05 September 2011

A Fashion Statement

It seems that many people write and read about fashion—there are fashion blogs, fashion magazines, and books on how to be fashionable on a budget. Some people who know me slightly may mistake me for one who is interested in fashion. In fact, various relatives of mine occasionally ask me for advice on whether a certain article of clothing is cool or fashionable. I fear that they have found me to be largely useless for the purpose of a fashion advisor, however. There are a few fashion faux pas that I strongly advise against, including the athletic shoes with skinny jeans combo, and sweatpants for any situation other than sleeping. But for the most part, my only response to questions of fashion is, “Do you like it? If you like it, and enjoy wearing it, then it’s fashionable for you!” Another question never to ask me is, “Does this *article of clothing* match with this *article of clothing*?” In my view, if you believe that your outfit matches, that’s all you need. As you can tell, I am a proponent of individual fashion—letting each person create their own unique style which is not dictated to by the “rules” of fashion.

I think the reason that people mistake me for someone interested in fashion is because I really do like clothing. However, compared to true fashionistas—I do not know a single name of a clothing designer, I don’t own an accessory or an article of clothing worth more than $150 (and that one’s my wedding dress!), and I have been known to wear suspenders and Dorothy-esque pink Converse to school (“There’s no place like home! There’s no place like home!”)
Many people recognize that I have a style all my own. My husband says that pretty much the first thing he noticed about me was that I “dressed really weird.” He says he figured that either meant I was too dumb to know what normal people dress like, or else I was really smart and expressed it in eccentric clothing choices. I find that amusing because for years I have decided upon a strategy of using my colorful outfits to trick other people into thinking that I am not a brainiac. I guess it sort of worked on Angel. I have named my everyday style “Rachel,” and just in case anyone wants to dress up as me for Halloween, here’s a few characteristics of this style:
                Unexpectedness is a key term in this style. I have been known to wear a Japanese kimono to college, randomly. It is considered unexpected to wear an elegant white dress with dark purple leggings. My most used colors are black, white, magenta, turquoise, dark purple and denim. I typically mix elements of different styles. I might mix punk with ultra-feminine by wearing a flowery sundress and loading up on the black leather armbands with metal studs (yes, I own approximately 6 of those, maybe more). I’ll wear a traditional long tunic from Bangladesh with skinny jeans and cowboy boots. That particular outfit was titled “Cowboys and Indians.” Another important characteristic is that most of my daily outfits have titles; one of my favorites is “Captain Jack.” I don’t like scarves, the colors yellow and orange, or sandals. Nothing International Development Major-ish. For imitating this style, the details are important. I only tolerate purses because of the necessity of keeping my wallet close at hand, so an old, ratty purse with no fashion value with quite acceptable. Varicolored fingernails are important, and so are sparkly things hung on necks, ears, and wrists. Temporary hair color, usually with some sort of reddish tint, is a good addition.
Just in case anyone was interested, here are the only fashion/shopping tips I am qualified to offer:
1.       1. If you’re not in love with it, don’t buy it. This may not work for everyone, because I recognize that not everyone falls in love with their clothes. However, with me it’s usually love at first sight. If I don’t love something, I won’t buy it, because I know that I will never grow to love it. When I do immediately love an article of clothing at the store, and choose not to buy it for financial reasons, I know from experience that the article of clothing will haunt me for years to come. For this reason I have taught my heart to only love affordable clothes—it usually obeys.
1.       2. You don’t have to wear something just because it’s fashionable. Different fashions suit different people. Some fashions do not suit my body type, and some do not suit my opinions. I hated—and I mean despised—skinny jeans for probably the first three years that they were popular. I eventually changed my mind and decided that I liked skinny jeans, but as long as I disliked them, I refused to buy them and totally ignored the fashion among girls my age. Someday, I’ll hate skinny jeans again, most likely, and I’ll be buying bootcut jeans again.
1.      3.  Don’t buy practical clothes. Practical clothes are needed for many things, but they will always come to you. It’s an unusual situation when you need to spend money to get them. Use ill-fitting handmedowns as your scrub the bathtub clothes. When I want to ruin a shirt, I just wear one of my dad’s or Angel’s, and go paint the ceiling. When a well-meaning relative gives you an outfit that you just don’t like—go ahead and use it for pajamas, or go clean the basement in it. See what I mean? It seems that “practical” or grubby clothing always in good supply, so don’t buy something just because it’s cheap and would be great to work in.
1.      4.  Last thing. Try, if at all possible, to have fun getting dressed every day! When I’ve put together an outfit that I really like, I look in the mirror and yell “Genius!!” in triumph. Usually, I also do a victory dance. I hope that people around the world feel the same way when they get dressed. If you don’t, try yelling, “I’m a genius!!” every day after you get ready—if it doesn’t make you feel better, it’ll at least make other members of your family laugh at you—and you love bringing joy to your family, don’t you?
 (The pictures I just added for fun--they are some of my favorite outfits caught on film over the years. Many of you may remember some of these events. And yes, I am using licorice sticks as a hair accessory in the "red" themed outfit. I just realized I missed out on another favorite, the outfit entitled: "Purple-haired Backwards Guitar Playing Rocker Cowgirl" I don't know where the picture is!)