of a collection of short stories. Homesick for another world and novels, McGlueShe lives in Southern California.