The Art of Dressing Backwards




Let’s say that this morning you wake up, brush your teeth, nab a cup of tea, slip on your pants and button up your shirt. You step out of your house, make your way downtown, and suddenly find yourself walking through a crowd of…reversed heads. Disorientated, you turn around only to collide face-first into some strangers. Despite a rather alarming set of expressions, they seem to be a nice sort of couple with everything intact and turned correctly like most couples you know. In fact, you observe, they are really quite normal. So very normal that you almost fail to recognize that every piece of clothing they have on is perfectly coordinated-in reverse.

They look you up and down, and the three of you stare deeply at each others bodies in a way you can only define as very awkwardly. Like most normal people, they looked away, deciding to settle on faces trapped between confusion and not-quite-but-very-much-like that of when smelling expensive, stinky cheese (you know, the kind when you commend something for being pretty cool without really quite knowing why it is).

Suddenly you’re left in the dust as they scurry away whispering ,

“Did you see that weirdo?”

“Who wears their clothes backwards like that?”

“Honey, it’s like what I’ve always sai- ”

“I know I know, you just don’t get kids nowadays.”

“Exactly, and it fits my theory.”

“Oh George, not again with your theories.”

“No no listen. You see, it’s these damn hipste-”

Hipsters be damned. You have to find a bathroom, and quickly, before work starts. You slam the cubicle door and jam the locks. Off goes your shirt, off goes your pants, and then for good measure, you take off your socks too. You redress yourself, this time making sure that everything is correctly backwards.

Soon, you are out the door, looking only slightly undone but very very normal. You check that you have five minutes to get to work, so you slip into the rush of heads quietly, as if nothing had changed at all.

Perception is a powerful thing. Whether it be the tricks of optical illusions, the way we distinguish gender, or why our nation finds the Trump campaign sooooo entertaining…what we choose to believe is real defines what real is.

Michelangelo had  trouble figuring up from down after months of working on the Sistine with his head craned all the way back. The dramatic change in surroundings (along with a nasty crick in the neck) shifted his perception of normal. A few months painting the ceiling turned his idea of up vs down into one of down vs up.

So do you see a vase or a human profile? Is the dress black and blue or white and gold? If I hold up a shirt without tags, zippers and buttons, which side would you point out as the front? The bottom line is, when you approach a familiar object with all preconceptions erased, it may be surprising how many of its different identities you can discover.


Looking for Answers- why you should try dressing backwards

In a way, it is to be unique. It is also a chance to be challenge your creativity. I encourage you to see how you can utilize a single thing for multiple purposes. That way you need less, but still have the ability to create just as many possibilities.

In my capsule wardrobe post, I advocated a simpler lifestyle. Specifically, you can live more simply by changing how you approach your personal wardrobe. It is no secret that what you wear daily can become a constant reminder of who you are (ie. who you want to be and your flaws too). Just by focusing on how you dress, you have control over a small segment of your life which can serve as a stepping stone to many more.

In my capsule wardrobe, I have three dresses total. In order to get the most out of what I have, I wear some dresses backwards. The result is more or less five different dresses with a diverse set of abilities from formal to casual.

In Subtle Lines and Hidden Seams

How to wear things backwards without people knowing.

The secret is, for most things, no one can tell. Not even you.

If I took the tag and zipper off of this dress:

lbd back 2

there is a high chance that you may put it on backwards, inside-out or upside down and still end up looking very good. In fact, you would look perfectly unique which is even better. The trick is just making people see what you saw.

The Basic Silhouette:

A dress with a simple silhouette will translate pretty similarly when worn backwards. Same with  simple shirts and sweaters. For these kinds of clothing, look for a varied neckline. Usually a high back and deep-v in front can be worn as a deep back and high neck.  A sweater looks interesting like this with all the buttons buttoned up:

         49e65d801a91c6f08a0f34ba10a7e0c3  b5cd595875f446ca4b93a8c257667027         sweater back


The fit 

When a shirt’s fit changes significantly after turning it around, use methods to nip and tuck it into place. Tie the fabric, tuck it in, loosen it up, secure it with belt, sag it with a pair of loosened suspenders, and sew it if it comes down to it.

A loose, open back on a button up shirt can be remedied with a loose knot. white back 2

If it is too tight in the front, let loose in the back by opening it up either from the bottom or top.

button down back

The details

If you want to be subtle, then hide pockets and buttons with scarves and jackets. If you want to make a statement then let the print in the front party in the back.

Sometimes, the back is more beautiful as the front:

front back

and vice versa:

back blue



Be creative with what you have.

A simple necklace worn backwards.

necklace back




2 thoughts on “The Art of Dressing Backwards

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