Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Fashion Plate

As promised, I'm going to start posting some of my articles from my column in our school newspaper on here. This is The Fashion Plate, the title of which is inspired by a nickname my 4th grade teacher was awfully fond of referring to me as.

It's meant to inform individuals about dressing well, as well as be humorous and, you know, NOT BORING TO READ. It's difficult enough to get college students to read the news so the least the writer can do is spice it up. From what I've been told and complimented on, this column is very well regarded at my school.

I'll let you guys check it out. Enjoy!

As I rode home with one my closest friends last night, our conversation slipped quickly into the world of fashion.

Like me, she was deeply concerned for the generation surrounding us, the one with the denim cut-off miniskirts, fur-lined Uggs and “Jersey Shore” Snooki hair-poofs becoming the norm.

“I feel like people aren’t dressing for themselves anymore,”she said. “I feel like they’re dressing to be trendy. I don’t want to be a part of that, and I like the clothes from eras like the 1940s, but I really don’t think I can pull off that look.”

A sense of quiet sadness filled me when she said this.
I know I’m not alone when I say I wish I had been born during a different decade or another century.

When I was in third grade, I was fascinated with the look of the early 1900s Victorian society.

My hero was Samantha Parkington of the “American Girl” series. I read all of her books and studied the fashion notes background section in the back of the novels. The starter kit included little white gloves, lace parasols, corsets and hoop skirts.

In grade school, we were told to make an outline of what we believed our future would be like. My future, I happily informed my teacher, would have me dressed in petticoats in my day to day life.

She tore my paper a part for writing that. It was impractical to dream of being Mary Lennox from “The Secret Garden” and unrealistic to expect that I could dress like that.

Though I was deeply crushed to read such a remark, it burned a fire inside of me. I would not be told if I could or could not wear something ever again. I’d take impracticality over ordinary any day of the week.

If forced to conform to ordinary (i.e. school uniforms), I would spin it so that my sense of self shined through.

I’ve been through a series of clothing phases ever since. My closet back home is a testament to this fact.

There was a period of time in which I didn’t dress for myself. Luckily, this period of time was one with Dooney & Bourke handbags and Le Tigre polo shirts, the way most of my high school looked on a casual uniform-less Friday.

This was before the time where dressing with leggings as a substitute for pants and Ed Hardy apparel became the unfortunate trend to don in public. This time was very much the same as now in the sense that I forgot about dressing for myself and got lost in the trend of being like everyone else.

I went back to finding myself, with some assistance along the way. I made collages of looks I liked and placed them on a bulletin board in my room. I paid attention to details and carefully noted what I looked for in a complete ensemble.

I also watched movies, listened to various songwriters and stared at photos to better figure out what I liked and the common theme behind these outfits.

Throughout this experience I’ve discovered if you want to look or dress in a certain way inspired by another era or a person, you need to do it. You can do it!

Naturally, you’ll get people who don’t want you to or like what you’re doing. If you happen to be reaching into the discount bin for an unflattering blouse just because it is on sale, I’d listen to them. Don’t do it.

If you see somebody wearing an interesting pair of shoes and think ‘I’d like to try that,’ but are surrounded by others who say that you can’t pull off such a look, defend yourself and try out that pair of shoes. The confidence you get wearing them is just as key as the fit.
There will always be someone who doesn’t agree with your chosen aesthetic. This is normal. However, you should never surround yourself with individuals who constantly critique how you dress or put down that style.

There will be haters to the left, but a true friend will accept you for who you are, no matter how you’re styled.

In a shortened version of the above mentioned paragraphs, this is what I told my friend in the car last night. She’s already a really fantastic dresser, in my opinion, but everyone deserves to be encouraged with what they want to wear and how they would like to dress.
Consider me your personal cheerleader in this sense. I may not know you personally, but I’ll support you in whatever clothing phase you choose. All except for the “Jersey Shore” stuff.

Just back away now, and no one gets hurt.

Love to you all,


natalie said...

That was so great to read, and so true! :) There are definitely waaay too many Uggs and leggings as pants and Ed Hardy crap for my liking :P Dressing as an individual and not with the norm is sadly becoming pretty uncommon these days I guess :/

Dionne said...

I totally agree. So many times I look back and think "what was fashion thinking???!", so I like the idea of being original and dressing how we like, instead of hopping on the fashion converyorbelt and dressing to please others.

Anonymous said...

You are totally utterly completely right. 2 of my friends dress almost the exact same, and it annoys me, i think they should be there own person, but then again i probably just over react.
your article was really good by the way, if you wrote for my school paper i would definately read it.

Sadako said...

Wow, I love that you wanted to grow up to be Mary Lennox--I'm rereading Secret Garden and I feel like you just climbed into my mind. Your teacher sounds awful, though. Way to stifle creativity and make us into identical jumpsuited fembots, teach.

I agree that we should all have our own styles. Can I confess to sometimes rocking the Jersey girl bump? Not because I want to be a Jersey girl but because I love big bouffant-y hair. I'm not trying to look like Sookie, though...more like Ronnie Spector or Dusty Springfield.

I also like to rock leggings and skinny trousers, but I make sure I'm wearing a shirt that covers my bottom. I'm cheeky but I'm not THAT cheeky!

Wonderful post as ever.

Jaime @ La vie...J'aime said...

I love this- you are a beautiful writer! :)

Anonymous said...

Great post and great topic of discussion with your mate !

Dancing Branflake said...

I absolutley loved Mary Lennox and my American Girl was Samantha. I just liked rich people and lace I guess. Great article... thank you for sharing a part of your life.

Jennifer Fabulous said...

Fantastic article. You are very talented! And I love the photos you put with it. Lovely! xoxo

Amber said...

Great article. I can't believe that teacher of yours, what a jerk. I'm really down with the Oliver Twist/Artful Dodger look and I get a little crap about that from my boyfriend and the rest of my family. I don't go full out or anything, but it's fun to add a little Dickensian flare to my modern outfits from time to time.

I really love Matthew Weiner's son Arlo.

That kid is my hero.

Liya said...

you're a great writer, lady

Margaret said...

you write so incredibly :O read this post 3 times just for the awesomeness :)
thanks for the sweet comment xx

FASHIONconfectionairy said...

Thank you for your insightful comment, I agree people never seem to be concerned about being, well, just happy. And I like this post a lot, we should all be wearing Petticoats and corsets, my drea, seriously!

Romantic Heroine said...

oh, you're so right. it's like you're writing what I think most of the time. it's good to know I'm not the only one who thinks like this.
thank you. you're an inspirational personality for me! I love to read your posts <3

Anonymous said...

your article was brilliant! i was known as the girl in bright nylons and hats my freshman year of college. the way i dress has always been something i've done thoughtlessly - in the sense that i find what i like, wear it and to hell with what others say.

oh and the cheese conversation i overheard was about sharp cheddar and it's results on someone's bowel movements, consistency, smell... gross.