Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Things I Know Nothin About Episode 5: High Fashion

I like clothes. They're expressive and they can be mood elevating and they're fun to pick out. I don't have a whole lot of money to spend on clothes but for me that adds to the fun. Almost everything I own was bought off of a sale rack or at a thrift store or at a store that was cheap to begin with. I value good fit, solid construction, visual interest, and practicality. That being said not everything I own is particularly practical, but I don't own anything that I've only worn once or twice. I will wear the pink silk party dress that I bought for a special occasion on a normal day should I feel so inclined. I'll pair that shit with gold sneakers and a hoodie and rock it in the grocery store. I know I look unbalanced but it just makes me feel better about the gruesome reality of the world we live in. That's my relationship with fashion as best as I can describe it without giving you a full blown timeline of my shopping habits. Fashion is a creative form of expression that we get to partake in everyday and for that I am grateful. I am often troubled, however, when I take the next step and begin to think about fashion as an industry which I am buying into.

I am about 5'2 and anywhere between a size 4 and a size 8 depending on whether or not I need to sit down in whatever I'm wearing. Although I quit competitive sports several years ago my butt and quads tell a different story.  Basically, the fashion industry likes to ignore people with my body type not so much because it is unattractive, but because it is difficult to fit. Tall and skinny is just easier. I get that. Throw a quick paced fashion show with multiple wardrobe changes into the mix and I can almost understand why the face of fashion is so emaciated. I get that for many designers fashion is an art form and tall, skinny, weird lookin' bitches enhance their aesthetic because they are odd and exceptional and a normal girl, even a very pretty one, would make too commercial a statement. Fine. I am not going to drool over these kinds of designers but I do appreciate the beauty in what they create. What really bothers me about the industry is the inclusion of "Red Carpet Looks" into the realm of high fashion. A beautiful gown may be a piece of art but the minute you bring it out onto some meaningless procession of Hollywood stars it becomes a more damaging statement about standards of beauty and the financial implications of what "having style" really means.

Hollywood stars are the last people that any of us should be emulating in our fashion choices. Not only do they have tons of money, but they are getting free stuff thrown at them all the time for promotional reasons. It just isn't worth paying attention to. I'm not saying Hollywood style doesn't trickle down into my wardrobe indirectly, but I do not actively seek fashion guidance from Hollywood. Here is a picture I found online of three actresses who bother the shit out of me wearing dresses that are nice but have no place in the real world

If you are in a situation where you think to yourself "Oh my, I really need a gown and it really needs to be made by an important designer" than you are probably at least a little bit over-privileged and living a life that bears no resemblance to an authentic human experience. It is at this point in my ramblings that the "Things I know Nothing About" bit comes into play, because obviously, as a not rich person I don't know what kind of world these dresses actually get worn in. I just know that I wouldn't fit in there and have no envy of a lifestyle that facilitates spending on a dress what could be put towards something productive. Spending money on clothes you live your life in is one thing and I often wish that I had more disposable income so I could but another pair of Jcrew Cords. There is a huge divide between that and a multi-thousand dollar gown. And to wear such a gown one has to have a certain kind of body and spend a certain amount of energy on ones hair or makeup or the whole fantasy becomes sad and deflated. Hey, I went to prom. My dresses were homemade but I know the feeling of putting on something immensely beautiful and seeing all of your own flaws amplified in comparison.

To shift gears a bit, I would like take a moment to discuss trends and changes in the fashion landscape from decade to decade. There was a really interesting article in Vanity Fair  (You Say You Want A Devolution) recently about how fashion innovation has pretty much slowed down to a crashing halt in recent years and we are sort of stuck in a fashion feedback loop. I'm not going to try to take on the cultural implications of this because I've really only been fashionably conscious for a little over a decade (everything before age 12 is just a blur of leggings and scrunchies). I do think it's interesting though that my generation can't seem to get our shit together and do anything original. I know it's partly because our exposure to the past is exponentially greater to that of previous generations, but it has because so trendy to look like a relic that we seem to have forgotten that innovation is a thing that people do sometimes. Anyway the article says it better than I can. Go read it.

Ok. I've exhausted myself and I actually have  a room full of clothes to organize most of which seem to sweatpants and t shirts. All this talk and most of the time all I really want is to be comfortable and warm. Then again I'm from Vermont and my pragmatism can be pretty all consuming.

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