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Friday, October 19, 2012

Fashion Emancipation


“Being chic isn’t about following trends, it’s about setting them.” – The Chic Spy

Every now and again I get all serious, grown up(ish), business-y, and practical-like and decide I should be 'studying' fashion. Seeing as how I'm an image consultant and all, it would be a good idea, right? To know something about the industry I like to run my mouth about? 

And so for the next 10 whole minutes I scour the internet with great sincerity, focus and ferocious intensity, fully intending to begin my Fashion Industry Education.  This happened again last week, and well within the first 3 minutes I found myself watching a video of two young and enthusiastic fashion editors at the recent Paris fashion week. The format had them talking about their 10 favorite things about fashion week- they began rattling off clearly well-known names of the fashion world. And I didn't have the slightest clue what they were talking about.

Amazing. It was a new record. I had gotten all fired up to do this thing, and then felt utterly, completely defeated all within about 3.2 minutes.  I love looking at fashion imagery, but the sad truth is that when I read or listen to others talk about it I often feel like I'm listening to a language I don't understand.  Maybe it has to do with the fact that I don't know the history. Maybe some of it is because I'm really not into status or name dropping. Alright, the truth is all I want to do is look at the pretty pictures and then try on the pretty clothes, ok? So my intellectual development was arrested at age 5. Sue me.

I like color, composition, and interesting visual imagery. I really don't care who made it, or how much it costs. If it works visually, then it's good and I'm done. I don't care what's 'in,' what's considered 'hot' or whether or not it's 'cool' to like a certain artist or designer.

Even if I do someday manage to get to the point where I learn the language that is the world of fashion, I don't want to move away from my current standards. Because in the end, the crucial part is whether or not a thing works on you- does it flatter your proportions? Does the color enhance your coloring? Does it reflect your aesthetic, who 'you' are? And most important of all, does it make you feel good to put it on??

I would like to say that I know very well that a dress made for me by a couturier is going to fit better and look better than one I get at a low end chain store, but the truth is I've never had a dress made for me by a couturier, so I'm only guessing. (I think it's a pretty good guess though, don't you?) I do know that the better the fabric the better the chance that the garment will look and wear well. I also know from personal experience that if you spend the money for a well constructed garment it'll probably fit better. But in the real world we can't all afford the best there is, so we have to make do with what we can find and afford. 

So for now I'll just have to look at the world of fashion as an inspiration for what would work for me, and new ways to work with what I have access to. Viewed this way it's a wonderful visual feast to enjoy and from which to borrow ideas. The trick is to not be tripped up by thinking that because you may not be able to afford what you see out there in fashion la-la land you can't be chic. The trick is to see that as only a starting point for your imagination- your imagination and what you can find and afford. What you put together will be different than what anyone else would come up with. It'll be a reflection of you and no one else. And it just doesn't matter where these things come from, how old they are or what the label says. What does matter is that they flatter you and 'speak' to who you are. Put your own 'spin' on it and set a new trend...

Happy Dressing!