Thursday, August 19, 2010

Wardrobe for a different self

I have a pair of Chie Mihara high heels that I bought from Anthropologie that I can't bear to return, even though I haven't worn them yet and don't actually see myself wearing them.  It's like I'm saving them for a future self, or an alternate self that hasn't come into existence yet.  And maybe never will.

I like keeping some things for that reason.  I know, too much of this would result in an impractical wardrobe with little use in my real life.  So I know to avoid most of the accoutrements of the A. Wang, goth-y, downtown girl look that has pervaded fashion and blogs for some time.  While I think the attitude and the clothes are infinitely cool, I know that that girl is something I will never be, so I know not to try to approximate (in fashion lingo, I can't "pull it off").

But I think a little bit, just a dose, of that imaginative possibility taps into the self-inventing part of fashion that appeals to me so much.  Like maybe, this silvery-pink pair of strappy high heels will call into existence the girl I'd like to be.  Or a signature lipstick would help snap me into focus.  Or something like that.*

* (Though again, I have to qualify that and wonder how much of it is the Machine at work.  How much of this difference between real self and idealized self is the production of magazines, and models, and editors, and the whole industry saying that this is what you should be and look like, and here, let me sell you something that would help get you there.)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Three Thoughts

I think it's important to know your own body if you're going to find a minimal wardrobe that fits your personal style.  Those essentials lists that periodically show up--usually with a white button down and black dress at the top of the list--are as misleading and dogmatic as trend predictions are.

When I saw these pics from the Venetia Scott for Margaret Howell F/W 10 collection, I immediately admired the model's sleek equestrian beauty.  I suddenly wanted some demure plaid skirts and drapey button downs for my own closet.  But then I remembered that below-the-knee skirts never work on me.  Or at least, they do not have the same cool, graceful effect as they do on this tall, whippet-thin, doe-eyed girl.

My third thought was that when I see someone who seems to know exactly what works on her body, temperament, and lifestyle--as this look projects--the total effect is mesmerizing.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Modus operandi

Rather than working from a list, I find the most successful purchases are made when I simply give in to some intense, inexplicable desire.  That's how I find the mainstays of my wardrobe, the objects that give me joy to wear.  These I'll end up wearing them again and again.  It's when I try to consciously fill a hole in my wardrobe that I end up getting something that's wrong or uninspired.

So a pink terry cloth jumpsuit is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think of "capsule wardrobe" or "French method" of dressing, but I circled around this item for so long and so often that I knew it might work out.  It's from Wood Wood, a Danish design company that makes clothes with just the right amount of quirky.

I figure if I don't end up liking it when it arrives in the mail from Creatures of Comfort, I'll just wear it around the house.  I like wearing one pieces that I just haul on and forget about.  The boy hates them, though.  :P

Monday, August 2, 2010

Statement of purpose

I'm constantly tickering with this blog because I really don't know yet what I want out of it.  Originally, it was a fashion blog, but I found myself bothered by my contribution to the endless consumption of fashion and trends.  The thing is, I enjoy fashion and clothing and beauty, but the enjoyment of those things too often veers into a mindless cycle of coveting and (over)spending.

My newest idea is that I would like to be a bit more conscious about what I bring into my life, starting with fashion but also branching into my everyday experiences.  I think the blog could help me do that.

I read an article recently in the NYT about women who limit their wardrobe to six items, or who vow not to spend money on new acquisitions for a year.  There's definitely something in the air.  And while I don't want to commit myself to anything so structured as those projects, I would like to use this blog to record my own project of self-discovery.

I'm thinking this blog could record how I relate and respond to fashion. I think about brands and trends, but more as a milieu from which to create a distillation of personal style. My intent is to move closer to the "French method" of shopping: less items, but with more purpose.* The blog will mostly track my progress with that intention. My goal is to have a streamlined wardrobe that perfectly meets my desires for self-expression. As you might imagine, then, this blog will always be a work in progress.

Somehow, I trust that simply by recording observations in my blog, I can get closer to an understanding of how I would like to express myself through my clothes and in my experiences, and how I am to be in the world.

After all, personal style is a rhetoric of its own. The clothes we wear can tell others at a glance what we do, who we are, who we align with, etc. We communicate through our clothes as we do with our words. Our clothes both reveal something about us, but they conceal things as well--literally and figuratively. And clothes contain a history of our different selves (Birkenstocks remind me of college in Austin, always), just like a diary might.

Whoo!  I think I wrote most of this for myself rather than anybody else, but if anyone read this far, I congratulate you.  I think this is just about how far I'll cast my net.  

* Thanks to Dead Fleurette and the TFS thread for the inspiration!

And as a first marker of the old, here's my old statement of purpose for this blog:

I live in the Pacific Northwest. I'm a teacher and a hobbyist. I keep all manner of rodentia.

I think a lot about the inconstancy of memory--how the things that seem indelible eventually fade. So I have started this blog in part as an attempt to pin down some of the ephemera of my daily life.

I used to focus on fashion, but lately I find that I'm often more interested in other things.

There's a little bit of backstory in my now-defunct fashion blog, Destitute Fashion.