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You Are What Your Outfit Says You Are


Cobb remarks on fashion:

T Shirts have been making statements since way back to I'm With Stupid. But before that it was a smiley face or a peace sign. I mean after you burned your draft card or your bra, you had to wear something besides your long hair to signify the seriousness of your rebellion from the standards of beauty and propriety of your racist pig parents, right?

I have long thought that shirts with slogans are mild arrogance. Why would you think I care about your opinion of, well, anything? But I respect the argument that holds such fashion—or almost all intentional fashion—is social signaling.

It’s not about the cause so much as about showing that the wearer cares about something. Or that the wearer has bought—and sometimes even earned—a worldview that is branded with alligators or polo players.

Cobb’s sticking with the “identity defined by what you are not” angle:

I think that most of the juicy delicious reform flavor has been chewed out of the bubblegum of rebellion of the past three generations.

Nice. How about a couple of visuals on that point:

Bill Walton as hippieBlue-haired couple in tie-dye

The only mystery they present is how they have managed to become so causelessly rebellious.


I wish I could pass it off as a phase that all youth in a sufficiently wealthy culture must survive. The alligators are at least subtle.

But maybe comfortable rebellion has to make up for its aimlessness by being perpetuallly strident. If there’s no object for rebellion, one never gets satisfaction and can’t mature out of identity-by-protest.

Old Man in F You T-shirt

On the other hand, maybe I just need a shirt with the right slogan.