The Case for Discomfort

There is something so commanding about the hard-soled clack of a shoe in the mornings. You tap across the hardwood waking your roommates, neighbors or sleeping partner in a cacophony of self-importance. But hard soled shoes seem to be both a mark of adulthood and a distant memory. In 2020 there are more Allbirds and leggings in the office than suits and heels. In this covid reality, we're both required and relieved to be swaddled in sweats, but there comes a point where wearing amorphous objects can make you feel equivalently formless. 

Image via @maryam_nassir_zadeh

One might argue that when we’re dressed for comfort we’re not dressed for thinking. What we’re wearing signals to our minds whether to upshift or downshift. By design, comfy clothes help us relax and unwind. Without stiff fabrics to make us sit upright, hard soles to protect our feet from the rugged ground, weird buttons or zippers to fidget with, there is a real freedom.  

Image via Oh Seven Days

                  Image c/o @ohsevendays

But former Parson’s dean and Project Runway judge Tim Gunn summed up his contrarian philosophy in a tweet saying, “When it comes to dressing, comfort is overrated. A little discomfort probably means your clothes fit and they're not pajamas.” 

                            A cozy, sustainable suit via @ohsevendays

While this quote comes pre-covid, it isn’t an attempt at comfort shaming. We fully endorse flannels and stretchy pants in all their forms, but Tim’s right. There are some occasions you need to be uncomfortable, you need to sit up, to be alert and engaged. Maybe our society lacks the structure we need right now to stay sane. We need a yang to all this yin, and maybe a pair of very scratchy wool work pants could do the trick. 

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