Sometimes I go down an internet rabbit hole that leads me to some very unexpected places. So it was when I reached a particularly intriguing dead end at the website for the Rational Dress Society, or RDS. I think they make some really logical arguments for their movement, but I also think their idea will never catch on.
They think, and I agree, that the fashion industry has fed us the myth that shopping leads to happiness and that the more stuff you have, the better. In fact, I feel the opposite is true. All that stuff in our closets used to be money, and we could have used that money to have more memorable experiences with loved ones or increased financial stability for our golden years. Instead, we try to keep up with the latest trends and express our individuality rather than our unity.
The RDS also points out that the vast majority of our clothing is now produced overseas, and that fashion industry labor abuses are devastatingly rampant. That, and the environment is on a downward spiral, so we really shouldn’t be focusing on producing enough textiles to clothe each person a hundred times over. Again, I agree.
This counter-fashion collective’s solution to this is that everyone should wear the same thing: specifically, jumpsuits. They have a rose-colored view of jumpsuits changing the world. This is from their website:
“What alliances might be formed between JUMPSUIT-wearing individuals? Just as we reject the mini-mansion in favor of the city, refuse the automobile in favor of the train, JUMPSUIT offers a way to forego the insular logic of self-expression in favor of forming communal bonds. We embrace our neighbors. We reject the signs of class, race and gender that are inscribed into our daily interactions. In the future, we will be brothers and sisters together in JUMPSUITS.”
In essence, the RDS feels that if this jumpsuit became a universal garment, there would be fewer divisions between us. I’m all for that. And imagine how much closet space each of us would have if we only had one or two jumpsuits to store! They also speak quite a bit about “freedom from the tyranny of choice.”
It’s a fascinating concept with one fatal flaw. People enjoy expressing their individuality. I know I do. I’m far from a fashion plate. I go for comfort over style. But I do prefer certain colors and I like how certain styles make me feel. I don’t really worry about trends. As an overweight female over 50, I have been rendered invisible for the most part, anyway. But I do know that I feel better in some clothes than I do in others, and I can’t imagine that that is going to change any time soon.
And while this jumpsuit purports to be gender neutral, as a female I really hate the idea of having to take off an entire jumpsuit just to go to the bathroom. (Especially since the older I get, the more in a hurry I become.) As if lines to the ladies room weren’t obscenely long already, this concept would stretch them around the block. The solution would be a flap in the back, I suppose, but that would make me feel infantilized. No thanks.
It would be wonderful if we focused less on fashion and got more creative and expressed our individuality with other forms of art. That’s one possible outcome that I’d absolutely love. But I can also see things going to the opposite extreme. Fashion police might actually become a thing. “Hey, who said you could modify your jumpsuit? Come with me…”
But for those who really are interested, you can go to the RDS website and get a free, open source pattern, or you can purchase a jumpsuit directly from them. They have a long sleeve design for Fall and Winter, and a short sleeve design for Spring and Summer. But no shorts, and that’s a shame on a planet where the heat is increasing every year. I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to modify the pattern, but then, there we go again, acting all individualistic. Shame on us.
It’s a slippery slope, comrade.
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