When I was growing up, I wasn’t allowed to watch The X-Files. My parents claimed it was too scary for my over sensitive baby-child ears, so my first interaction with Mulder and Scully was when they guest-starred on The Simpsons, long after their series premiere.
But even then, Scully’s power wasn’t lost on me.
Dana Scully is a woman of few words. When she speaks, it’s deliberate. What she says is important, and she doesn’t waste time with mindless chit-chat, small talk, or disposable one-liners that serve to break any and/or all tension. She’s sure of who she is (a genius), she follows her ethical compass diligently, and she can stare down an idiot like no other TV character can.
And after watching the new trailer for the upcoming X-Files mini-season, I realized her clothing choices assist in all of this.
As a character who lives by and thrives on scientific and logical methods, Scully’s wardrobe embodies her ethos. She wears blazers, dress shirts, and slacks (not just “pants,” thank you), and while she occasionally throws a skirt or “day off” sweater into the mix, it’s to keep episodes interesting and to serve as part of another story. (Lest we forget the date she blows off in season one.) She rejects superficial trends because her clothing serves a purpose, and while Calvin Klein established the Scully-like minimalistic boss bitch vibe in the early nineties, Scully’s choices were less about fashion than their functionality.
First, because to fit in with the rest of the FBI, Scully needed to look like everybody else. Already she stood out because she was a woman, a doctor, and partners with an agent (Mulder) whose cases routinely caused inter-office chaos. Therefore, she didn’t have the luxury of waltzing in dressed like Cher from Clueless—she had to combat the bureau’s patriarchal hierarchy by proving she deserved to be there for no other reason than her talents. There could be no other distractions. So she donned the uniform.
Second, Dana’s pieces suited her. As a cool, calm, and collected FBI agent, the pieces she wore became her battle armour, enhancing the qualities that made her the character we love so much. Her affinity for black coats or white button-ups reaffirmed her professional nature and the lack of warmth she was renowned for. She wasn’t a maternal figure in the series, and certainly not a character created to play second-fiddle to her male counterpart. She was a Professional™ whose wardrobe didn’t give anything away. She was a walking poker face, just like her outfits.
I’d never been one for “less is more” until binge-watching X-Files over the last few months—especially as I began to understand the importance of Scully’s minimalistic aesthetic. When in doubt, I usually loaded up with either accessories, colours, or even bright lipstick, assuming I could distract my enemies with my penchant for carrying off orange paisley. (Which I can, and can perfectly, thank you very much.) For a long time, I felt that cloaking myself in black and neutrals would seem too grown-up; like I’d given up on trends and focused solely on looking “like a woman” instead of whatever that Britney Spears song is about. But do you know what never crossed Scully’s mind? And of the things I just mentioned here. (And not just because she’s a fictional character.)
Instead, Scully proved tha—bear with me—less can actually be more. She taught me that a muted wardrobe doesn’t mute a person’s personality, abilities, or social presence, and that even the most traditionally professional pieces can become signature if worn by a person who wears them like she means it. Woman, in fact, maketh the clothes. And there’s also something to be said for blending in with a bunch of ant people during the workday, only to show them all up professionally in a blazer that looks cooler than they’ll ever be.
Ultimately, the wearer is enough. And while like Scully, none of us should be dictated by what other people tell us to wear, I really do think we should all be wearing more slacks.
The post Everything I learned about minimalism I learned from Dana Scully appeared first on FASHION Magazine.