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Friday, November 05, 2010

Label Whores and Passive Dressers Sacrifice Self-Expression

When I woke up this morning I was feeling inspired by Marc Jacobs and his backwards cardigan, so I rummaged through my closet and found this gray and navy striped number that I have been ignoring for some time. After fastening the buttons and slipping it over my head, I threw on a jangling necklace from Urban Outfitters and briskly left the house. When it only takes me three minutes to dress myself, I know it's going to be a good day.

I really didn't even give a second thought to my ensemble until I grabbed my usual Thursday afternoon frozen yogurt. I unexpectedly felt a tap on my shoulder and slowly turned around till I was facing a complete stranger. I was a little taken aback, but when an army of single file buttons has your back (literally) you can't be terribly afraid.

"Excuse me, but is your sweater on backwards?" he said. Mind you, this came from an averagely dressed college guy. Based on what I saw at face value, I wouldn't say he was a fashion guru, but rather more of a t-shirt and jeans type. And he mistakenly called my cardigan a sweater. But who knows.

"Yes..." I replied.

"Oh, so it's fully buttoned in the back?"


My frozen yogurt was melting, taking all of the Heath bar crumbled with it like quicksand. I wasn't exactly annoyed, more like confused. And the funny part is I think he was confused, too. I don't think he was trying to compliment me and was just really bad at giving compliments; I felt like he was...concerned.

"Is it supposed to be like that?"

"Yes." Apparently, third times a charm when you use monosyllabic responses like "Yes" because the conversation ended there. But after my mish-mosh of chocolately delight and I awkwardly walked away I started thinking about his question, "Is it supposed to be like that?"

When I told him my top was supposed to be backwards, that was a logical, honest reply. I intentionally dressed myself that way, and someone aware of Marc Jacobs fall 2010 RTW collection would definitely be able to see that I derived inspiration from a "higher" fashion source. But if you aren't aware of this connection, my garment choice would certainly come off as aberrant and off-putting. This reaction is somewhat disappointing.

We are products of a society driven by systems that emphasize "normality." I am subservient to these cognitive institutions, too. I expressed in my blurb on Marc Jacobs that I never would have thought to turn around a cardigan and wear it like so, even though it's such a simple idea. I must confess this morning when I took a one-two look in the mirror I definitely had a sublime moment. Even though it probably only lasted a fraction of a second, there was a slight dissonance evoked at the sight of something being outside of its conventional wear.

Why is turning a shirt inside out or backwards considered out-of-the-box thinking? I really don't think that Marc Jacobs has some sort of divine brain where his super thoughts allow him to conceive magical sweaters. I think he challenges himself to think, to see things from different perspectives, to envision something outside of the normal. We often applaud D.I.Y. queens and fashion legacies, yet we also turn around to our average Joes and ask "is it supposed to be like that?" It's an odd contradiction.

Admiration for innovative dress is an everyday practice. We see cute celebrities on the covers of magazines and tip our hats to the latest Dior frock, but how often to we challenge our own capacity for style? Why does it matter what anything is supposed to be? And who is the agent who dictates these rules? It all goes back to one thing: self expression. Label whores and people who have literally given up on their appearances are sacrificing their ability to express through style. What a shame.

So this brings us to the poly-fold moral of my story/rant- Extracting inspiration from novel designs is definitely not a crime. Wearing novel designs because they help you express who you are is not a crime. These are the building blocks for a sense of community within the fashion realm. However, you should always push yourself to create your own outfits as if they were the last opportunity you have to express yourself. After all, it's not just an outfit, it's what you live you life in.


Ciara Sharp said...

#1. I really like this idea... deep v cardis for a deep v in the back eh? eh?
#2. I would have really loved to be there to see this little interaction happen haha.
#3. &most importantly... you gots some serious talent- this is written brilliantly.

...I can only sit here and be jealous as I attempt to write an essay that I have procrastinated (yet again) until the night before the due date.

love you & miss you. xoxo

Kristina said...

#1. Ironically it was a deep v cardigan! Personally, I like the v silhouette more than a crew version.
#2. Haha my friend Danielle was there and she goes "well, that was awkward." Story of my life.
#3. Thank you!

I miss you, too! And I hope your essay turned out well. I'll text you today. We are due for a catch-up chat.

love you & miss you, too. xoxo

Anonymous said...

I must say this is truly a fabulously written piece. If you don't do something editorial in the fashion world it would be a huge shame, and a waste of pure talent.

Kristina said...

That is quite possibly the nicest compliment I have ever received in my entire life! Thank you so much for your kind words and support!

Anonymous said...

Wow, this is truely brilliant! I've never thought of it like that, it's inspired me to do more with my outfits and really made me think!

Kristina said...

Woohoo! I'm glad you liked the post!

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