To recap – we’ve all agreed: I’ll be dressing local and doing so globally – New York, London, Milan, Paris – n’importe où. I’m also determined –
To wear more bicycle-friendly fashion –
– and/or fashion that will hold up to the wear-and-tear of buses and metro trains. I’m not one to be precious about clothes (as many dogs and cats will confirm); but there’s no denying you can feel a bit self-conscious in, say, an ice-blue satin opera coat on a subway train or certain L.A. Metro buses. I mean, the Wilshire Boulevard line isn’t exactly the old ‘Bloomingdale’s Express,’ if you know what I mean. (It occurred to me that some of the Acne pieces referenced in my last post were versatile – and durable enough – to stand up to such exigencies, all the while projecting an air of relaxation and good cheer.) Bill Cunningham was predicting a flurry of flamboyant silhouettes for this past Tuesday’s New Year’s Eve parties presaging a resurgence of flamboyant evening couture and dresses in the months ahead, anticipating the Costume Institute’s Charles James show at the Met in May. But I’m not so sure. Look at his own (and other Times videographers’) documentation of constantly morphing street fashion. Also flamboyance doesn’t necessarily have to mean haute couture or obvious luxury. (Aren’t drag artists spectacular proof of this?) Any number of clubs downtown and in Hollywood bear this out on a nightly basis. And as I’ve said more than once – what is really the cornerstone of this blog – originality is the ultimate luxury. Creativity, personality, attitude, attitude, attitude – ‘go ahead’ (as the terminally stoned voice from that ubiquitous Acura RLX on-line promo needles us incessantly) – ‘future innovations are born from conversations.’ Well. You get the idea. Scarves (not too long) help; snug hats and hoods (keep a clear line of vision); not too much volume in the pants and skirts with an eye to shape and silhouette; gloves – we're going mobile this new year.
To consciously add color to the daily mix.
When your go-to outfits are virtually head-to-toe basic black, sometimes the only color in the mix is in the scarf or an accessory, and even that might be subdued. But what about a shot of fuschia or coral, or a flaming magenta or orange? A really neon bright or vivid floral color can make a silhouette really pop. It’s not just the resonance, the vibrancy of the color itself, but it makes the blacks seem even blacker, sharper. Orange may not exactly be the new black, but it might just make it a better black. Just an update on Coco Chanel’s advice: delete an accessory and add some color before you walk out the door. Fashion is about enhancing life – so live goddammit.
To embrace pattern (beyond stripes and camo).
It’s a never-ending game of catch-up when you get caught in the all-black uniform cycle of the terminal (or is it Terminator?) aesthete. Fashion has really already moved well beyond pattern into an ever more diverse terrain of complex quasi-kaleidoscopic photo- or digital-composite prints (e.g., outstandingly, Mary Katrantzou), deconstructed photo-scans (e.g., those Acne organza pieces I mentioned in my last post), retro- (or very neo – manipulated and juxtaposed) tie-dyed patterns i-Phone photos in various morphs (e.g., Zero+Maria Cornejo); to say nothing of myriad African, Asian, and various indigenous ethnic textiles that have been with us for a century and more. Or for that matter, our increasing willingness to embrace upholstery and decorative textiles in fashion.
In a way it’s a reflection of greater environmental sensitivity globally (better too late than never, huh?). There’s a continuity between the stuff we live in and the stuff that surrounds us. Camouflage is about obscuring the visual, scrambling the signal. Color and pattern are about making it sharper, more distinct. Pattern and prints bring it closer to the skin. I sometimes wonder if the prevalence of tattoos is at least partially about compensating for lack of color and pattern in the immediate surrounding space. And speaking of environmental sensitivity….
To prioritize sustainability in (everyday) fashion.
There are a number of designers who have been on top of this for some time – most notably, Stella McCartney. Look – most of us are going to succumb to fast and cheap fashion once in a while. It’s ubiquitous; there are some great knock-offs and capsule collections out there between H&M, Kohl’s, Target, etc., etc.; and once in a while a girl’s in a hurry or needs a quick change. But we can be smarter about it – checking to see where the materials or sourced, to look for up-cycling whenever possible, finding where and by whom (and in what conditions) the clothes are made. And there’s no more excuse in treating any aspect of the purchase in a slapdash manner than in the way the piece is ultimately styled. Don’t we have enough stuff already? And finally –
To embrace the mistake.
Okay – so I’m adding more color, more pattern, a multiplicity of ethnic elements, trying to make it bicycle-friendly, etc. – inevitably I’m going to wind up making mistakes here and there: adding something when I should be deleting; unthinkingly changing the color harmony (or clash) to something that just doesn’t work; overworking a pattern-on-pattern scheme (a very easy trap to fall into). I can’t tell you how many times, my shoes (and sometimes socks!) haven't been right for an ensemble, or a shirt or blouse doesn’t make it with a certain scarf – or anything else. Make a mental note and move on – or even be inspired it. It’s like playing music. You make a mistake, twist around a sequence of notes, play the wrong chord or a chord in a different key. And yet it somehow sounds intriguing, maybe … sort of amazing. You isolate it, play it with something else, improvise something around it; and…. voilà.
It’s about life goddammit.