It was during my freshman year of college that I found solace in fashion. Even though I drove home almost every weekend, I felt isolated and unhappy. I had no interest in my classes; I had only one friend at school whom I saw infrequently; I had nothing in common with my roommate and so we did not speak. I was still terrified of the city and never explored. It was a lonely time, and when I was not in class or doing homework, I found myself sitting in the café section of Borders poring over fashion magazines.
At Borders (RIP!), I did more than browse; I consumed. I bought dozens of magazines that I lugged back to my dorm room, flicking through them with a hunger for art, color, and excitement. I would spend hours looking at photographs of the runway shows on Style.com, and would feel elated when I recognized those clothes in editorials. Fashion magazines were bibles, gateways to a world in which I desperately wanted to take part. I collected them as tokens of my dedication to fashion. They were a record of my growth, of who I had become and (hopefully) where I was going. For years, I have kept those magazines on bookshelves, on nightstands, in cabinets, in boxes, in closets. But last week, I made a decision. I hauled out all of my magazines and stacked them up—three, maybe four hundred glossies, some that have been with me since high school—and, with my generous mother’s help, I threw them away. Happily.
Goodbye Allure, InStyle, and Glamour. Farewell Vogue, Vanity Fair, and W. So long ELLE, Harper’s Bazaar, and Teen Vogue. Sayonara V, Nylon, and i-D.
This was no Marie Kondo-induced epiphany. I haven’t read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or any other type of home cleaning help book. But hanging onto the past can sometimes hold you back from the future, and part of me felt like the physical weight of those magazines was keeping me from moving on in some way. I’ve known for a long time that I have too much stuff. I’m a hoarder of many things—books, pins, cute ceramic mugs, cat paraphernalia. Some things have an expiration date, and despite the fact that I love printed matter, I knew that these magazines had to go.
Also, at the rate that fashion changes, it’s pointless to keep these trend archives. Would I really go back through them to see what was popular in accessories four years ago? Seasons have passed. I can no longer purchase the clothes adorning those pages (never mind that I couldn’t have afforded them anyway). The articles contain old news. Sure, the trends will come again, but fashion captures the zeitgeist—the spirit of the times—and, as a result, magazines do as well. After a few years (or months), the spirit changes.
And yet I paged through a few of those magazines and, before trashing them, tore out editorials with fashion that still awes me. The zeitgeist of those days may be behind us, but style is an ineffable and timeless thing. I know that when I glue those cutouts into a sketchbook, they’ll reflect less about the times and more about me—my tastes, my growth, my personal sense of style. Because what is fashion, if not a sartorial chronicle of our lives?