(images via: p-catz, unknown and bubbelsoda)
Looking at pictures from a bygone era, I cannot help but notice how some people look fantastic and make you wish you were born in a different era and then you try to think of the ways you could do a modern interpretation of their look and make it work for yourself. And then there are people who, while obviously following trends of that time, make you greatful that the era of volatile perms and shiny blue eyeshadow is over. The latter group also makes me wonder how their generation will appear to the furure generations looking back at this time.
I actually hate that word: trend. There is obviously a fine line between looking stylish and “of the moment” and looking like a victim of your fashion era. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have a lot to do with being pretty, as sometimes conventional pretty can actually stand in the way of translating fashion, which often prefers a certain edginess to one’s look and can sometimes even favour the “ugly. It’s about being able to pull off a look, by making it your own.
In that sense, fashion can be compared to a bad boyfriend. Sure, making mistakes when you’re younger is all a part of life, and you can learn a great deal from your mistakes. At one point though there comes a time when you learn to know who you are, and you are presented with choices. Once you try different things, and see how they work, mistakes become avoidable.
The thing about trends is that you have to become master them before they can master you. Various people who’s fashion sense has been deemed iconic, and who are often cited as inspirations, were known for the uniformity of their wardrobe, no matter how “eccentric” it was. From Coco Chanel’s monochromatic tweeds and camelias and Elsa Schiaparelli’s shocking pink, to Gaia Repossi’s preference for clean lines and menswear and Sofia Coppola’s french chic. All of these women are known for the boundaries they set to their personal style and how they experimented and navigated within those set parameters.
Which may seem stifling (as in: why would you confine yourself, when there are limitless options to chose from?), but it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s my opinion that it’s more interesting to explore a certain interest and see how far it can take you, than to scatter your focus over so many interest, that you eventually lose sight of most of them (again, it’s somewhat like relationships, to come back to my previous point.) I’m all for experimenting, but it takes skill to master a look and make it all your own.
This of course don’t mean a look shouldn’t evolve over time. But it’s a different story from blatantly adopting every micro-trend avaliable. Sometimes a colour or a cut becomes a trend and you find out it suits you perfectly and fits within your wardrobe as well. The fact that it’s a trend, means many labels at different price ranges will incorporate this trend within your collection and it’s great because now you get to pick and choose and it’s exciting! For example, I’m very happy with the revival of menswear-inspired shoes such as brogues and loafers, as there was a time not too long ago when finding a nice low-heeled shoe was not as easy. Sometimes though there will be seasons where not one trend works for you. That’s where you focus on basics and save your money for other, more appropriate seasons to come.
I read this interesting article on Psychology Today, that I found via Danielle Meder’s Final Fashion (she is an illustrator / trend analyst and her articles is always a great read.) The premise of the article is this: “Kanazawa, assistant professor of sociology at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, wondered: “If men found themselves being less attracted to their mates after being exposed to eight or 16 pictures in a half-hour experiment, what would be the effect if that happened day in, day out, for 20 years?”” and it goes on to explain how the human (in this case male) mind deals when presented with limitless possibilities to chose from, in this case beautiful women. It turns out, that amount of choice isn’t liberating, but it can actually become stifling. I believe this theory can be used to elaborate on ADD in children, but also on the way we shop, which results in the age old problem of having closets that are too full, and yet nothing to wear. As we seem to enter an age of modesty, which in itself can be viewed as a result of irresponsible opulance of recent decades, such excess seems distasteful, yes even vulgar.
When it comes to wardrobe, I find nothing more exhilarating than the process where you come across a garment that might just be perfect, but you take your time to really make sure and sometimes by the time you make up your mind and decide that this indeed in the garment for you, the garment can be sold out and you find yourself travelling to other cities and e-mailing people on the other side of the world that you foud online, in hope they’ll sell you theirs for a good price. Sure it can be frustrating, but when the search is finally over, and your garment is finally in your hands, ready to be worn time and time again, becoming an inextricable part of your wardrobe, there is an undeniable and lasting satisfaction. Which doesn’t come from buying random clothes on a whim only to find out they don’t actually fit with anything you already own, and they end up in the back of the closet with the price tag still attached. Good wardrobe is indeed like a good lovestory. And if this sounds slightly fetishistic, well that’s probably because it is. =)