‘Worn Stories’ looks at the many tales behind articles of clothing, as real people relate what makes them meaningful. The docuseries is adapted from Emily Spivack’s New York Times best-selling book.
‘Worn Stories’ takes something of a plot twist for its first episode as it opens on a group of nudists. After all, I assumed this show was about clothes, not lack thereof. The episode focusses on how clothes (or their absence) create a sense of community. The nudists’ colony discuss prejudice, the different spectrums of their lifestyle, and the one article of clothing they can’t abandon, for practical reasons: shoes.
Other individuals talk about how items of clothing, such as a pair of high heels, a yellow jumper, a codpiece, or a college shirt, transformed their identities and lives, inspiring them down a career path or life trajectory. It’s all very feel good and upbeat in tone, examining a breadth of culture but always returning to the humanity that unites all.
There’s a story about a young woman who loses her one-of-a-kind coat on a night out on the town; and she and her friend go in an epic journey in search of it. That’s just one story related over the course of the series. More poignant ones include a woman who has her murdered son displayed on a t-shirt. We also follow two prisoners for whom clothes represent getting back their lives.
Clothes are used as rebellion, expression, and more. One episode looks at young people and another looks at the importance of uniforms. Regarding the latter, uniforms function for their wearers as armour and a display of authority, as well as identity, transforming how they relate to people and how people relate to them. A crossing guard who applied to be a police officer over a dozen years relates her inspiring story. Elsewhere, an art gallery security guard talks about developing her own artistic expression.
It’s all very sweet and nice. At times, admittedly, it can start to feel repetitive. But it’s worth pushing through for another rousing story (brought to life via 2D animation, puppets or Claymation) will always come up. There's a Vegas episode, a woman who uses her cowboy hats politically, and a dog story that will have you reaching for the tissues.
The eight episodes are both distinctive and well-organised to keep you invested. They really look at clothes from every possible angle, but what gives such articles warmth and inspiration are the people wearing them.
‘Worn Stories’ is streaming on Netflix from Thursday, April 1st.