The icing on the camel’s back

In the nearly 20 years I’ve known you, you’ve always been prone to wearing clothes that are black and baggy. But now they’re black, baggy, and covered in cat hair…and that’s just one thing too many.”

–my friend “SilverTongue” to me, Summer 2005

If you’re thinking, “OMG I would never speak to her again!!!” remember that she was beyond right and HILARIOUS. I find it a tough combination to resist.

Four years after my friend’s challenge, my exterior is more stereotypically Mainstream Professional than Dickensian Anti-Chic. And four years after her gauntlet-throwing, the intersection of fashion, personal style, commerce, and women’s bodies remains ever-political.

Think it’s tediously womyn’s lib to believe a “politics of fashion” exists? Me, I feel better knowing something about how fashion and women have rubbed along in the past. Forewarned, forearmed. Couture’s technical stars hold appeal, but so do the everyday women who’ve been risk takers and rule breakers. Give me those who stepped out in bloomers and those who slashed skirt hems sky-high; let me applaud those who created high-performance compression wear and those who flung their bras into moldering clumps. Bring on the sauntering hemp wearers and let the with-2%-stretch fans cartwheel by!

One woman’s meat is another’s poison, of course; my nearly 70-year-old pal lets me look to the past while she scans the horizon for what’s coming next. Granted, the horizon-scanning may be because she finds much of what I wear depressingly sedate as well as a mismatch with my trucker vocabulary. “THINK CAMOUFLAGE,” I hiss at her when I see her making that face she tends to make when she registers that I’m once again in sensible separates to her gold lamé.

See, I’m not such a born-again that I can’t respect those with a variety of viewpoints, like LAME IN BROAD DAYLIGHT. This includes “non-viewpoints,” too: if someone prefers a utilitarian approach to clothing, he or she can have at it. Naturalists? Ditto.

But if you’re on the fence about this whole style thing, and your choice is between clothing that flaunts a characteristic you love about yourself vs clothing that helps you fade into the background? Choosing the former can be a lot more transgressive than you think.

3 Responses

  1. You certainly have changed! I can’t imagine you in baggy black. I dress like a page from the old Sears catalogs I used to obsessively pore over as a child: Even Our Very Low Priced Separates Are Made of Fabric!

  2. Take a leap and always express yourself (in the words of Madonna) through your clothing – it’s fun and non-toxic.

  3. “Even Our Very Low Priced Separates Are Made of Fabric!” ??! I smell another guest appearance in this blog, Ms B.

    Imogen, I find it’s a process. And the more I know, the more I resemble Goldilocks vs one of the nice mellow bears. [And people, check out Imogen’s blog, Inside Out Style…it’s right there in my nav bar.]

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