Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Dressing Up

The pages of fashion magazines are constantly urging us to mix high with low, old with new, casual with dressy, because, while once fashion was about wearing things that went and looked good together, it is now and seemingly always will be about everything going all the time. It's a free for all, it is meaningless, and it's why Alexa Chung is considered fashionable.

First she is wearing a wool jacket, tights, biker shorts or something, and a straw bag. Hey, straw and wool don't go together. One is summer, the other winter. They look awkward, right? But, no, they are quirky, it turns out. Especially if Karl gave you the bag. Or maybe you are just hanging out, wearing the worst, boxiest cut-off overall 90's dress ever, should you pair black patent low-heeled pumps with it?

First of all, the constant refrain of high/low is stupid, because no one has much high to begin with. There was an article awhile back from Bazarre that introduced the chic/totally recession-proof idea of cost per wear, noting that all the designer-clad young ladies were doing it- wearing things more than once! One lady bought a $6,000 gold bolero but she makes it work because she wears it with jeans, too! It practically pays for itself. In fact, have you noticed you can wear anything with jeans? Check out Sea of Shoes' mom, below. They don't even have to be crisp dark denim jeans. They can be a repulsive faded pair with cut-off hems, and do they go with velvet high heels, a tailored blazer and a sequined cardigan? Yes, they do.

Back in the day, no one would have dreamed of wearing formal cut-offs or leggings as pants with an above-crotch length top. People didn't wear pajamas on the street, boots with bathing suits, tank tops to dinner and flip-flops with wool coats. You wore your winter clothes in winter and your summer clothes in summer and you always had a hat.

Chambray diaper-esque onesie with black tights, and black velvet jacket.

Blazer, high heels, tailored bag, saggy, frayed cut-offs.

This doesn't go. Unless you're a teen. If you're a teen it is cute to mix and match and you are supposed to look like a wacky slob. But then if you are a teen your bag doesn't cost $12,000.

Obviously, fashion was more of a tyranny then, so it is good we have evolved out of it in many ways. Today, women have much more freedom, and the availability of fast, used and cheap fashion means you can look elegant clad in inexpensively-bought clothes. We have the option to be really creative and amazing, but we don't take advantage of it, so, as Simone and I have often discussed, we might as well issue standard clothing to people, because all those people wearing Juicy suits and leggings are just wasting their freedom anyway.

However, fashion is still a tyranny. We still cling desperately to ideas of masculine and feminine (Thank god guys pants are finally getting tighter!!!), we still dress the way we do because society tells us to. Women are often unwilling to present themselves as adults. No one wants to be statuesque or polished, everyone wants to be coltish and undone, like Kate Moss. And people seem to think dressing up is not punk rock/too much work/for other people.

It saddens me when I dress up for a fancy event and everyone else looks like a slob. Why not look nice? If you're a butch lady and resent having to dress up, try a well-cut suit! If you don't have a lot of money, you can find good shit at thrift stores. As I've previously written about, too many people think fashion is about labels and a non-accessible world instead of how they dress every day. It's not about being tied to fashion ideals, trends, shopping a lot, and the world of high fashion (as previously noted, they all look like slobs too), it's about presenting yourself with the dignity that comes from being turned out. It doesn't mean being boring or having to sacrifice yourself. And cut-offs with high heels look like TRASH, but not in a good way.


Nickey Robo said...

This is excellent. I pretty much agree with you in every way.

I will say, though, that I will never stop loving the very 90's look of a beautiful, ripped up vintage dress with combat boots. But, then again, I'm sure you'd agree that mixing things up isn't inherently bad- you just have to do it in a conscious way that doesn't look stupid.

Mary said...

Yeah, that was a good look. I remember I found the prom scene at the end of the Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie to be particularly empowering because of the vintage prom dress and combat boots combo.

mamatha said...

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