Tramp Chic – An Empowering Style Guide for the Apathetic


I don’t underestimate fashion; yes, that might seem narrow minded and socially reductive. I concede that broad conceptualizations of ‘Style’ have been vital in shaping the Western aesthetic consciousness. Neither do I hold any resent towards those who can afford to indulge in high-couture and more debonair existences, so please don’t assume I am being childish when I state that I couldn’t give a fuck about fashion.

I feel aware that in rejecting fashion, I will appear to be rejecting a complex structuralist basis for all social interaction, so I wish to provide some context to make the grounding for my manifesto clear.

Perhaps my circumstances are peculiar. It was recently suggested to me that I am afflicted by an almost pathological disinterest in other people’s opinions WRT to my physical appearance. Whilst I wouldn’t have put it that way myself, I was forced to admit that for quite some time now, I have not been affected by the fears and insecurities some people suffer from, e.g. stage fright; I have no problem addressing any type of individual, and, in fact, confronting others on behalf of friends has become one of my primary utilities in my current social group. Perhaps my on-going struggle with clinical depression is a deciding factor to this; in any case, I don’t doubt that there are some readers who can empathize with this.

There was a stage during my puberty where I was, admittedly, very aware of self-image. I took note of how others perceived me. On reflection, this was primarily due to the fact I was interested in putting my P in some V, and appearance seemed a primary factor in most female’s choices of mate.

However, as my self-awareness developed, sex became less spiritual and more routine, and my body plateaued to a regular plainness I was happy to abide by. The self-image I was interested in became the development of a ‘brand’, another concept I am sure that many readers will be empathetic towards.

Consequently, the pleasures I had once elicited from high-capitalism began to wane. My wardrobe existed as a pseudo-shrine to a younger self. In a time of flux, change and updates, I felt a deep sense of self-satisfaction knowing that I could make at least my clothes last. I didn’t look like the sack-fashioned dudes in the Matrix’s ‘real world’, but I was happy in the knowledge I would never be ‘up there’ with the ‘faces’ of the London club scene.

The clothes I accumulated through my adolescence were mostly simple; hardly ever ostentatious. They made up a very functional array of basic materials for a skinny white boy:

  • x 2 pairs of Jeans
  • 10+ plain, non-branded t-shirts
  • x 3 lightweight jackets/ x 1 coat / x 1 heavy jacket
  • x 5 hoodies [with and without zips]
  • x 2 pairs of trainers
  • ~ 10+ polo shirts
  • etc.

I am still wearing roughly the same set of clothes. Many have holes and stains, yet I don’t feel the need to dispose of them. Money is a finite resource to be spent elsewhere.

This ‘Tramp Chic’ ethos is only an anti-fashion in the way that Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘White Paintings’ are an anti-art. I find it far more productive to think of them as a site for projection, a catalyst for allowing social interactions to rise above the aesthetic. I suppose ‘Tramp Chic’ is a deceptive moniker. I do not smell and my clothes are not dirty. I wear only what I need to. The ‘Tramp’ element comes from the fact that presentability has little-to-no-bearing on my casual, non-professional social interactions.

I honestly believe that if an individual is brave [and/or apathetic] enough, they can survive with a wardrobe of maybe four outfits. I challenge you to survive a month with a detoxed wardrobe, and report back to Thought Catalog with the results.

I wish you more than luck.

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