“The finest clothing made is a person’s skin,” Mark Twain once said. “But, of course, society demands something more than this.”
Yes indeed. And what an extravagant human phenomenon that “something more” has become. The adornment of the body is a global, multibillion-dollar industry. Fashion as cultural artifact has become the subject of scholars, society watchers, students of design. It’s the art of looking good, and who doesn’t respond to beauty?
Who doesn’t think clothes are important when going through life day to day? That clothes make the man, that women should dress for success?
Or do you sometimes wonder if your fashion statement is “none of the above”? Are you bummed when you have to suit up for an important meeting on a casual Friday? Do you typically sputter for an answer when your spouse asks, “You’re not going dressed like that, are you?”
What does it mean when you wear what you do? What do your clothes say about you?
What do you want them to say?
Do your clothes ever make you feel good about yourself? Do you listen to those who advise you to look nice at all times, dress like a grown-up, be tasteful, tailored, trend-setting, well-groomed or at least in fashion — if not fashion-forward?
Do you appreciate those who go in style? Those who do it in style? Those who have style?
Do you sometimes find yourself all dressed up with no place to go? Would you give the shirt off your back, walk a mile in their shoes, judge a book by its cover?
If you answered “yes,” “maybe” or “don’t know” to any of the questions above, then this issue of Notre Dame Magazine is for you. So enjoy our spring collection of stories. And if you think the subject frivolous, remember Isaac Bashevis Singer’s warning: “What a strange power there is in clothing.” Indeed.