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In one of my earliest HR posts (now located here, and possibly not for long—the S*bst*ck lobby really did a number on my idealistic visions of a standalone blog, and it just became a money-suck), I extolled the virtues of clothes that f u n c t i o n in ways such as “insulating, shading, heating, cooling, protecting, storing, organizing, compartmentalizing, cushioning, shielding, informing, warning, entertaining, weaponizing, augmenting range or power of motion, and conversation-starting.”
Ok, one could argue that ALL clothes do one or more of the above, and maybe something “conversation-starting” is literally the diametric, polar opposite to something utilitarian. But this is my blog and my brain, fools.
Now that I have a puppy from the streets of Buenos Aires (una cachorrita porteña):
I have had 100% less time to traipse around in cute lil outfits and 100% more pee and slobber in my general vicinity, so dressing in a utilitarian way has become less of a glam theoretical exercise and more of a harm reduction technique. Here is a vision board, with commentary, of dream utility looks/pieces (you really don’t need to see the actual fits I’ve stumbled my way into, crusty-eyed, in the past few weeks, since becoming a mapa [yes, I saw that one comedian on TikTok use “mapa” as a joke in a skit about Brooklyn granola parents and now I can’t stop thinking about it—it’s long disappeared into the bowels of my feed, sorry]) and suggestions of pieces that will give you the most mileage per dollar when it comes to the verb list above (and beyond… like, maybe too far beyond to justify this post’s title. Oh well!).
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Note: I may make a commission if you purchase items using some of the links below, which costs you nothing and might actually save you a few bucks in some cases, so thanks if you do, and please let me know what you copped!
Disseminating talismans in the midst of a thick chain of keys and other necessities is key to utility in both the profane and sacred spheres.
They exploded these for no reason. I would have worn them.
Boxy, boxy shorts + loafers or loafer heels + white tee + dark collared shirt + simple pendant + flat cap is the coolest kid in the sandlot’s uniform.
Pieces like this will only get better with age due to their irregularities and complexity, and vests are surprisingly useful in weird weather.
Puffy = warm and also if you fall you won’t skin a knee.
Ok maybe the boots aren’t exactly UTILITARIAN but the white tights + knee-length kilt and embroidered sweater set + bucket hat-on-a-string are compelling for late winter and undeniably adorable.
Selvedge denim is another thing that ages extremely well, I LOVE the long-sleeved button down under tee under vest conceit, and the safety pins on the pant cuffs on the right are a stroke of genius storage-wise.
I know that’s not a pee-flap, but we should bring those back.
Perfect for when you need a nice shirt but are about to bake a pie or throw a pot (looking at you, Vivian) and don’t want to have to get your sleeves all wrinkly rolling ‘em up.
Poncho over leather trench! Brilliant.
I’d never thought about a blazer-tee monochrome combo, but with the head scarf, it’s… and I don’t use this word lightly or with joy… chic.
I HATED the Ganni x Barbour collab when I first saw it, my lovely editor at Magasin had to tone down my disdain, whoops, but Betty makes it work and somehow also masters the overstuffed tote bag. Is it the embroidery/embellishments/what have you on the skirt? Is it the zebra shoes? Is it the Scandinavian je ne sais quoi?
That earring. That harness. THE EYELETED JACKIE BAG . Imagine looping ribbons through those holes and dangling good-luck charms from them all…
Real tabis, loose overalls, chill stripes.
Goth Heathers. Funereal bows. Drop-waist skirts. Huge pockets.
Brilliant, with good air flow and a top that will never look stained—importantly, only buttoned thrice.
OK, so the things I’m noticing most often are: puffiness/volume, technical fabrics, chains/charms, dark or grimy-toned colors, complex patterns and textures, as many pockets, zippers, and loops as humanly possible, and a sense of humor. Here are some recs based on that:
These can be unzipped to create a more skirt-like effect, show a lil leg!
I NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU WOULD PUT IN THE SMALLEST POCKETS PLEASE DM ME.
Ok I may have jumped the shark here, but I feel like a vintage baby blanket would do the trick just as well.
I KNOW, I KNOW, but think: you smack this guy onto your neck and suddenly, you have an öûtfįt!
This is an AMAZING deal for a company whose products I’ve found to be consistently well-made and wear in perfectly.
No more crotch sweat!
I LOVE this acerbic color.
Bedtime pockets for your candle and candle holder and candle snuffer and matches!
MORE POCKETS, GOD YES!
Ok, so maybe this ended up not playing out as “utility”—focused as I thought it would. No matter. I hope you had as much fun as I did, and as ever, I’ll see you around.