Every morning when I log on to trawl the internet for blogs and other sundry items, I find myself distracted so often by Who What Wear, a website whose purpose I have yet to figure out, and will likely die trying.
My knowledge of Who What Wear outside of its listicles are that it is a clothing brand, sold at Target, whose offerings are chic, watered-down versions of what one might find on a runway, and are priced just north of the amount I want to spend on a dress from Target. The content on the website does not quite match with its sartorial offerings, but my reluctant love for it remains the same.
Who What Wear’s primary content is comprised of listicles that drive its readers to buy clothing, packaged in a way so alluring and organic that to call it clickbait somehow feels like doing it a disservice, even though that is decidedly what it is. Even though I have dressed myself with relative success for the better part of my adult life, there’s always room for improvement. Who What Wear’s listicles offer some form of that improvement I seek, by neatly compartmentalizing desires I didn’t know I had into easy-to-read, shoppable lists that, for a brief moment, inspire me to think that I, too, could explore “7 chic outfits” even though I wear a t-shirt and shorts on the daily. An article that reads “Sorry, But Basic Leggings Don’t Stand a Chance Against These 5 New Trends” compels me to click, hoping to actually find something to replace the leggings, only to be presented with five different kinds of leggings, but nothing new. “I Refuse to Wear Anything But These 8 Pieces When It’s Over 90 Degrees” contains nothing quite revolutionary—cotton dresses for summer, how original—but as a woman who overheats with alarming regularity, the hope is always that there will be a piece I had not yet considered.
The listicles offer some vague promise of self-improvement, like my life will dramatically change if and only if I read about the 36 cheap Amazon pieces that I should make room for in my closet or the six ways I can style summer’s best dress trend. My brain logically understands that the larger issues in my life will not be solved with a clutch of white tank tops selected by the diligent editors of Who What Wear, but the promise that it could is enough to keep me coming back for more.
Capital drives Who What Wear’s editorial direction, as each article is actually just a list of things to possibly buy, but nothing about that is bothersome. What’s nice, for now, is that reading the site religiously feels a little bit like what shopping in a store used to feel like. Long gone are the days where I could just walk into the air-conditioned comfort of a big H&M and touch sundresses with impunity, with an iced tea in hand; shopping in the middle of a global pandemic is not a leisure activity. But my process of sifting through the 10 open tabs of Who What Wear’s offerings, then opening and closing the other tabs of recommended tank tops, dresses, and athleisure is the closest thing to shopping as it was in the olden days. The internet is a piss-poor imitation of real life, as Zoom birthday parties and FaceTime have proven, but we’re all simply taking what we can get.