O N E W H O D R E S S E S
Fashion — /ˈfaSHən/ n. the exploration of self
If you've ever spent time questioning your relationship with fashion, you've landed in just the right place. Welcome! The internet is big. I'm so very glad you're here.
One Who Dresses is a unique fashion website for discerning women. It examines fashion from a steadfastly curious, respectful and compassionate place. It seeks to understand the rich and multifaceted truths underlying why we get dressed, far deeper than what is seen on the surface, far beyond the clothes on our back.
You are One Who Dresses if you connect with fashion emotionally—it excites, inspires, transports, and delights you—and it challenges you intellectually. You are on a journey to discover who you are in your clothes; this space exists to support that process.
One Who Dresses is a living and breathing exploration of fashion seen through my eyes. So you should know a bit about me.
I am fascinated by the power of dress. When I wear something amazing, everything changes. I stand taller, I feel better, I think differently. I come more deeply into who I am. For this reason, I've always known there was something meaningful about fashion and the role it plays in my life. But there was also something that always troubled me about fashion. And so, from my earliest interactions with fashion as a teenager, and into my adulthood, I have struggled to reconcile what I love about fashion with what makes me uncomfortable, like fashion's consumerist nature, and normative beauty standards, its superficiality, the speed at which it moves, and the fact that we're constantly being told we need to have a certain thing we don't have, to be a certain way we're not, in order to be fashionable. Many moons later, I have come to understand that none of this is true. I now know that fashion is more beautiful and profound and important than any of that. So, how did I get here?
I've always looked for ways to unify disparate worlds. I grew up in a quiet New England town, but spent my summers in bustling Cairo. As a young child, I had to find a way to wrap my head around these two places being parts of the same whole. Years later, I was a PhD student studying social determinants of health and devoting myself to reducing the world's inequalities in some way, while nurturing an abiding love for clothes. Clothes are often made by people in developing countries, in circumstances that widen inequality and contribute to injustice. I worried about the hypocrisy of this endlessly. How could I possibly hold both?
Trying to understand my motivations, working to get to a place where I felt whole, gave rise to a radical shift in my life. I dropped out of my PhD program, one I had strived towards for years, and decided to start living authentically. I spent the next year traveling back and forth to Cairo working on my first foray into sustainable fashion: a social enterprise to connect Egyptian artisans to the global marketplace for luxury jewelry. After countless hours recruiting artisans, and over hundreds of cups of tea, I learned how dramatically globalization had changed life for these artisans, and how difficult it had become for them to sustain any real livelihood working in the slow and deliberate way I was asking of them.
The artisinal project didn't take off (maybe one day) but I learned some of the most invaluable lessons of my life, and a lot of them involved questions of consumption. I had seen firsthand how consumption is reshaping individuals and communities and societies and the world. After grieving those changes, I awoke to a new perspective. If consumption can so significantly shape humanity, then consumption is powerful. If I consume, I have power. If I consume consciously, if I opt not to consume, I take my power, and instead of using it to hold up the status quo, I use it to change, well, everything. And so, my deepest challenges had quietly been paving the way for a more rewarding role than I could have ever dreamed of: working to bring about a more thoughtful conceptualization of fashion in modern society.
Prior to fashion, I worked as a health policy researcher on a range of projects, interned at the World Health Organization, and co-founded an incubator to support Egyptian social entrepreneurs post-Arab Spring. I have witnessed the depths of human suffering, and the expanse of our hope. I've consistently come back to living well, with intention and with joy, as a way of honoring these experiences.
I started One Who Dresses in September 2016, and it is still very much a work in progress. There's plenty I'm figuring out, but some things are clear. Getting dressed is an art form. Fashion is intensely personal; no one should (or could) define it for each of us. It's ok to have contradictions when it comes to fashion, or anything else for that matter. Labels don't mean anything if they don't represent better quality. Dressing authentically is a lifelong pursuit, and one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Pursuing and appreciating beauty, which is subjective, enriches the experience of living. Silk is blissful. Objects matter. Clothes matter. Fashion matters.
I feel like we just went out to dinner, and I did all the talking. Your turn. Please say hello. I'd love to hear from you.