Role Models: Unfashion Show Promotes Personal Style

Fashion is superficial.

What you wear doesn’t mean anything.

Negative assumptions about fashion were challenged Sunday by an inclusive group of ladies, one stroll down the purple runway at a time.

The first ever Unfashion Show was hosted by BookWoman in north Austin. It wasn’t a showcase of unfashionable things, as the name might suggest, but rather a celebration of wearing whatever the hell you want. It was the fashion equivalent of an open mic, encouraging anyone who wanted to share her style to simply walk the runway and then explain to the audience why she chose her outfit or what it says about her. The event was created by the New Moon Girls national magazine and online community. The magazine is all about promoting creativity and self-esteem (no relation to the arguable threat to strong young women that is the “Twilight” series).

“There’s too much pressure to wear the ‘right’ clothes,” said Helen Cordes, the editor of New Moon Girls. She modeled her favorite outfit: flip-flops and a comfortable  dress made from olive-printed fabric she got in Madrid.

“Sometimes what we wear ends up not expressing who we really are,” Cordes lamented.

The gathering of women squeezed into a room amongst gay pride nick-knacks and feminist literature proved why that wasn’t the case for them.

The ensembles were as diverse as the crowd. Participants varied in age, race, and taste. Elementary school girls nervously shuffled in rhinestones and faux snakeskin pants. Mothers strolled between the rows of metal folding chairs and praised the convenience of pockets and slip-on shoes.  An elderly woman was pushed along the catwalk in a wheelchair by her daughter, who publicly thanked her for arguing at a 1960s PTA meeting that girls should be allowed to wear their tight jeans and miniskirts to school.

The show eventually turned into a discussion. Young girls talked about their required school uniforms. Older women shared stories from when they weren’t allowed to wear pants and were later discouraged from wearing them in the business world if they wanted to get ahead. A girl who recently returned from a Peace Corps assignment in Guatemala told us  about the long skirts necessary there.

“My fashion statement is more of a political  statement,” the owner of BookWoman said. Susan took to the runway in a baseball uniform to remind us of what Title IX did for girls’ athletics this month in 1972.

The Unfashion Show was not about looking trendy, but I snapped a few photos of girls whose self-expression happened to be pretty hip.

Abby Adamo’s whole outfit looked cool and easygoing.

Zoe Cordes Selbin wore a shirt signed by her favorite musician and a very seasonable floral skirt. She recommended the blog Austin is Burning to me.

Jesse Cordes Selbin modeled a dress that reminds her of when she wore it in Paris. Love her glasses and asymmetrical necklace!

The clothes make the man, they say.

I don’t know if that’s true, but I know these women make the statements.

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