How Facebook Is Killing Fashion

You've worn that dress in how many tagged photos?

When it comes to Facebook, there are many opportunities to scroll back through your profile and feel regret. I think we could fill no less than 17 more posts detailing these various regrets, ranging from things like egregious spelling errors and drunkenly posted comments (and maybe even inappropriate friend requests) to very unfortunate photographs that kept you from getting that new job and some inane wall posting from your mother who still doesn’t understand, after hours of tutorials, that unlike email, everyone can see it.

There is one particular thing, though, that after a few years on the FB, I have come to really resent: the ruination of my wardrobe via hundreds of tagged photos.

It used to be that all a girl had to think about (and yes, of course—the guys who care about such things) when getting dressed for an occasion was whether or not the people she was going to be with had a) seen her in a particular outfit ever, or b) at the very least, had seen her in a particular outfit recently. This is  truer for events like weddings and parties, as opposed to casual, everyday gatherings—but what we’re talking about here are the occasions when someone might be snapping pictures. And then posting them on Facebook. And then tagging you for the world—all of your various, unrelated worlds—to see.

Pre-Facebook, it wouldn’t matter if you wore a dress to the wedding of your college roommate one month, and then wore it again the next month to your high school reunion, where not a single guest from either event would overlap. But you’re friends with them all on Facebook, right? Well, then, you can pretty much guarantee that they’ll all see it–with different hair and jewelry and photo companions, perhaps—but that there you will be, clearly wearing the same thing two times in a row, leaving people to wonder either about just how good you think you look in that, or, at the very least, your dry cleaning habits.

Think I’m nuts? The other week, I was babbling about this phenomenon to a colleague, who was keeping one ear on me and both eyes on her computer screen as I wondered if I should retire a certain dress for a while. I had worn it, after all, to a charity event with my father in 2010, a wedding this past summer, and then a rehearsal dinner this fall—all with different crowds, but again, each event was captured in photos for all to see on Facebook. Just as I was about to tell her that I had decided I was being silly and that of course I wouldn’t retire a dress I liked and had paid good money for just because it was in a bunch of photos, she cut me off. “Oh, that nude one?” she asked before clapping a hand over her mouth, realizing that she had just fully confirmed the thing I was semi-successfully talking myself out of. (Dear nude dress: I promise, it’ll just be a break, not a break up. I still love you.)

And the other night, I was at a bar when someone complemented my friend on a very pretty picture of her they had seen on her Facebook page. She thanked them, but after they walked away, said to me, “Yeah, it’s great, it’s like the 800th picture of me tagged in that damn pink shirt.” She, too, was sad to decide that it might need a rest for a little while. (And actually, in the name of full disclosure? It’s the same shirt I happen to be wearing in this post’s accompanying headshot, as she and I both purchased it from a boutique formerly owned by another of our friends. She’s right. It is kind of distinctive. Crap.)

Other friends, too, have confessed that they have put things back into their closet after pulling them out, deciding not to wear them after realizing the frequency with which said things had appeared on their Facebook walls. I guess we can just file it under another way that Facebook has, probably permanently, changed our lives: Potential employers can see just what kind of person they’re considering putting on their payroll, mothers can see just what kind of child they’ve raised, and friends of friends of friends can see the blue, low-cut tank you inevitably bust out when you want to look extra hot.

Ah well. It never hurts to have another reason to go shopping.