Posts tagged ‘Clothing’

December 16, 2010

Lacanian larks

Another blisteringly hot day in Sydney! I spent most of the day napping, because the heat makes me terribly sleepy. I think it was blisteringly hot, anyway; I suspect that quite a few others think it was simply a lovely day.

You’re mad if you do think that. Egad.

(Kidding. I tend to think it’s hot when it reaches 22°C.)

Scorching, ghastly heat notwithstanding, the bright sun seems to demand more colourful outfit palettes. I’ve been tempted to turn to my black and white pieces because I haven’t worn them in eons (winter makes me want colour, actually; I love colour in winter) but they don’t feel half as suitable. Proof, I think, that I should do away with my attempt to create a ‘neutral’ palette. Ha!

I’m very bad at doing conventional colours.

Really very bad. These are a couple of pages that Valerie and I did in our colouring book, post-Honours thesis:

 

I couldn’t bear to make the giraffe yellow and brown, because while yellow and brown is indeed a rather striking combination, yellow and blue and red is far more appealing. Particularly when it’s an animal. Valerie did the cow. It is blue because milk cartons are blue (or, rather, should be blue — some milk cartons are not blue and this is apparently quite the travesty) and cows, being milk-givers, must also logically be blue. According to Valerie, blue packaging makes dairy products taste better. Not being much of  a dairy consumer (save for copious amounts of cheese and ice cream), I really couldn’t say. Who knows.

We combined our colourin’ skillz to do the crab. I don’t recall much pre-colouring planning, save for agreeing that the crab couldn’t be red because red is the colour of cooked crabs, and cooked crabs are not underwater. (Crabs holding paintbrushes are likely to be cooked and dead , too.)

Colouring. It is good for the soul. I did not do any today, because my soul has been consumed by post-Honours academia. Damn them all. I want to go to sleep.

But I can’t go to sleep yet, because I have to show you The Things I’m Wearing. Here they be:

Arr.

One day, I will write you a post free of pirate slang (unless related to the post), geekery, internetz spellin’ and general syntactical splendour. It will be marvellous, and it will never happen. Sorry. I like pirates and I like mispelling things ‘ccording to teh intarwebz. The rhythm is fun. And it stops me from getting too serious. I can be so. amazingly. dull. when I’m serious.

Anyway. I am wearing a teal/pale blue (depending on how you see colours) Flames to Dust cardigan, from Alannah Hill’s Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. Underneath it is a pale pink camisole from the Spring/Summer 2009 collection, and its called ‘Adorable Wafer Girl’. I have a sprig of who-knows-what tucked into my cardigan because Valerie put it there for giggles, and one must humour one’s photographer sometimes, especially if one suspects that the photographer is Not Quite Sane.

The headband is called ‘Parking Lot Love’ from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection. It differs slightly from the ‘I Don’t Care for Pearls’ pearl headband from a previous season in that the pearls are gradated in size, so that the bigger ones are in the middle of the band. The bow itself is untouched (I know, huh?) because I haven’t really had a reason to replace it. The colours work well and I think that the emphasis on bigger pearls balances out the overly flamboyant bow. All in all, it’s quite a good piece as it is.

 

Have another picture to break up the brick wall of words:

My skirt is the ‘Look Up My…’ skirt from the Spring/Summer 2010 collection. It is my only tulle ballerina skirt and I think I need more. (I’m pretty sure it’s my only tulle one. Oh help.) It’s belted in with a pink leather belt, sprinkled with flowers in a row.

The belt is called ‘Daisy Chain’ and comes from the Spring/Summer 2009 collection. It was far too big for me and I took to making new holes in it with a knife. The kids next door saw me doing it through my bedroom window, except they only saw the flash of a knife every now and then and probably had no idea what I was doing. I suspect they had no idea, because they looked very scared indeed. I am rather fond of that memory.

My shoes are from Siren and dear me they are high. I’m quite used to walking in heels — I have quite the flexible foot and a rather high instep and arch, and I’m used to taking the weight of my body onto the balls of my foot (or the tips of the toes when I was dancing).

I usually wear heels around 4″ high, which is terrible for my feet, I know, but I am under 5′ and the boost in height means I don’t have to tiptoe too much talking to someone over a counter/reception desk/etc. These shoes, however, are 5″ without a platform. They’re still quite wearable but definitely higher than what I am used to. Not the sort of shoe I’d wear for a long city ramble. Just for uni and quick errands. (I hope none of you are podiatrists. Forgive me for I have sinned. Bad shoes are my vice — I don’t drink,;I don’t smoke; I don’t gamble; I don’t even go clubbing. Let me have my silly shoes!) Tip: if you cannot raise your heels off the floor by about an inch (by going onto the balls of your feet/your toes, without bending your knees), your shoes are way too high for you and there is no way you will be able to walk without imitating a newly born giraffe. Not a good look.

And here’s a collection of ‘goofy and dorky things I did today’ snaps. They actually occurred right after the shot that opens this blog post, so pop it into the storyboard in your head:

They inspired the title of this post — I saw my reflection in Valerie’s kitchen window and, with a nod to Lacanian mirror theories (in which, briefly, a child sees its reflection and identifies with it and lo, a notion of subjectivity is borne… or something. Not a fan of Lacan; too eager to fall into ‘child as a blank slate’ constructs) piped, ‘I’M A FAIRY PRINCESS’ and started wafting around. And ended with a suitably twee and fairy-like pose, for which I have no excuses. It was a twee outfit. The moment overcame the age, etc. (That line is from John Fowles’ French Lieutenant’s Woman and is one of the funniest books I have read, evar, and you should read it too. It is a brilliantly witty take on narrative, on genre, on writing conventions and it’s really just very good.)

I think I will have to avoid overly twee outfits  in overly twee settings for a bit, if this is the consequence. Bah humbug!

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December 15, 2010

What you should spend your money on

Do you have a spare $30?

Good.

Then hie thee hence to ClearIT Online, at which these belts (in cream, black or navy blue) are available for $19 + $10 express shipping. I’m pretty sure I paid a hell of a lot more. (Maybe $29 + $10 shipping, but when you have to count every silver cent in the way I do, $10 is an awful lot.)

Thar it be! I have it in navy blue and black, and I want it desperately in cream but, alas, I am terribly broke and it’s either a cream belt (which will probably just be used when I don’t feel like using my other cream belt) or dinner next week, so. Fashion fades but starvation feels eternal.

These belts go with a huge amount of things and I imagine they fit most sizes. A belt is hugely important when you’re mixing and matching unpredictable colours and patterns — they’re the transition item that marks the change, without necessarily drawing a flat boundary.  The grey in your outfit of black and white that suggests a movement between pieces rather than just a lot of unrelated layers. I don’t know what I’d do without mine.

If you’re quite petite, the ties might be a tad too long but I can show you a tricksy way to wrap the belt around your waist so that it fits. (Leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you.)

Just for the record, I’m not affiliated with ClearIT Online, Factory X or Alannah Hill (though I certainly wouldn’t mind a job offer…), just the usual happy customer/big fan who wants to share the love and little hearts.

And this belt has it, times three.

November 20, 2010

Satirical sartorialism: fashion and femininity

(A note: this isn’t a fashion post as such. It’s more of a pseudo-academic musing, which I understand isn’t always what people are after on lazy Saturday afternoons. Click here for today’s usual outfit post ^^. —I must add, however, that this post contains a rather dorky set of photos, so if you want to see the stranger side of me, have a read through XP. My outfit is pretty damn’d cute too, if I do say so myself.)

I read a great post, Selling Myself, by a fellow Voguette. She discusses the fact that Alannah Hill is an incredibly feminine brand; that sales depend on selling a (very feminine) image; and whether or not it matters that she is selling femininity. This post is a run-off rather than a direct reply; I’ve used it to bounce into my own reflections about my femininity and fashion choices.

As someone aware of and interested in gender, I often have to reconcile the fact that I am a feminist performing a very specific type of femininity — a femininity that is often derided as frivolous and a hindrance to feminist movements.  It would be easier if I were an individual engaging in genderfuck or even someone who dresses androgynously (as Tilda Swinton does), or dresses like Valerie, who is often seen in (a more feminine) vest and tie. Such performances are far more explicitly gender-b(l)ending than my rather conservative display of femininity.

Me (left): 'girly' girl: Bows; skirt. Girl. Valerie (right): 'not-girly' girl; tie; vest. Girl.

That being said, genderfuck performances are often read as ‘just fucked up and wrong’ as opposed to a playful approach to gender; androgynous or cross dressing people are often shunted into the butch/femme binary — that is, their dress choices are immediately (and sometimes erroneously) equated with their sexuality. These performances are often recognised and read through a conservative gender lens. Performances alone, unfortunately, do not invite reflexivity.

So what if we played within the actual constructs of gender? Dressing like a tomboy or like ‘one of the guys’ stems from a rather androcentric stance — that masculinity is neutral and femininity is other. And a feminine ‘neutral’ outfit — a laid back and ‘prettified’ jeans and t-shirt affair — feels to me like a naturalisation of the relationship between ‘prettiness’ and female. So I decided, a good five years ago, not to fight it, but to accentuate it a little; make it just a bit more absurd. I slipped out of my jeans and t-shirts and took ‘girliness’ to the absolute heights (that my wallet could reach XP).

This has, of course, invited very conservative readings of my gender identity. All of a sudden I was offered Jane Austen books at bookstores (don’t start me on how boring I find Austen); people expected me to be shopping for my boyfriend at EB Games; and people look rather taken aback and perplexed when I say that I once spent over twenty-four hours, without sleep, grinding my character to the next level in an MMORPG.

My clothes have led people to dub me a ‘girly girl’, although outside of makeup and clothes, I don’t ascribe to conventionally feminine interests at all. My interest in makeup and clothes stems from aestheticism and colour theory as well, not necessarily from ‘looking attractive’ (although that’s always a plus!) — I derive the same pleasure from putting together a nice outfit as I do from putting together a nice arrangement of objects. If I were a male in nineteenth-century England, I would be all over Piccadilly carrying lilies with the best of them. (And swooning. I find that aesthetes in literature are always fainting onto couches.)

This does baffle me a bit, because I can’t help but ask: what does it mean when I’m dubbed ‘a girly girl’? I’m ‘more’ girl than the girl in jeans and a t-shirt? But we both (presumably) have female genitalia; we both (presumably) have the XX chromosome.  How can the clothes on my back suddenly deem me more ‘girl’? All of a sudden gender is marked not by biological sex but by something else — something that is rather arbitrary, like clothing.

I mean, look at me, everyone. I’m seriously a dork. I don’t spend all my time lounging in teahouses and cafes and looking for vintage things. I do spend a great deal of time doing so, but that’s not because of my biological sex — in the same way my dorky geeky nerdiness* isn’t because of my biological sex, either. (*The first thing I did when I got my iPod Touch was download the lightsabre app and run around making ‘zzwmmmm’ noises. But I don’t have pictures of that.) I’m not quite sure what I was doing here, but rest assured: it was epic.

Least. Feminine. Action. Evar. But-in-a-pink-dress.

If I were in a dorky looking t-shirt and had my hair all frizzy, I doubt anyone would call me ‘very girly’. Take away my dress and cardigan and I am no longer obviously ‘girly’, which suggests a (simplified) equation: Andrea + current clothes = girly girl; Andrea – current clothes = girl; therefore current clothes = girly.

Clothes maketh the girl here; and certain clothes mark femininity. Femininity is, put simply, a costume: something we perform and something we do. As a costume and a performance, it can also be taken off and stopped. It is hugely unnatural to strut around in high heels as it is to rip the hair out from under our arms, but it is being marketed to us as a very natural thing: something that women ‘like’ or ‘have’ to do, by virtue of our gender.

What I hope to do by dressing in such an absurdly girly way is highlight how much of a costume it is: how much effort goes into engaging in all the trappings of femininity, how very controlled and limiting it is, how very ridiculous it is to expect women to conform to it all the time.  And I enjoy this performance. I do; else I wouldn’t be doing it. But I enjoy it in the same way I’d enjoy dressing up in a costume of a film character: there’s something really terribly awesome about acting a role. I just happen to act a role on a daily basis.

Of course, this doesn’t work flawlessly. It has made a few of my students think,  once or twice. It’s also probably been read as ‘just girliness’ by countless of other people. As such, my choices may be just the indulgence of a privileged middle-class first-world cis-gendered female (booyeah cultural theory keywords!), pretending to take a political stance. In my defence, I’m not trying to tangibly change very much by dressing the way I do. I am aware, however, of the politics of performance, both in a theoretical mechanics-of sense and in the tangible political realm. An explicitly artificial, costumed, so-feminine-it’s-almost-unreal performance seems to fit the bill as well as anything else.

I also think it’s really important to claim femininity as a valid performance. ‘Serious’ things are always equated with the masculine. If you want to suggest that a girl is stupid, you style her in pink and frills and bows. I get great thrills from appearing all frilled up and being able to hold my own in an academic debate; in wearing bows and pwning people at computer games. And these thrills stem from the reactions some people first have when they see me: a bit incredulous, a bit unsure… and, largely, a bit definitely positive that I’m not cut out for whatever task for which I’ve arrived.

I don’t want to have to don a suit to look respectable and serious. I can do just as good a job (in my field) in heels and with bows in my hair, and I don’t want to act some form of masculinity just because being male is srs bzns and somehow more valid than femininity.

November 18, 2010

Collar me impressed

I have a confession to make: I am terribly, amazingly bad at dressing for the weather. In summer, my little cardigans make me feel too warm (but my outfits feel incomplete without them!); in winter, I wear light thin coats, because thick coats inevitably make me so hot that I feel like I’m in my own wool-lined sauna. The thing is, light coats don’t keep me nearly as warm as I’d like, but I far prefer freezing to being hot.

Yesterday, though, I found the perfect middle ground: a thin wool-cashmere coat from Alannah Hill, in a navy blue with an adorable cream blazer-like collar. The collar was what sold me on it, actually; I think it’s the nicest touch of awesome without going out in a full blazer glory (blazer glory… blazing glory… geddit? You have permission to slap me for my puns).

Better yet, I got it for $85 — down from $795! I remember seeing it when it first came out a few seasons ago and passing it by, because I couldn’t justify $800-odd on a coat that didn’t wow me. (I also refused to try it on, just in case the atmosphere of the Alannah Hill boutique made it look extra sparkly and full of win. I find the boutiques tend to do that. Terrible.) But when I saw it at ClearIT Online for $85, it was as though someone had covered it in cupcakes and Christmas tinsel. It was without a doubt the BEST COAT IN THE WORLD AND I HAD TO HAVE IT AAAUGH.

Thing is, I was and still am dead broke. I had 60c in my bank account (and now I have absolutely nothing). Having no job for the year has killed my wardrobe; it really has. After rifling through my wallet and rummaging in my change jar, I managed to scrounge up the $85 I needed to secure the coat. In fact, I managed to rustle together $100, and so I threw caution to the wind and tossed in an order for a mint green silk slip to wear under sheer dresses. I’m on a spending ban, effective right this second, so I’m hoping this will keep me content for a bit. (Ha.)

This is the coat, and it’s a wonderful weight — not as thin as my little spring jackets, but not as thick as the heavy woolen ones I’ve worn when overseas. Definitely not warm enough for a crisp European autumn morning but it’ll do for Sydney’s balmy winters:

The coat is called ‘Languishing Around’ and is from her Autumn/Winter 2009 collection. I got quite a few of my favourite pieces from that collection, which I’ll have to share sometime. There was also a coat called Vote For Me which I really, really loved… but I found the material a bit lacking. It looks lacklustre in this photo but the cut was amazingly flattering and the ruffles were actually really fun. I saw it on a girl at uni once and it looked stunning. Still looking out for the perfect ruffled coat!

This coat can go with basically everything in my wardrobe, I think — I imagine I’ll be pairing it quite often with my navy-red-cream outfits (not as nautical as they sound, I promise). The first thing I did, though, was try it on with my favourite dress — it’s called the ‘My Sweet Bow Frock’ from Alannah Hill’s Autumn/Winter 2008 collection. I don’t have a photo of it by itself yet but I’ll try to take one soon. It’s a gorgeous berry colour, very close to the colour of the lining of my new coat:

 

Okay, so it’s not a very obvious difference in the photo, but I really like it in real life. The navy blue brings out the darker blue flowers in the dress, and the white stops the whole outfit from falling too far into the darker side of the colour spectrum. The outfit is basically inspired by one of the collection’s lookbook photos — just a different dress and a different belt. Wouldn’t mind getting the belt they used it the lookbook, though — it’s a larger bow made out of cream leather and looks pretty fun.

 

I also bought this mint green slip, which is all silk and a bargain at $17. I tend to buy one with most of my ClearIT orders, because they’re such a good price and I can wear them with almost anything — and even if I can’t, they don’t make bad nighties in summer. It’s rather creased in this photo because it was straight out of the parcel:

 

Oh, my, the excitement. Will it ever end.

Seriously, though, it’s a lovely muted green. I’ve tried it under this dress, from Alannah Hill’s latest collection (called ‘Devil in Disguise’). This is the dress originally, with an ivory slip:

 

And here it is with the green slip, which changes its appearance considerably:

I like that the green lends the dress a cooler tone (as opposed to the warm, almost pink undertones of the cream). Will probably try to bring it out with pale blues and maybe a darker contrasting colour — though I’m not sure what colour that is, yet. Tempted to try a teal, although I don’t know if that will work.  Pale blue is definitely in order, though; a silvery pale blue hair accessory.

Like I need any more hair bows, lol!