The other kind of label

editors often introduce new fads/styles/wares with compact little sound bytes: preppy, girly, vampy, playful, futuristic, modern, nostalgic, classic, edgy, polished, extravagant, modest, punk, conservative, youthful, intellectual, and so on. these words are part of a larger vocabulary that then fills in the full character of the woman of the season. she's posed in settings and the clothing helps narrate her identity. that identity is then spread out over what jewelry, hair, makeup, interests, shoes, attitude and purse she ought to possess. it's a larger sensibility that infuses many many details.

do you buy a look, not meaning head-to-toe designer, but a whole role, a character?


GenX Theorist said...

This is one of those seemingly innocent fashion questions that is actually a deep well of complexity (which is my favorite kind of fashion question!).

It's kind of a chicken and egg thing, isn't it? I feel, that no matter what, yes...I go for a character and a role. And I'd like to say that the ultimate role is...myself. Elizabeth. With all my uniquenesses factored in.

Certain brands that sell a look that I consider myself - well, that's me. Certainly, others on this planet that are similar to me exist. Therefore, the people behind the aesthetics of, say, Dries, or Mayle, or Chloe, are inspired by the same things I have been my whole life. Such as...tights with clogs. Fine materials. Bright colors. And...Edwardian cuts.

In many ways, it's a glorious feeling of togetherness. That I can have this identity (that is strongly visual) - and others speak to it - and I answer it. Did I have it first and they simply speak to it? Did they have it first and I simply buy it? Did we all come at it together? Is it the times?

Then...on another page...I have great respect for the "active taking-on of roles". I just enjoy it as an activity. It's interesting and fun. It refutes the mundane. I don't think I'd be nearly as interesting a character if I hadn't have watched Breakfast at Tiffany's...or Easter Parade...when I was melting away in So. Cal in the 80s. Those movies gave me alternatives. Or, what about when I saw Belle de Jour? I've never been without a fitted peacoat since.

I could have cared less about the storylines in the films really. What mattered was the way these characters armored themselves for the streets, for the world, with their fashion.

I've never had much congnitive dissonance between the search for self-expression and the application of roles into my wardrobe. The most important thing to me is the fight against the blahs. Modern workwear, american apparel in 2007 in the majority of places, is on a fast track to U-N-I-F-O-R-M. Depressing uniform. It's a sad reflection of our emotional state that it's suddenly OK to have no style, no indiviual expression, no nothing. That saying "I don't care" with one's work outfit is not only acceptable, it's the rigour de jour.

So, I guess I'm thinking about this post in relation to the last in terms of...sometimes I worry that I'm buying a look (in a sucker-for-marketing kind of way). But on a larger scale, I also think a look is a good thing.

The Clothes Horse said...

In my head my outfit definitely transforms me into a character and I feel myself holding myself differently, walking differently when I become these people. To be Bette Davis for a day would be marvelous, but perhaps a bit conniving...

Iheartfashion said...

I've toned it down since high school, when I actually went to school many days in costume, complete with face paint (I remember a particularly successful replication of Picasso's "Portrait of Dora Maar" rendered in face paint).
Like GenX Theorist, I take inspiration from movies, mostly the classics. Who wouldn't want to look like Holly Golightly or Jean Seberg in Breathless or Katherine Hepburn in The Philadelphia Story?

Candid Cool said...

I like to think that I am playing a character. There's so many different influences in my head, one day i want to dress like hedi's girl, or very classic, then others i want to wear kimonos/kaftans or floor sweeping dresses.

as far as Fashion goes, if the look appeals to me then I dont mind going for it. Now if I had a spare $3,700ish sitting around I'd have one of those massive Dolce & Gabbana metal "Chastity Belts" but this 80s/90s saved by the bell intro type clothes coming back, thank u, wore it when i was kid, hated it then, (but i wasnt buying my own clothes then)

landis smithers said...

ever since i saw rosalind russell in auntie mame, perhaps the greatest costume drama in the history of film, i KNEW that clothes (down the nails, hair color, and the very walls of the place you lived in) were a reflection of YOU, and there was no more fun way to express yourself than to flaunt it. all the way down to lilacs on your bum under your mourning suit.

so yeah. express that character!