A little after the middle of the decade, I lived in a room up a ladder with spiky green astroturf for floor (violent and impossible to clean rice out of if you spilled it). My room had no closet or space for furniture (Axel Webber moment ❤), so I had to keep all my clothes on a wobbly rack in the living room, where they would always fall from their hangers like dead leaves. Some I kept hanging from a pipe that crossed my room, which I thought looked pretty.
I had parties a lot and people would often leave behind the layers they shed when they got comfortable. Sweaters, coats, chokers, and tiaras stolen from Claire’s. Later, they would Facebook message me to come collect their losses, if they didn’t, what was left would just end up in a soft nest in my room. I didn’t mind, I came into a favorite sweater that way. One time, a few friends slept over after a party. I wore Old Navy leggings that settled underneath my heels and an Alex G sweatshirt another friend had left in the pile. Eventually, I had to get ready for another party, at the literary frat at Columbia. The theme was cyberpunk and I needed to dress for it because I was someone’s date. One of my friends who had stayed over made me a top out of chain link and O-rings from Home Depot — she took my measurements like one of the ladies dressed in all black at Victoria’s Secret and put everything together with pliers. When she wore her designs to parties, people constantly asked her if they were for sale. But my top was fit with wire that cut into the side of my chest, which was bad for dancing. The rest of my outfit was not cyberpunk — a one-sleeve, black velvet iceskating top with crystals on it and a cream tennis skirt from Banana Republic. Underneath, white tights I’d purchased at Nordstrom Rack in Union Square for a Courtney Love Halloween costume. The skirt and the tights had both absorbed greyish dust from rolling around on rooftops.
2016 was a year of Looks — blended out red eye shadow, y2k before TikTok, clumpy fake furs, BDSM accessories, clothes hoarding, making fun of L-Train Vintage but still going there, Petra Collins jokes, skaters, ironic Limearitas. I still wore my black skinny jeans I got when I was 16, which were not cool. Everyone else was wearing whatever kind of big pants they could get at the thrift store. I felt somewhat relieved when I got my own pair of big pants — old school Boy Scout-issued cargos, even though skinny jeans looked much better on me.
I’d started to hate when people said “It’s a look” about something they or someone else was wearing at a party. I said it too, but I came to understand it as a warning that there’d be micro-split Ubers to an apartment identical to the one we were in and loud conversations about the artistic genius of Carly Rae Jepsen, which was fine, but the best part of the night was the outfits and they usually weren’t even very good.1
Around this time, I started losing all my band shirts. First, a weird Christina Aguilera tour t-shirt I bought the first time I went to Search&Destroy. Then, a yellow Joyce Manor t-shirt with Dragon Ball characters on it that I got at a moshy show in North Carolina. I wore it with my black skinny jeans to go with a friend to a Banana Republic casting in the middle of July. It was so hot that getting to the big elevator building in the Financial District felt like a video game. Both shirts were somewhat kidnapped.
1 Lots of the parties where looks were served, even ones where looks were announced, were a lot of fun. Really! You had to be there.