Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Describing The Motion

This won't surprise you: I think about fashion a lot. It will be equally unsurprising--you have a brain too--when I say that most of my style-related thoughts fall around the depth of "ooh that's cute" or "please get a haircut". (Yes, I feel guilty about the critical reactions, but my mind insists on producing them anyway.) Ideally I would walk from place to place making fancy observations about performative identity and aesthetic communication, but the reality is that I just sneak pictures of people's backpacks on the train.

Fashion particularly fascinates me because I struggle to sensibly articulate my feelings about it. Words are my forte, and being unable to use them to specify what I mean is like a having a loose tooth that I can't stop wiggling. I like certain styles and not others, but for the most part there's no logical reason why. And my tastes are constantly changing. Sometimes I can construct an after-the-fact narrative, e.g. "I like short skirts because they symbolize increased sociopolitical freedom for women," but that's not necessarily a true explanation of the process in my head. Any brief statement will be reductive.

I guess it's a bit like food--I don't need to explain my enjoyment of French fries. But I sure get a kick out of the classic Americana vibe. The burger plate can make me feel connected to something, something that I want to learn how to name. An aesthetic experience is difficult to encompass with language, but I refuse to believe that I can't do it. In the meantime, I can comfort myself with other media...

dancer in high heels, painting by Anna Poole

14 comments :

  1. You might enjoy reading Thorstein Veblln on the underlying meaning of women's fashions, particularly the high heel.

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    1. I bet I would! Something to add to the list ~

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  2. Dang, are you speaking my language! I'm really fascinated by forms of art that are embedded in our daily lives. Fashion, food, architecture, etc. are all around us. We can choose to dress, eat, and live purely functionally, or we can also use those actions as self-expression. I love the concepts, and I spent equal time thinking about how much I love them and how tricky they are to think about in a precise way. So I'm really feeling you right now.

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    1. YES. Personal aesthetics = the most interesting.

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  3. I think about clothes way more than is necessary for sure.

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  4. I always struggle to find reasons behind what I like and dislike, clothing-wise. There are some pieces of clothing that I adore, and others that I find horrendous, but I just can't pinpoint what about them gives me such an extreme reaction!

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  5. Heh, this is a great post! I know exactly how you feel ^_^

    At some point I just gave up and went with it - it's the same for me and certain positions/movements in ballet. Some of them I do and I'm just like WARGARBLOMGWTFLOVETHISSOMUCHARGHFLAIL, and others I'm all 'meh' about, or even 'augh! No!'. I have no idea why this is the case (outside, perhaps, the fact that am closer to mastering some than others, just like we love certain clothes because they look particularly good with our colouring, say ;-))

    Example: I will do arabesques all day, in every way, but assemble needs to get out of my life, LOL!

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    1. Glad to know you fancy dancers have the same experience! =D ;)

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  6. Very well stated! Sometimes I feel the need to have an explanation for everything, including my tastes. It's nice to just be able to feel with no expectation of oneself. Tastes change and morph throughout our lives, and what may have been relevant to one's personal taste just don't apply anymore. It can be exhausting. As for observations of the appearance and style of others, I have found that do something similar... more often than not I am admiring or maybe "fixing" what other people are wearing in my mind and altering it to my personal taste. It's something that I think a lot of people do, regardless of their acknowledgement to it. I also definitely regard it as a cultural thing, as well. American culture is very concerned with outward appearance, but not in the same way that Japan would be concerned, for example. It's all complex and I just like what I like. Some things just call to you or you call to it.

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    1. "It's nice to just be able to feel with no expectation of oneself." Amen.

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  7. This was a really fascinating post, and extremely well-written. Certainly one my favorites on here so far; well done you!

    I can relate to so much of this. Since doing that Bustle experiment, I've truly been trying to identify why I like certain styles, and not others. I could babble about how there is more mystery and allure to some traditional feminine cuts, than there is to a revealing, tight-fitted bodycon. But that's not *really* it. Sometimes there's no rhyme or reason, I guess.

    This bit made me giggle:

    "Ideally I would walk from place to place making fancy observations about performative identity and aesthetic communication, but the reality is that I just sneak pictures of people's backpacks on the train."

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    1. IT'S TRUE! hahah. Thank you. I look forward to reading more of your own insights!

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