About the Archivist Culture Politics

Living in Velvet

Velvet, sex scandals, and the threat of nuclear war...2018 is weird.

A few weeks ago, I spent an afternoon at the mall browsing with my family, when I saw a pair of men’s velvet dress shoes. Pointing them out to my dad I asked, “Would you wear those?”

My father took one look at them and said, “No thanks. The 70s were fun but I’m not going back.”

But these days, it does feel like we are going backwards.

January always brings the classic, “This is my year.” But what if it’s not? What happens when the first few weeks of the year only bring drama, confusion, anger, and pain?

Somehow, the magic of a new year faded in only a few days.

I recently realized that we’re living in a strange amalgamation of the 60s and 90s. Velvet is back, Living Single is on Hulu, and Cardi B and Bruno Mars broke the internet with a 90s retro music video.

At the same time, the president is caught up in a sex scandal, civil rights for POC are in jeopardy, and the threat of nuclear war lingers in the air…2018 is weird.

Barely twenty days into the year the government is shut down, every immigrant and first generation American are mad as hell, and the polarization of our society is only getting worse…2018 is exhausting.

I personally have spent the first few weeks of the year fighting off a lingering cold, trying to figure out how all these student loans are gonna get paid off, and been witness to a dramatic few days at the office. So far, 2018 has also been overwhelming.

So what do you do when progress has not only stopped but seems like it’s being undone? When everything seems to literally be falling apart? When the person you sit next to at work suddenly no longer has a job and you can’t help but wonder, “Am I next?”

What did I do?

I complained, ranted, and vented to my closest friends and family.

Then I bought a bunch of velvet. Velvet shoes, clothes…I went all out.

Trying to ignore the things going on around us only works for so long. It is important to acknowledge them through tears, laughter, or yelling, and sometimes all three. Talk it out with those closest to you. Accept the things you cannot change and make a plan to change the things you can (…wisdom to know the difference is also helpful). It’s the only way to survive this roller coaster that is 2018 and find peace in the middle of the stomach churning drops.

Then, treat yourself to some velvet.

Velvet has been around for thousands of years but for a long time it was difficult to make, super expensive, and reserved for certain (rich) people. Fast forward to the Industrial Revolution, the fabric became easier to produce and more accessible. In the 1920s, velvet was a sign of glamour, it totally fit in with the chic vibe of the 70s, and the 90s brought us our favorite- crushed velvet.

Now in 2018, velvet gives us glimpses of the past but has a 21st century twist. It can be comfortable, soft, sexy, or all of the above- my new velvet combat boots are a great example. A sign of privilege, glamour, the past, future, and even challenges to overcome- like how I’m gonna keep those boots clean.

For me, that pretty much sums up what has been and will probably continue to be 2018.

My birthday is coming up and I plan to rock my new boots that weekend. But because they are velvet, I know I can’t wear them all willy nilly. I’ll also have to take care of them.

Making the time to give attention to delicate and vulnerable parts of life can be annoying but doing so is always worth it. Just like I want my boots to last a long time, I want my wellbeing and happiness to last even longer, so I’m willing to put in the extra work.

There will be times this year where comfort and style are what’s wanted but the environment calls for or even demands that complacency is challenged. We will have to awkwardly stand out and speak our truth.

And yes, there may be moments in 2018 that are absolutely crushing. Moments that will make us wonder if things will ever be normal again. But never forget, the 90s taught us that crushed velvet is beautiful too.

2 comments on “Living in Velvet

  1. Yo! this was so on point. I love that last line “But never forget, the 90s taught us that crushed velvet is beautiful too.” You have already summed up my feelings for the year and its only what, 22 days in? I love reading and will comment more!

    Like

  2. Diane Blake

    Excellent Observations!

    Liked by 1 person

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