September 26, 2010

Fashionably Judgmental

Know, first, who you are; and then adorn yourself accordingly. ~Epictetus

The only thing that separates us from the animals is our ability to accessorize.-Steel Magnolias

I admit it. I am a bit of a Judgey McJudgerson when it comes to style. I have a venomous reaction to sweat pants, trainers, and pajama pants worn anywhere other than to the gym, or to bed. They first cause me to shake my head in disgruntled disgust, and then to throw up just a little bit in my mouth-this is not a pretty visual, I am fully aware. These particular items I find especially offensive on women-I see it as their betrayal of the sisterhood and what not. We are's a gift dag-nab-it...wrap it up pretty. Even with regards to sleepwear...(see The Cats Pajamas) life is too short for holey, grubby jammies. Why settle for a salt and pepper, paper thin, over-sized t-shirt-courtesy your loser of an ex boyfriend from 98', when we have been gifted with the lives and talents of Betsey Johnson, Nick and Nora, and the like? Sleep in style.

Mark my words, I make no claim of being a fashionista in any sense of the word. Couture is not an option on a shoestring budget. I do not have the body of a super model aka: clothes hanger... and furthermore, I have sort of grown attached to my soft bits. So outside of the fabulous hair, perfectly pouty lips, coveted handbags, complementary strappy designer shoes, and statuesque stature...I begrudge them not...The Beautiful Glamazons,that is. I prefer to never lose a dress size, than to sacrifice the sheer bliss I derive from chips, salsa and a frosted coca-cola...Life is too short for bland food and plain clothes...And...speaking of clothes (again)...I have always believed (and have likely stated repeatedly) that I have the soul of an artist, but none of the necessary skills to make the claim publicly. This is probably a feeble effort to dismiss my long list of eccentricities as something more colorful than oddity. Somewhere in that line of thought however, I have developed a philosophy. A philosophy that affirms that our bodies are a sort of outlet for our creative aspirations. A canvas for the artist without a paintbrush, an outlet for the clay-less sculptor, the message of a poet without a muse. And thus, my heart races accordingly at the sweet sensation derived through my trembling fingertips as they dance over a vintage velvet blazer with antique buttons. The deep emeralds, ripe plums, smoldering emeralds, burnt oranges of the fall fashion color palette make my mouth water and set my eyes to sparking. There is an entire universe of loveliness available to adorn ourselves in from season to season. Clothes... all of them...over, under and in-between layers evoke a passionate response within me. They stir my poor talentless and otherwise silent artist within. Thus causing an obvious cringe when I hear people say they selected ANY clothing item based only on its comfort factor. Comfort is a bonus, not a reason to purchase. While it is completely acceptable to NOT purchase something because it is painfully uncomfortable (likely the wrong style and fit to boot. This is not purely coincidental, learn to take a hint)...It is almost shameful to pick clothes solely based on how they cushion your lazy self as you sit on your tush watching Oprah, or Real Housewives...pick your poison...I'll find you an eye-sized fork. A failure to express oneself through wardrobe is a form of neglect...against yourself, against your body, against your spirit. A crime in my book anyway, the CJ Book of Judging Others Based On Their Wardrobe. Really it isn't as shallow as it sounds. No one is suggesting you emerge through your front door each morning hoping to be mistaken for the cover girl on this month's edition of Elle. Instead, just give it some thought and a smidgen of effort. Cute jeans? No more difficult to slip into than a pair of yoga pants. Earrings are our friends. Sweet, simple, sensational. Even the word "sweats" is dreadfully unappealing. Avoid them at all costs. Let's just call them "slobs" and be done with it. Mae West said, "Look your best- who said love is blind?" This includes the love of yourself. She also said "It is better to be looked over than overlooked." Wise, wise woman-take heed. clothing judginess is sexist and primarily one-sided. Boys are boxy. There is a reason why the tailored suit and military/athletic style uniforms are mainstays in the male world of clothing. Not accidental that the most famous male figure (the Statue of David) is adorned in not a single stitch. They're limited in how dramatic their clothing statement can be. Unless you're Bowie...and HE had to go femme to make a statement. And that statement? Confused in technicolor metallic-heavy on the guy-liner? If men have muscles to hug, a fitted shirt is nice. If they have broad shoulders, a pinstripe blazer is dashing. A nice shoe is key, but that goes with the ownership of feet. Tailoring is integral if they want to "say" anything in their dress whatsoever...other than, "I've had these clothes since college, wife/girlfriend/mother dresses me". Dressed up, dressed down...their shape is fairly standard. But not so for the softer, suppler sex. We have curves, their sharp and linear is contrasted and complimented by our smooth and voluptuous. He is a frame, to your Botticelli Venus. Our bodies are made for fashion, theirs for function. The two compliment each other flawlessly. They? Express themselves through hunting, gathering, feats of strength, and the legends of their conquests ever after. For us? Expression is life. It is what draws the sexes together, and it is what thrusts them apart. We use our faces, our words, our intonation and every nuance within our power to communicate and to express. Changing our hair, our dress, or even our lip gloss shade can change our entire outlook on life-at least for the day. Even if we let ourselves go? That too is likely expressing that we have surrendered, given up hope-in our heart, forfeited our aspirations...that we have grown too weary to even make an effort toward anything beyond survival, that we are now bereft of any and all inspiration. I once heard an older woman say, "Don't you ever choose clothes so as to go unnoticed?" Um...NO. NO I DON'T. It isn't that clothes should be selected to gain notice, but our wardrobe should embellish, enhance, and speak before we do. So in the profound verbiage of Salt n'Peppa..."Go ahead girls express yourselves."

Clothing is a gift, not an obligation. Don't leave your canvas blank, or more tragic still... don't wrap it in jersey. This is not a dissertation on glorifying the external over the internal. Please first-be good, be kind, be generous, be wise, be well-read, be conscientious and unselfish, be a solid humanitarian...but Use the tool of your wardrobe to express the multi-faceted, many textured, complex woman...(or man as the case may be) that IS you. In your own unique way-literally...wear (or convey) your heart on your sleeve...Allow in some ways, for your clothes to represent you-they do help them represent you accurately. I know you didn't ask my opinion, but I am giving it today-free of charge. I am speaking the truth in love. I am NOT the only one who wonders when dressing became a luxury...rather than a necessity...Talk amongst yourselves.

Clothes are our friends. If they're not? They should be.

These people say it better than I ever could...

One should either be a work of art, or wear a work of art. ~Oscar Wilde

Adornment is never anything except a reflection of the heart. ~Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel

When in doubt, wear red. ~Bill Blass