Sunday, 17 May 2009

Dressing for the occasion? Protest Fashion

Until my early 20s I was still pretty caught up with the presumption that sartorial choices should be governed by the occasion. At Uni I'd get dressed for lectures in the morning, change outfits for bumming around college in the afternoon and then make an effort for going out in the evening. All this changed when I befriended a girl from New York who generally maintained a rule of one outfit per day and usually erred on the side of the evening's dressy outfit than any other. From her, I learnt that if I could loosen the chains of social conformism a little, my satisfaction from expressing myself through clothes suddenly increased and at the same time I could get that vain buzz from being the most interestingly dressed person in most situations. The basics of this theory are not that you go out and buy a load more exciting clothes straight away but just that you start by wearing your dressing up clothes at the start of the day rather than for the evening. There are, however, some specific occasions that offer interesting contexts for dressing up a certain way.

I popped down to the recent anti-G20/anti-capitalist/anti-end-of-the-world protests in bank mainly to see if the protesters would also be anti-style and to see if I could distinguish those who had dressed specifically for protest from those who had come in their everyday gear...

I was really excited when I came across the guy with the black winged jacket. No doubt to some he just seemed like a scruffy guy in old clothes. But a glance down at his trousers completely gave his game away for me. Nobody who's care-free about their clothes goes to the extreme of pinning together ripped and antique patched jeans like this, not to mention teaming them with stripey leggings. His 80s vintage black leather jacket with pads and pleats at the shoulder is bang on trend and the faint black polish daubed on his face is enough to give the air of rebellious spirit while failing to serve any practical purpose of disguise. When I asked him if I could pap him for this blog he first grunted something which I figured was approval, then after a took a couple of shots he sullenly raised his two huge lapels. Unsure if he was doing this to show off his outfit or in a half-arsed attempt at disguise his identity I kept on shooting. The woolly wing-like lapels were so much cooler and avant garde than the standard hoody or balaclava/scarf of the militant protester.

I didn't have to wait long before I spotted another guy who'd dressed for the occasion. If the first guy was ironic for the effort he'd made despite his roughed-up style, the second guy's look was ironic for altogether more obvious political reasons. He's wearing a ripped up jacket which a few years ago would have been worn by someone guarding the royal family combined with his bicorn pirate hat and Vivienne Westwood Pirate boots. As he marched past me I got images of this wearer's past conquests during earlier battles against the machines of monarchy and government; his tattered jacket a battle trophy salvaged along the way from some fallen soldier of the state.

Catch me here soon:

On the slate...


  1. Although I no longer adhere to the one outfit per day rule, I am still willing to dress up for a trip to the grocery store or playground. Now that a certain mini fashionista is obsessed with mermaids, pirates, princesses, and animal rescuers (in that order specifically), and dictates our wardrobe choices accordingly, my look is rather less evening wear inspired, and more... interesting... It's too bad that all those protest marches we went on seemed to have been in the dead winter when it was colder than a witch's tit, otherwise we could have dressed up more excitingly. Glad you are rattling your loose chains.

  2. That guy in black's got some serious underground style. Proof that the devil's in the details with fashion: on first glance you wouldn't think he was the leggings type of guy...