Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Consistencies Or One Size Fits All?

N. Marie's recent post about fashion reminded me of that one-time staple of the fashion magazine.

Some male (sometimes female) fashion designer (or artist or architect) being interviewed would turn out to wear the same thing every day. Not the identical thing -- his closet would be full of custom-made white shirts bought from one tailor who works only on an island off the coast of somewhere that I had never been and would never go. Same deal with pants -- Levis, some kind of bespoke shit. You get the idea.

When I was fourteen or fifteen I read these articles very earnestly. They told me how adult life should be lived.

I would read them and then I would look at my closet, full of remnants from one phase or another. A slightly dirty sheer floral print skirt would be on the floor and, in despair, I would throw myself on my bed, consumed by longing for a better world in which I wore the same thing every day.

I'd imagine for myself one thing to wear every day. It would expand outward (what about bathing suits? sometimes I might want to wear a skirt) and then I'd be thinking of the things I already owned that I really liked a lot and it would all, once again, fall apart.

You get older, and generally more tolerant of yourself. I don't feel that bad anymore about my lack of fashion consistency.

You also do, sort of, get mysteriously more consistent. You like the way you look in certain things, you buy more things that look kind of that way, people start saying things like "Those shoes are very you."

"You" in that sentence is actually "me."

You lose, to some extent, your belief in dramatic wardrobe change as an agent for change in the rest of your life and you feel sad about that. I want to believe there's a better haircut out there for me.

It doesn't all go away, though. One of the things I liked about the one-outfit designers is that it felt like they were saying, "This is me. This is how I look in a coal mine and this is how I look at a nightclub. This is all there is."

Because I am sometimes struck (like everyone else in the known world) by the fact that not only do you talk about different things to different people, but you act differently too. This frightens me; it feels like deception.

I have become tolerant of my style inconsistencies. They are all unified by me; I am the unifying force in them. But my inconsistencies of persona still worry me in the same way my style inconsistencies once did. I do not want to give up my option of gossiping and giggling hysterically, although it does not really go with my tendency to speak seriously about the right way to live or my (abstract) belief in discretion.

But I would like to have one manner. Preferably one crafted by a tailor you can only find off the coast of an island that nobody else knows about. Classic, but with individual flair.


Noko Marie said...

Behaving differently with different people has always weirded me out too. There's a certain kind of person who is a little quiet and a little reserved who always brings out the loud-mouth in me. I talk too much; I swear. Afterward I always feel disturbed by it.

The Secretary said...

I recommend a line of identical jumpsuits. Preferably with your name stitched on them. The jumpsuits should have mostly velcro fasteners. Zippers on the pockets are acceptable.

Captain Colossal said...

Sec.: Actually, when I imagined having only one outfit I often contemplated the Star Trek uniforms. But I always got hung up on the shoes -- I couldn't figure out what shoes to wear with a Star Trek jumpsuit.

N. Marie: I sometimes worry that my discomfort actually has more to do with disliking certain of my behaviors and trying to distance myself from them than the abstract problem of inconsistency.

The Secretary said...

That's easy. You wear the ninja boots that have a special split toe. Duh.