Saturday, May 13, 2006

Three Musings and a Baby

This entry is a bit of a hodgepodge, in three parts, so bear with me:

Through one of those rare, interesting, winding narratives between parent and child about the circumstances surrounding their birth, today I gleaned from my father the following tidbit:

On the way to the hospital when my mother was in labor with me, in December, as they (we) passed a strip of stores my mom suddenly told him to pull over so that she could do some Christmas Shopping. On her way to the hospital. In labor. And they did shop- until she, you know, had to go birth me.

Is this not a terribly fitting thing to learn about my origins?


"Style takes effort."

"Just because it is in Neiman Marcus doesn't mean it's right for her!"

-Clinton and Stacy, respectively, from What Not To Wear

So I'm watching the endless back to back reruns of the show (above) and I'm wondering about the public/private nuances of style. Because while it's something that's yours and reflects you, it's also aesthetic, clothes, meant to be seen by other people. How do you assert style unless someone sees you frequently enough to recognize and acknowledge your style? Celebrities aren't necessarily more stylish, but they do have the upper hand with the publicity they get in what they wear. (How can one be 'more stylish' anyway? It's like 'more unique'... it doesn't compute.)

In high school, girls and boys with style were easy to pick out. You saw them everyday. My friends knew when I was wearing new earrings, new pants. They saw me enough to get the gist of my wardrobe, preferences, style. If you live a private life, or at least don't see the same people with any frequency (and no one's in the woods and a tree falls) does style exist?

People tend to believe that style is a matter of either religiously following fashion fads (which it most certainly isn't- in fact, that's the near opposite of style) or being a total trendsetter (which it also is not- you don't have to reject things that flatter you because it's popular or prevalent). Style isn't, in the case of celebrities, owning a certain color or cut or designer and wearing it over and over again because it's "their thing." Style is about knowing what you like, what fits you, and being true to yourself (looking at you, Laertes, heh). Little quirks and flare can make the trendy, overexposed pieces and patterns look fresh and personalized. On the other hand, an awareness of style is often marked by incorporating contemporary ideas.

But how do you take style from a private idea of how you visualize yourself and make it a matter of public awareness, noted style? How do you accurately represent and express yourself through how you appear? A lot of the problems I witness daily, and the problems being addressed on shows such as What Not to Wear, are a result of a dissonance between the way one perceives his or her self and the way they are actually being perceived by the public eye. Stacy and Clinton show these people how to alter their mindset in order to assert their style- without changing the participant's initial concept of the his or her personal style.

Well, this public/private idea obviously needs to kick around a little more, but I'm going to work on it, and please feel free to share your ideas.


One last note. My baby sister went off to prom tonight. I'll include more detailed photos later (including shoes!), but for now, rest assured that with the help many of you provided, accompanied by what I can only imagine was a colorful, musical ensemble of beauty professionals ("Can you even dye my eyes to match my gown?") she came out beautiful.

Thank you!


Anonymous said...

Your comments on personal style vs public style( what you want to portray yourself to the public) is interesting.
I honestly think most famous people have no style because they employ stylist to help them dress up. If you are stylish yourself, why bother hiring someone?


The Style Bard said...

Well, that's true. I don't think stylists necessarily dictate what a client's personal style will be but they do pull the client's image together, so yeah, I'd call that cheating. Perhaps from PR perspectives stylists inform them on what to wear, but it's not like these people dress them every day.

Either way, they project a certain style and because it's publicized, it's known, it becomes a "style" rather than one day's "look".

Celebrities are also given free clothes and samples of beauty products to promote that aren't necessarily their style- another cheat. They don't have to just be selective to their tastes and purchase abilities, like us mere mortals.

I like to think of them as going into a photo shoot and going, "Mmm, yes, yes --er, no, I'm not wearing that, sorry." And showing personal discretion.