We are born naked and the rest is drag: a reminder

 

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’; the cliché that has been used since time immemorial to remind us that what’s on the outside plays no bearing on someone’s personality. However, this metaphor that emphasises the polarity of outside and inside encounters a grey area when it comes to the sexualisation of the female body, and consequently the clothes that supposedly reinforce a certain sexualised image.

There is no doubt that all of us at some point have decided whether we will or will not like someone based on their outward appearance. And as much as the saying warns us against it, judging a book by its cover is often a quick and time-saving thing to do when we do not want to make the effort of getting to know someone.

Indeed, being the cover that people judge a book by can also be a safe haven for those with low sense of self-esteem, as letting other people carve out an identity for you based on what you wear can often seem a more calming concept than having to present one defined version of yourself.

However, both by judging and in some cases allowing ourselves to be judged can have extremely detrimental implications, the former specifically being brought to the fore by the ongoing #metoo campaign. The campaign has exposed that latent in this notion of judging based on appearances, is the idea that the watcher is absolved of responsibility of how he perceives others or, more darkly, how he treats others. The tenet that ‘fashion is a means of self expression’ is appropriated in many instances by sexual predators, professing that ‘she asked for it’, or implications of the like; that the stereotypes of promiscuity and wantonness that have been artificially attached to certain forms of dress justify grotesque and violating behaviour. Moreover, this form of judgement only continues to perpetuate the antiquated notion that of female passivity and objectification.

Having become fascinated with drag culture in the past year, I have been inspired by the degree to which they embody the idea of what you wear (and the stereotypes that accompany them) being separate form the individual that wears them. Indeed, the supposed etymology of drag (dressed as a girl) emphasises that the ‘girl’, the traditionally ‘feminine’ clothes, make-up, mannerisms that a drag queen will generally adopt is a costume worn, rather than, necessarily an extension of personality .

Perhaps in this vein, it is thus unsurprising, albeit no less heartbreaking, that almost all men and women who wear ‘female’ drag undergo the same sexually violating ordeals from (mostly men), both gay and straight, as the majority of women encounter whilst on a regular night out. And as with cisgendered women, the perpetrators of sexual harassment towards those in drag justify their actions through transferring the responsibility of their actions from themselves onto the clothes that men (or women) in drag wear.

Thus herein lies the fatal error in synonymising someone’s personality with the behavioural stereotypes attached to their clothes. These notions of sexual promiscuity or wantonness are woven into certain garments more tightly than the sequins, patterns or stitching that adorn them, and exclusively so. The dyes of someone’s clothes do not transfer onto the skin of their wearers, and as judgers, the shame rests with us for thinking so.

 

 

 

Advertisements

AW/17 Trends: Charity Shops vs High Street

As the first installment of my charity shop experiment, I wanted to see if my local charity shops could deliver the same degree of trends that high street shops were offering – and I was very pleasantly surprised:

IMG_0376IMG_0407IMG_0400

In both charity shops I visited, the racks filled with bright pinks and reds are very much reminiscent of the ‘pink’ trends currently sweeping the high street and high end fashion markets, especially in more muted tones coming into AW/17.

IMG_0381IMG_0382IMG_0383

I absolutely ADORED this brightly coloured drawstring bucket bag – VERY retro and 100% fits the 90s trend of high-street shops such as urban outfitters, showing that secondhand can definitely rival high street when it comes to current trends.

IMG_0393IMG_0392IMG_0391

This gorgeous pink ruched dress is super on trend, and if i remember rightly, only £16, which is an absolute steal for a evening dress. I also thought I’d include a close-up of the LUSH fabric of the dress, which looked almost iridescent in the light.

All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed delving into the perhaps underrated charity shop scene of South-East Hertfordshire, and watch this space for a post on a few things I picked up on my (3 mile) travels xxx

Fast Fashion Challenge

My initial thought for this post was to write an article concisely yet humorously deriding the the superficiality of the fast-fashion industry. Yet as someone who has ascribed to the plethora of 15-minute trends offered by magazines, social media and high-street shops for the last 7 or so years, I concluded that such an article would make me in no more succinct terms, a giant hypocrite.

So instead, I thought it would be more worthwhile to, until the end of 2017, to challenge myself to only buy secondhand clothes. I’ve decided  to exclude buying clothes off of depop or eBay as whilst technically ‘secondhand’, I feel these sites still encourage the sustenance of fast fashion by facilitating purchasing of secondhand impulse buys from high street or high end stores.

I initially deliberated challenging myself to not buy any clothes for the rest of 2017, but decided that allowing myself to only buy secondhand would help my personal style evolve as I’d be encouraged to buy clothes based on style, shapes or colours that I would like regardless, so avoiding external influences from shop mannequins, fashion vloggers or style magazines.

Following this, I’m going to do a weekly post of outfits I’ve worn, as well as sharing instances when I’ve been tempted to buy something from the high-street, and then subsequent attempts to find alternatives in charity shops or find similar items in my wardrobe.

I hope to gain a more objective perspective on current fashion trends, and hopefully be able to fully see the influence media and the catwalks have on what we see as ‘fashionable’ and ‘stylish’.

V excited but also nervous so wish me luck! xox

lifestyle magazines: what are they really selling you?

If you have ever read any fashion and lifestyle magazine, male or female, you will be familiar with the glossy advertisements, the tear-jerking ‘real life’ stories and of course the standard 10-20 pages of the latest trends which will generally cost more than my $-year student loan. As a long-time reader of these types of magazines, I had often found the disparity between the lifestyle choices advocated in these magazines and my own baffling. However, during a talk by the editor-in-chief of Conde Nast Darius Sanai I attended a couple of years ago, in describing the success of the men’s magazine GQ, he emphasised how whilst the readers of his magazine do not emulate and cannot afford to replicate the lifestyle championed in the magazine, he asserted that people enjoy immersing themselves in a lifestyle they can only aspire to have, rather than one they can realistically obtain. This liberal sentiment of economic freedom and individual liberty championed by our society instils in people the belief that any and every hard-working individual should constantly aspire to create a better, more successful version of themselves. In this vein, the popularity of such ‘aspirational lifestyle’ magazines is unsurprising. Nevertheless, as a student whose recent make-up ‘splurge’ entailed a £17.25 spend at Superdrug, I find it tiresome being constantly sold a lifestyle that in no way correlates to her current one now. Whilst currently Elle Magazine’s top 12 summer dresses are championed at being priced ‘all under $100’, I am one of thousands of students who needs to take out a government loan because they can’t afford their £100 a week rent.  Whilst understandably it is demoralising to face the reality that you would probably need to take out a second mortgage to fund half of the clothes and make-up featured in July’s issue of Vogue, it is easy to forget that by selling the idea of a better lifestyle, you are implicitly suggesting that someone’s current way of life is inadequate. Being constantly sold a plethora of £50-100 ‘must-haves’ and ‘essentials’ personally doesn’t sit well when in the U.K., debt is at an all-time high, and many struggle to afford actual essentials such as food and rent. I am not saying that it is wrong to aspire for a better way of living, but it would be refreshing if once in a while a magazines’ beauty lifestyle and fashion advice could better emulate the lifestyles of its readers, rather than feeling you are always falling short of a way of life that for the majority, will always be unattainable.

Why ‘fashion versus style’ is far more than what you wear

As someone who (probably delusively) decided to take on three essay subjects for her levels, there was one particular phrase that was constantly drilled into me over that two-year period; ‘make your facts work to the argument rather than the argument to your facts’. The reason behind this, reasonably enough, is that, to an examiner, it becomes immediately clear when someone is trying to force content into an essay that doesn’t really fit the question – hence why it is much better to give yourself all the relevant information beforehand (i.e. revise), so you are able to write something at least half genuine. The same can be said for fashion versus style.  It is always apparent when someone is trying to make their clothes fit to what is fashionable rather than allowing certain items that are ‘in fashion’ to fit their current style. Everyone, however much or little fashion plays a part in their life has their own style whether you dress purely for style, comfort or a combination of both. Having said that, it cannot be denied that in our current society, it is often difficult to feel comfortable in your own style, as a result, judgement by friends, family, or most commonly, the media. Indeed, the appeal of adapting your style to what is in fashion is obvious; it acts as widespread, public validation of what you are wearing, instead of having to seek that from yourself if you wear something that hasn’t been heralded as a ‘must-have’ essential for the season, or god forbid, has been dismissed as ‘out-of style’ or unflattering. Societal expectations of ‘male’ and ‘female’ fashion are also large culprits. Men being told that pink is a ‘girly colour’, or women being challenged for not wanting to choose the most figure flattering piece in her wardrobe, and are subsequently frowned upon for wearing ‘manly’ or ‘butch’ clothing are demonstrative of the social dangers of expressing your style in a world that is laden with gendered preconceptions of what we should be wearing. Whilst Yves Saint Laurent’s ‘fashion fades, style is eternal’ is often accepted as a truism to deride the followers of fashion magazines and the like, it must be acknowledged that to find your own style in a world dictated by societal norms is much more challenging than is often given credit.