Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Style consultants

Scribbling down my thoughts about potential purchases proved surprisingly useful, though I had made it so complicated by the end that I needed the clarity of a disinterested male spectator (aka my boyfriend) to sort it out.

I solicited his comments when I was recently deciding on my 4-5 pieces, post sale season. They're representative of the kind of comments he gives when asked. They usually jostle small doubts that I tend to ignore in the thrill of an acquisition, and I find them pretty helpful.
  • "A little drab." -- The dress was a bit Amish, it's true. I had written that I wasn't sure about the pattern.
  • " Doesn't look comfortable." -- My notes were that I was ambivalent about the shirt's texture and it was tighter than what I wanted. Good to be confirmed, since I was so happy about finding an item on my list I was inclined to ignore my misgivings.
  • "I don't know where to focus." -- This I had to pursue further. He meant that the stripes were overwhelming. Yes, I had to admit it. I am just a little mouse who likes to wear a coat of grey.
  • "Super cute." -- He's usually unable to refine this statement further, even with my questioning.
I think it's helpful to have an objective view outside the obsessive fashion milieu, whether it be an amused boyfriend or a page from a journal. But, according to Genevieve Antoine-Dariaux in A Guide to Elegance, you shouldn't consult your female friends as they are invested parties (read: competition . . . or perhaps fellow enablers?) and will give poor advice. I think she gives rather sage advice.

I'm a little bit embarrassed to reveal my notes, as they seem rather self-involved and shallow, but I've been thinking it would be nice to find a bit more reality in the blogging world. As anyone who has attempted it knows, looking effortless is anything but.


  1. Haha, this is genius. I'm going to NYC with someone in september, and I kind of cannot wait till going shopping and bringing him so he can give me his honest opinions.
    Sometimes when I consult a female friend of mine, my decision is based on the opposite. Like, my friend said "no you shouldn't get those IM boots, they are boring, not pretty and definitely not worth the expense at all" – and tada, I'm constantly falling back in love with those boots.

  2. I really think that this is a good idea - because you're looking at each item subjectively so that you can make sure that you make the right purchases rather than buying something that you aren't 100% happy with

  3. I am still wrangling with this concept, being something of a novice to it: however, since my eyes were opened to my habits and choices, I am finding it difficult to turn back. I am currently in the process of offloading so much superfluous fluff, and feel ever so slightly stunned. There are so few words to express it, unless you 'get it', it is something of an epiphany - and since my own, I am struggling to free myself of the shackles of my past consumption (and our culture's preoccupation with the same), which has begun to remind me of the Emperors New Clothes. (aka trends in general).

    My future lists are still gestating, so to speak, which is very fitting, haha!

    I also agree with regards to recruiting a somewhat disinterested (possibly male) point of view. I am quite newly single, so my ex might cause too much complexity, and sadly my real life female friends are almost passionate in their refusal to care for fashion/personal style, even in terms of disagreeing with it.

    And there is nothing really frivolous or shallow about the subject, for it sparks the minds of so many. I am surprised that this image has not been shaken off yet, the idea that writing or musing over our clothing choices is somehow a symptom of vanity, or at least something negative.

    Please forgive any typos, i am extremely sleepy!

  4. Fleurette A trip to New York with a mystery man. That sounds so exciting! And I've found that I can't really shop with anyone besides maybe boyfriends, who are useful for holding onto things I want to try on. I find that my female friends are rather conservative and uninterested in fashion. A former friend also used to indulge in rather cutting remarks as well.

    jamie-lee The real test will come in a few months, when I see how much use I really got out of the clothes.

    arts and ghosts It really is a shift in thinking when you decide to buy items for its closeness to some ideal rather than for the temporary fulfillment of some fleeting emotion. I know what you mean by the ENC. I think it helps to be a bit older (I'm 30-something like you) because you can see the long view--the experimentation, the waste, etc.

    I don't think fashion is shallow at all, but I know that's the general consensus. In academia, it has been seen as more intellectual to be anti-fashion, although I think that's changing. Really, the idea of fashion as shallow derives from misogyny, clear and simple. If you're interested in this idea, you might enjoy reading the book The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant. It's a collection of essays.

  5. I'm definitely open to more reading, so thanks for the recommendation.
    And only last week I was having a conversation with a male friend who has a passion for sports cars (I do not:), in which I mentioned that there is still a certain prestige to this, unlike girls loving fashion, beauty, etc. I wonder if it has more to do with women having been overly encouraged to entertain *only* thoughts of fashion and beauty historically...I recall, when I studied my photo diploma many years ago, one of our older tutors once smiled at me in a sweet way and said "Louise, have you ever considered you might be better suited in front of the lens instead of behind it?" I was really shocked at the time, but it still hi-lights the issue for me, and i was by no means fashion model material at 5"4 aged 25!

  6. This is actually a really good idea, getting outside help from someone who isn't in your mind/a similar mindset. It doesn't seem shallow or self-involved. Like you said, looking effortless is anything but.

  7. I like the brevity of his comments - for a chronic over-thinkers like myself, sometimes a well-phrased, succinct comment at a right time just feels like a lifeline. I thoroughly enjoy shopping with guys, because we usually like the same stuff, haha.

    I also love shopping with my sisters - I think it's a lifelong by-product of borrowing clothes and style influences off each other. In any case I trust them since they are brutally honest and they also have my fiscal health at heart.

    And agree, there is no such thing as effortless style (even if the aim is to look it). To do anything well requires effort.

  8. Austere It seems to provide a little objectivity. I'm glad that it doesn't seem self-involved!

    lin You're so lucky that you can shop with your sisters. I'd love to be able to get opinions from people who know me so well and whose opinion I trusted. And his comments are quite brief, even gnomic, but that's good because I'm counting on him not to overthink things, unlike me.