Sunday, August 5, 2012

Rambling: Undead in hats, or, ChickenFreak talks fashion.

I bought the August Vogue. It's probably the first Vogue I've bought in five years, and I bought it then for the same reason that I did now--to let a little light into the closed fashion cave that I live in. (Editing to add: I suddenly feel the need to clarify that the cave that I refer to is my mind, not my town. There's fashion in my town. I just don't pay attention.)

Reading it, though, I remain me. My geek eyes tell me that Louis Vuitton photographed vampire Cylons in big hats, all taking a train ride to Caprica. Marc Jacobs, on the other hand, has posed a group of Walking Dead on the beach--again in big hats. Big furry hats. In fact, most of the fashion ads seem to be populated by vampires--only the makeup models look as if they still breathe and register at something above room temperature. That's not to say that the fashion models aren't beautiful (though I don't intend to look at the Marc Jacobs ad after ten o'clock at night), they just don't strike me as human.

I subscribed to Harper's Bazaar, on the recommendation of someone over at Stitcher's Guild or PatternReview, I can't remember which. I haven't received my first issue yet, but the Google images for Harper's Bazaar feel more Holly Golightly and less Mad Max.

I'm re-reading The Thoughtful Dresser by Linda Grant, and once again finding its argument for "surfaces" persuasive, though I still don't enjoy shopping for clothes. Shopping for fabric, now, that's entirely different.

I read Overdressed: The High Cost of Cheap Fashion--and paid nearly full price for it at my local bookstore, rather than the drastically discounted price from Amazon, which seems highly appropriate given the subject. I realized that I completely missed the cheap fashion phenomenon--just as I was adjusting to the idea that normal humans do buy garments that cost more than a hundred dollars, apparently the normal humans were out there buying twenty-dollars dresses like candy. At least, that's what the book leads me to believe--is it true? And is it true that the average American buys fifty-nine--fifty nine?!--garments a year? Yikes. Unless I'm forgetting something, my newest purchased skirt is at least two years old, and I doubt that I'd have bought another one even if I hadn't started sewing.

The book makes me feel good about sewing my own clothes; while the author doesn't yet sew much, she enthusiastically advocates it as a solution to many of the problems that she describes. There's also the idea of "slow fashion"; I've barely heard of the movement and haven't done much reading about it, but I do like the phrase.

I also learned from the book that a few decades ago, it was rare for even inexpensive clothes to have a visibly-stitched hem, while now that's the standard for even expensive garments. I tested the theory in a used clothes shop--I scanned along the hemlines of a rack of dresses, looking for those that lacked visible stitching. And, yes, the first one that wasn't topstitched turned out to be a hand-sewn vintage dress. It was an appropriate size and fashion for Terri Garr in that Star Trek episode, a lovely sixties piece that cried out for go-go boots, so I couldn't come up with any excuse for buying it. But I was pleased at the success of the theory.

I was faintly aware that the waistlines of jeans had fallen well below the waistlines of humans, and had heard the term "Mom jeans" to refer to those jeans that look to me, who was a teen in the eighties, like they fit "right". I've studied the photos on the often-referenced page "Mom Jeans and the Dreaded 'Long Butt'" and with the exception of the elastic-waist jeans, continue to prefer the Before photos.

I was fascinated by a "Mom jeans" thread on PatternReview, and the assumption by many posters that of course Mom jeans are inherently unflattering and low-rise jeans are inherently flattering. I'm not claiming that the reverse is true, I'm just interested in the way that my eye, trained in the eighties and rarely updated since, comes to a completely different conclusion from eyes trained in more recent decades. To me, natural-waist jeans and tucked-in shirts look "right" (though I'm too lazy to tuck in my shirt); as I interpret the thread, the fashion-current see low-rise jeans and untucked shirts as not merely fashionable, but mandatory. I suspect that the current look will, in time, become as dated as the eighties look.

Today I bought a beautiful piece of Japanese cotton, white printed with green foliage, and am seriously considering making a highly theatrical garment, a blouse with a bodice in the slightly stiff, slightly glossy cotton, and gathered sleeves in white georgette or chiffon. I fear that it's a terribly 'eighties garment, especially since it makes me think of the long-cuffed Edwardianish lace blouse from Valley Girl, but it's possible that I don't care.

Me. Caring about clothes. Who knew?

Image: Wikimedia Commons.


  1. Mom jeans are just fine. There's a reason for a natural waist. Low-rise jeans look good on about .03% of us (I am not in that .03%). Alas, way more than .03% wear them, to deleterious effect. I know a young woman, weighing in at over 300lbs, who wears low-riders. Which would be fine (she can wear what she wants) ...except those jeans have fought - and lost - the Battle of the Bulge, at least twice. Not kidding. She wears striped cotton bikini panties. I know this. I've seen them - twice.

  2. Musette! Yep; even my high-waist jeans tend to be a fraction lower than I like when I sit down or bend down - I can't imagine wearing the low-rise things. In the unlikely event that I'm ever persuaded that Mom jeans are Bad, I'll just stop wearing jeans.

  3. I think I could write a book about fitting denim. In fact, I just halfway did, in this comment box, but luckily for you (and all your readers) I deleted it. :)

  4. Yo, Natalie! But I want the book!

  5. Haha. Perhaps I will try to re-create that book some day! :) I've been following your lead and limiting sugar and gosh do I feel a difference. I think I had been in denial about how not good sugar actually is for the body.

  6. Yep; it really does seem to make a difference. I still want sugar (WANT WANT WANT GIVE ME MR. PIBB!), but eliminating it does seem to really make me feel better in a lot of ways.