A friend of mine has more sunglasses than a whole bevy of Hollywood starlets. Another friend of mine made the mistake of popping open her glove box one day as they jelly-rolled down the freeway in her convertible BMW, which is commonly called a ‘bitch basket’ on the Left Coast. When asked why she needed so many pairs of sunglasses, she looked at her interrogator like he’d just announced he was from Mars.
Shaking her head in disapproval, she very patiently explained to him that in addition to the apparent protection factor, sunglasses were a very simple and very reasonably priced method of accessorizing one’s outfit. Sunglasses could, under the right conditions, totally re-invent an individual’s total look.
Sunglasses, she observed, were a fashion statement of tremendous cogency.
Thus sunglasses could represent not only social equality, but also empowerment in a pejorative sense. For example, the term ‘sansculottes’ was used for the clothing adopted by the working class during the French Revolution. And the French Revolution was big on small, almost dowager-like sunglasses. Whereas nowadays, certain marginalized groups, such as the ‘skinheads’ utilize fashion to depict hatred and pseudo-elitism. And remarkably, skinhead attire — skinhead fashion, if you will, closely resembles the gay ‘sexual rebels’ look: shaved heads, old fashioned shirts, suspenders, mirrored tear-drop sunglasses and heavy jackboots. Are skinheads latent homosexuals? Bravura effects, eccentric mannerisms — could be! The previous judgment remains the definitive verdict.
Fashion is a cultural, social construct composed of images. And image is everything, remember? The image represents the interplay between social and economic forces, and artistic and intellectual constraints. Image is the vocabulary of power — and power is but another form of beauty. And fascinatingly, fashion also includes jewelry and accoutrements that evoke the intervention and protection of supernatural powers — the quest for the sacred in life. The quest for God. Christian crosses, magen Dauid (the shield of David), also known as the ‘star of David,’ ankhs, New Age angels, beads, talismans, and good-luck (the word ‘good’ has its provenance in the word ‘god’) charms.
And sunglasses, of course, present the wearer as mysterious, powerful, aloof – almost divine.
Fear of isolation might be said to drive fashion, might it not? Subterranean, fuliginous feelings and beliefs motivate fashion. The ultimate goal of it all is to create a beautiful image. An image beautiful enough so that the bearer might not only begin to love him/herself, but also gain the love and acceptance of others. The assertion of preeminence. Francois La Rochefoucauld said it best: “… the world is made out of appearances.”
Image is everything. And beauty is the image that all desire.
A nice pair of sunglasses enhances the image of beauty.