What Do You Really Wear?

One of the most transformative experiences in my life came from a project I completed for a cultural anthropology class in college. During this project, we had to track everything we wore for a month and record where it was from, how much it cost, how we obtained it, why we wore it, and so on. At the end of the month, we had to write an analysis of our wardrobe. It was truly eye-opening for me to take such a close look at what I wore–the meaning behind it, the way it was produced, how it came into my wardrobe, and why I chose to wear it–and I’ve been overthinking my wardrobe ever since. During the pandemic, I thought a lot about this paper and it was one of the things that inspired me to start this blog. I wish I still had a copy–I’m trying to track one down, I must have it somewhere!–but it’s been interesting to reflect back on this at this point in my life. Since that class, and that paper, I’ve taken a serious look at just about everything I’ve purchased. Would I want to write down what I’m wearing in another paper? While I’m obviously not writing and presenting on my wardrobe choices in class, by writing this blog I am sharing them, in some ways.

What do you really wear? Do you feel comfortable in it or does it feel like a costume? What environmental impact does your clothing have? What does your wardrobe say about you–is it saying what you want it to say? If not, why not? Those are all questions I thought about deeply during this project, and it’s something I continue to think about today. I’m considering bringing this back as the weather gets colder–a deep, anthropological approach to thinking about clothing, consumption, and what people really need. What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts and whether or not you’d be interested in reading!

12 thoughts on “What Do You Really Wear?

  1. Sarah —

    You know I am especially interested in this topic, and hopeful you’ll find that paper!

    Would love to chat about this topic when you have time. Also, I am overdue in telling you how much I look forward to these blogs! Always makes me happy when they pop into my inbox!


    1. Yes! I’ve been looking but apparently I named every. single. paper. “final paper” or some iteration, so I have about fifty files to go through! Thank you so much as always for your support!!! <3

  2. Yes, please – an approaching Fall is actually the best time for these observations. Trot them out.
    I’m recalling a favored Ellen Gilchrist quote [that I really hope I’ve not used here previously] – “We live at the level of our language. Whatever we can articulate we can imagine or understand or explore.” Looking forward to your contemplations as you explore.

    1. I’m going to get started working on this 🙂 And I *love* this quote–reminds me of a similar one from AS Byatt that I had pinned on my bulletin board for years–“Vocabularies are crossing circles and loops. We are defined by the lines we choose to cross or to be confined by.”

  3. That’s quite a fascinating and thought-provoking assignment. I try to be mindful about my consumption, but your questions are giving me additional points to ponder. Thank you for the challenge.

    1. It was such a great assignment and (obviously) still something I’m thinking about years later. I can’t wait to take a deep dive into this again, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on your own belongings!

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