Last week I met with my dealer for the first time in a while. The cab dropped me at our usual meeting spot — the Port Authority Bus Terminal of New York. I was hungry for the stuff.
Knowing what a loyal customer I am, my dealer was happy to see me. “Let me show you what I’ve got,” she said. “I’ve got some good stuff for you.”
As she showed me bags of Jackie O., I kept saying “bigger!”
I finally settled on a bag that would last me a long time. I was excited about it. I thanked my dealer, promised to come back and snuck out the door with my newest pair of sunglasses!
Instantly upload new picture. Change profile. In our culture of Craigslisting, iPoding, Facebooking, online shopping, online dating, automated this and digital that, just about every possible human interaction is becoming exponentially more impersonal. And perhaps not so fortunately, our social relations are being watered down to a single “poke.”
All of these impersonal social relations mean that it’s difficult to get noticed in the real world — especially by objects of our desire. Because everything I need to know about you I can read on Myspace. I can read your profile to decide if the real you is interesting enough for me to talk to.
Part of the appeal of representing ourselves online is the chance to be anybody but our boring selves. Online profiling is a lot like celebrity in the sense that once logged in, we get to imagine and create a meticulously manicured representation of ourselves. In an online profile, we are the stars of our own spectacle, produced by You Pictures. But what we really want is for people to get to know the person behind the spectacles. Fashion, both good and kooky, can be used to get people to notice the real you. Once you’ve got them reeled in, you can tell them whatever your online profile might say. It’s the reeling in that’s tough.
One of the tasks of fashion is to encourage these live, interpersonal relations, to inspire random people to say to you, “Nice haircut!” or to ask, “Where did you get those great shoes?!” Because actually, maybe your shoes are really ugly, and maybe your haircut makes you look like an ass hat. In the end, the intent of the compliment doesn’t really matter Nobody hates a compliment. And everybody knows that a good compliment can go a long way.
Here is where sunglasses and other fashion gimmicks kick in. A gimmick commands attention and makes you immediately recognizable and remembered for that trait. Everybody has a gimmick. It could be an accessory, a particular style, a way of speaking, the way you walk, a haircut or even the fact that you snore.
For the divas and the fashion conscious, the most immediate task of the gimmick is to get noticed, especially in our impersonal, online profiled culture.
Ever since Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis popularized the “huge-black-sunglasses-and-scarf-over-head” look, shades have become a major fashion gimmick, a pronunciation of “fabulousness,” and a defining must-have for celebrities and celebutantes. We use sunglasses and fashion as tools not only to cover up, but also to draw attention to our actual selves on the street in an attempt to transcend our profiles and ignite an actual interpersonal relationship instead of an inter-profile relationship.
Why else do people wear these glamour tools at the club, at night, in the rain, indoors, at the dinner table? In our search for designer glasses, kooky frames or a simply a pair that nobody else has, we’re really competing for eye-level attention. Let’s face it: It’s difficult to ignore a pair of outrageous sunglasses as they come at you from 100 feet away.
So if you want to have a meaningful relationship, don’t “poke.” If you want to be noticed, change your look! You are what you wear.
Madison Moore loves to get his sunglasses on, all night long.