Good Stuff: Fashion

In light of current affairs — Syria, rampant racism/sexism/xenophobia, our current presidential circus, lurking murder clowns, figuring out how to talk about sex with our kids — I’ve decided to run in the other direction screaming.

That's me. See the resemblance?

I’ll be back to the real world and dealing with things I have to deal with soon, but in the meantime, I’m looking at silly things that bring me joy. Like fashion. Now. The fashion biz is fraught with issues and privilege, and we know this. So, it’s important to approach fashion and shopping and dressing and observing all with a great big grain of salt. But… I think it’s also important to acknowledge that we all like to experience things that are beautiful and distracting in a number of different forms, and I don’t think there’s any harm in that as we acknowledge the pitfalls. Not EVERYTHING needs to be pragmatic.

I like fashion. I always have. I remember being very small—maybe 5—and getting terribly excited whenever my dad turned on CNN on Sunday mornings, because I knew “Style with Elsa Klensch” would be coming on.

This one's from when I was in middle school. Omg 1993 was so long ago.

I studied the runway clothes carefully, observing different style choices and listening intently to Elsa describe the latest from Karl Lagerfeld or Vivienne Westwood. I found fashion beautiful and artful, even as a tiny person, because there was something so meticulous about it. It was both out of reach, and doable. I couldn’t wear Vivienne Westwood, but I could request that my mother wrap my hair in ribbons like Boy George or allow me to wear my tutu as a skirt like Cyndi Lauper. Fashion gave me a sense of power. A way to set myself apart. A way, even as a 5yo, to assert myself. (Sidetone: Please read this beautiful piece "My Son, the Prince of Fashion" about a boy named Abe, written by his father. Trust me. You'll be so glad you read it.)

And so, 32 years later, I still pay attention to fashion. I don’t study it quite as carefully as I did then, because I don’t have the time to do so… but I take little gulps of it when I can, and I still find ways to reclaim my sense of self through how I present myself to the world. It’s small and it’s silly and it’s ultimately meaningless, but it matters to me and it makes me feel good when things are shitty.

Now, as I’ve said before, I don’t have a lot of money, so I tend to spend what little money I have (usually gifts for my birthday or the holidays) on pieces that will last. It might appear that I’m being irresponsible with my money (and I’m sure people think I am) when I waltz in in my leather jacket and announce that I can’t afford to go to the fancy restaurant for drinks… but I’m careful about what I choose to spend on, and where, so that I don’t have to buy the same thing all over again in a year. Yes, I spent $200 in holiday money on my leather jacket*, but it will last me (literally) for decades. Those $12 cocktails? They won't even last me an hour.

Because I have to be so careful about spending my money, I tend to buy big-ticket items once or maybe twice a year, and that requires research and careful consideration. ENTER FASHION BLOGS.

I pay attention to what’s in style and what’s available, but I also look out for classics that will be timeless and are worth spending a bit more on. I will happily pour through the racks at Value Village, where I've found several of my favorite dresses, and I refuse to spend more than $20 on a tee shirt, but boots? Those I will invest in when I can. Jeans are tricky because my sizeably luscious butt is hard to fit, and a lot of jeans now fall apart within a year. So I watch and listen to what the interwebs tell me about jeans – what wears well and what works in a variety of different situations – and then I'll look for sales or thrift store versions.

Since I don’t have much money and I’m currently lacking in brainpower and time that's all my own (howdy, parenthood!), when it comes to looking at fashion, I go for free internet pretties much of the time. Also it’s raining and I have cramps and I don’t want to put on outside pants to leave my house. But also, Internet pretties are both satisfying and have some distance, so it’s less likely that I’ll mourn something I really can’t afford. I can bookmark things for later and keep my eyes open for sales and deals and similar pieces that might cost less.

The point here is: I enjoy fashion, and I look at fashion blogs to fulfill a desire to observe beauty. Sure, it’s fun. It helps cultivate my own sense of style. AND, I use them to help me find pieces that are either affordable, copiable with thrift store/sale finds, or worth spending the rare money I get to buy an investment piece.

So, here are the blogs I look at (and a few that are newly discovered).

-Girl of a Certain Age:

-The Mom Edit

-Already Pretty

-In My Joi

-YouLookFab

-Faiiint

New to me:

-What I Wore

-The Sartorialist

What do you look at?

*Please note that I still acknowledge the screaming privilege in that statement. A couple years ago, that $200 would have gone directly to paying our bills and buying food, and it still wouldn't have been enough. And the fact that we receive gifts of money from members of our family is its own kind of privilege. This is not lost on me.

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