You are a green shirt. On your front is a nice white dinosaur and on your back is the word “VOLUNTEER.” You love to be worn, to get out of that stuffy dresser drawer and see the world. But you are trapped in the darkness, buried beneath six other shirts that are all worn more than you, especially that red shirt with the creative Capitalism logo. That shirt is worn two or three times a week…
To avoid any hurt shirt feelings, I rotate all of my clothing, including socks, boxers, and pajama pants. I wear a t-shirt every single day, which inevitably goes well with my blue jeans and running shoes. My wardrobe requires no thought, my clothes are all treated fairly, and I look pretty good (if I say so myself).
Recently I began to appreciate the complexity of wearing clothes. Canadian photographer Hana Pesut created a series of images in which couples are photographed in their clothing and then again after they switch outfits. Here is the link. The series is called “Switcharoo” and it asks questions about gender norms. As you scroll through the images ask yourself what we collectively think looks good and what doesn’t. Here is the link again in case you missed it the first time.
I feel dizzy when I browse through these images. Perhaps it is because the only changing thing is the human under the clothes that my eyes struggle to reorient themselves between frames. Some trends I noticed were the prominence of skirts and dresses among women and of pants and shorts among men. Overall, the women show more skin than the men. While these are not earth-shattering observations, the Switcharoo in each pairing does a great job pointing to some of the codes that govern what we can wear.
I’ve been wearing t-shirts and pants for as long as I can remember. Perhaps the shirt rotation is my way of institutionalizing what is expected of me, in which case the shirt rotation is the exact opposite of the Switcharoo. Maybe we’re all bound by some rotation of acceptable clothing. And we don’t realize what freedom (and lack thereof) we have to wear what we want until we switch things up.