Friday, May 01, 2009

Multiple fashion personality

It occurred to me, when thinking about how I shop, that it never comes down to something as simple as, 'Oh, that's cute.' Nor, however, do I try to match the potential clothing with already-owned items, as in, 'this shirt would go with those pants.' I mean, I do that, but it's a bit more involved. I have several visions for what the perfect outfit would be, which are explained, in more detail than needed, below. While in practice, I mix and match according to what's clean and on the top of the pile/drawer, in theory, each time I leave the apartment, it's as one of the following. In no particular order:

1) The Swiss or Northern Italian tourist, from back when European tourists weren't everywhere. She's upper-upper-class, heiress to a mozzarella fortune. Her look is a bit Upper East Side matron, but distinctively European. (No yoga pants or puffy white sneakers.) For this look, I wear white jeans, my green plaid fleece jacket, my (mother's) dark-red elbow-patch blazer, my new flats from the Repetto sample sale (these, but dark brown leather, not blue suede). Items I do not own, but that would fit with this look: a dark green or navy quilted light jacket, a thin tortoise-shell headband.

2) The Marais denizen circa 2003: There was this one street in the Marais, when I studied in Paris way back when, where the color scheme in all the glowingly unaffordable boutique windows was black-gray-neon. Everything was black or gray, mostly black, but with neon-pink, usually, accessories. It made quite the impact: for this look, I wear my H&M (circa 2004) motorcycle jacket (black fabric, not leather) with black or gray pants, zipper-in-front-and-back black leather mini-boots (more boot than bootie, but between the two), hot-pink or bright-blue nails, and my Uniqlo neon-pink jersey scarf. I love the color pink, but am very particular about which shades. (For this look, think Zana Bayne, but with occasional flashes of neon-pink, -blue, or -purple.) And silver-colored jewelry, if any. Of all the looks, this is probably my favorite.

3) The glamorous Woman. Meaning: the pencil skirts, the turtleneck dresses, red nails, black leather boots (the tall ones without weird zippers), and avoiding wearing The Backpack, a huge, fast-disintegrating relic of Eastern Mountain Sports circa 2005, typically filled with library books and papers, half of which I didn't really need to bring to campus. Tights (better yet, Spanx), not leggings.

4) The Minimalist (Mark Bittman, don't sue me): jeans, white t-shirts or tank tops, black t-shirts or tank tops, gray t-shirts or tank tops, and ballet flats or boots, depending the season. This is how I actually dress, 80% of the time.

5) The 2009 conformist: What can I say? I like some of today's trends. Not all, but some. For this category: black leggings (which I wear, yes, but not as pants), my Uniqlo plaid flannel shirt. What I used to wear of this look, but either thought better of or lost track of: gray skinny jeans (realized they were a bit too low-rise, so, so much for that), black-framed St. Marks Place wayfarer sunglasses (congrats to whomever ran off with that $6 pair two summers ago; or, I lost them).

6) The space-age lunatic: This is where Shiny trumps all. In this category: my silver Pumas, my space-age dark blue Japanese Pumas (the one good thing to come of all my visits over the years to Barneys Warehouse Sales - they're probably six years old and still amazing), the silver lamé leggings I wore exactly once, the shiny silver leggings I've worn slightly more than once, silver-glitter nail polish, silver-colored... you get the idea.

7) The High JAP: You know how there's High Femme? Why can't there also be High JAP? If money were no issue, I'm not totally sure I wouldn't get the occasional French manicure and Japanese hair-straightening treatment. However, I'm hard-pressed to think of anything I currently own/do that fits this mold. (Using a hair iron on a DIY haircut doesn't count.)

8) The looks I like but never follow through with: These include: Mod, Japanese pop star, gigantic-pants-wearing Tel-Avivian (and again), and many more I'm now forgetting.

So, um, is this weird?


Jennifer said...

No! Not weird at all! I have to admit, while reading this post, I'm thinking, okay, I am exactly the same way. Not exactly to the point where I've figured out that I am heir to a mozzarella fortune, but there are certain distinct types of looks I try to put together and which influence my shopping:

1. Melissa C. Morris preppy. This usually works best when worn in areas that are not already swimming in a sea of prep. Like Homewood, Illinois.

2. Wicker Park hipster, from back when Wicker Park wasn't indistinguishable from Lincoln Park.

3. Eugene, Oregon bohemian, wherein the bra is optional, and earrings are dangly. This look rarely leaves the apartment, but is good for days spent writing/editing.

4. Funky librarian. This is when a teen program provides the perfect excuse to whip out the Betsey Johnson skull tank (Rock Band tournament) or the side ponytail (80s night).

5. Published author on the way to a signing/school visit. Glamorous yet approachable. A combination of 1 and 2, plus a lot of Theory.

Dana said...

I am so boring. I need personas. So far, it's whatever's comfortable, or reasonably stylish for business casual. Occasionally, I might classify a look as "feminine," which is not necessarily inconsistent with business casual, but rarely ever goes with "whatever's comfortable."

My makeup has a look though. It's "I'm not fucking Lucy Liu, so don't rag on me for wearing winged eyeliner and red lipstick." I do tend to look more pulled together wearing a fleece jacket and jeans than I would otherwise, though. I must think about and create my personas. I will report back to you on this one.

Phoebe Maltz Bovy said...

Jenn (assuming this is Jenn; otherwise, Jennifer),

Glad to know I'm not alone!


I don't think this means you're boring, just that you have your own style, and that you look for things that are 'you', rather than that fit into one of several distinct personas.

kei said...

I'm pretty sure this is not weird, but awesome. Moreover, I think it's impressive to be able to identify your many fashion personalities. I'm also not sure if I can label my personas. I do worry sometimes though how obvious it is that I shop at American Apparel (which I do) or hang around Wicker Park a lot (which I don't do), so perhaps this is a good time to think about it some more.

P.S. I'm at the Regenstein right now, it's like the good old astrophysics days when I first started commenting on your blog from the Reg or general Hyde Park area! :D