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What Would You Wear To Get A Date?
New "meet-me" clothing questions the lengths we'll go to find someone.
BY KATE HAKALA
As Stacy and Clinton and countless New York Times pieces have been telling us for years, when we’re wearing something, we’re sending out social signals. This insane new Kickstarter campaign called Gutzy hopes to bank on that. Gutzy touts itself as the world’s first clothing line empowering singles by labeling them, though it appears to just be a line of active wear with a tacky logo and silkscreened “Connection Code” on the rear. That code is something you read off someone’s back while ducking behind a large potted plant to save for a sketchy email later that night. Emails like, "Yes, hello #1544, I saw that you were single. I like the shape of the back of your head." This could be a more direct and effective alternative to failed encounters like Missed Connections, or it could be another road block on the way to the inevitable: it doesn't matter what we're wearing, we're just going to meet online.
Meet-me clothing that quite literally screams, “I’m single, I’m available, and I’m approachable,” gets rid of that whole, “Do I have permission to approach this hot stranger?” question. It also addresses the problems we have with stepping away from the safety of our omniscient computers. The prevalence of 40 million people online dating has made us accustomed to a serving of one person with a side of avatar, age, location, and relationship status. There is no guess-work online, because what we can’t surmise, we Google. What Gutzy is attempting to do is take the part that works from online dating, like our access to personal information, and streamline that with the remaining great parts of real-life interactions, immediacy and accurate physical assessments. This isn’t the first of the best-of-both-worlds mergers: we’ve been handed portable stereos, smartphones, accompanying apps, and now, Google Glass, a computer within life, to name but a few.
But status-broadcasting designs like Gutzy miss something important in their quasi-Matrix-y attempt to integrate our avatars into our life, and that’s the likelihood of participants who will want to wear the distinctive clothing. If the only way to show the world that you’re single is by looking like you’re a Lululemon ambassador, then this isn’t going to ever become commonplace.
Though, in other arenas, wardrobe signifiers have caught on. Married people have been conspicuously presenting their relationship status since ancient times with wedding rings. Is there a middle ground between a Tindr or a Grindr and a pair of Gutzy track pants for singles? It's certainly not knowing glances or trite t-shirts. Gay men have found a way to sartorially demonstrate their needs, wants, and availability with a color-coded handkerchief system. Some women have designated their tall stilettos as suggestive “Come Fuck Me” heels. Clothing has been and always will be a salient way to illustrate our sexuality, openness, and singleness.
However, a universal meet-me clothing beyond a little black dress seems a little far-fetched right now, because we aren’t used to having our widely available online personas out in the tangible realm for all to see. We’ve embedded that smartphone persona so deep into our physical world, that movements against our submerged approach to dating seem marginal. But who knows, in three decades, this may not seem that ridiculous.