Tuesday, September 19, 2006

In which I play fashion cop

It was a glorious weekend yielding up a bumper crop of goodness: a haircut, a pedicure, a new winter hat, a pair of super-skinny Theory jeans, and all kinds of quality time with friends.

The wedding itself was gorgeous and the bride and groom the most relaxed bridal couple I've ever seen. Both were cheerily drunk throughout the reception, making charming and extravagant toasts over the speaker system, leading the guests in unusual group dances of their own creation, and looking thoroughly delighted and thoroughly in love at every moment.

However, the wedding gave me the opportunity to make the following observation:

Both academics and writers tend to dress badly. However, while the unstylishness of academics seems born of inattention, a lack of know-how, or a simple lack of caring, many of the young poets, novelists, critics, etc., in attendence were aggressively bad dressers.

What do I mean by this? Let me give you two examples (bear in mind that this was an evening wedding at a beautiful and breathtakingly expensive venue):
A woman in a strapless pink silk cocktail dress. Which she'd paired with casual, clunky, black suede boots that came up to her knees.

A man in a black suit, white shirt, and red tie. Which he'd paired with the grungiest, most beat up, disgustingly greyed sneakers you've ever seen--laces flapping all over the place.
People, that's not hip and it's not ironic. It's also not appropriate for the occasion. It looks as though your only thought was, "hey, I'm going to show that I don't buy into this whole oppressive 'dressing up' thing--I'm gonna do something REALLY different!"

No. Take a page from the groom: he was wearing a skinny vintage suit in brown velvet with an orange tie. Different? Yes. But that suit was beautifully tailored, and it and the shirt and tie all complemented each other and flattered the wearer. If you're going to dress to stand out, you must take more care--and know even more what you're doing--than if you're dressing to fit in.

(Interestingly, the one Truly Famous Novelist in attendance broke my rule by dressing more like an academic than like a writer: he paired a very nice suit and very nice shoes with a shirt in an unfortunate muddy green and a tie in an even more unfortunate abstract floral pattern, the like of which hasn't been seen since someone's 6th grade math teacher sent it to Goodwill in 1988. But then, TFN does teach, so. . . perhaps that explains it.)

Still, I wish I had thought to take pictures: Go Fug Yourself, Intelligentsia Edition. It's like shooting fish in a barrel, but even more fun.

4 comments:

Hilaire said...

I know, I hate that "I'm so anti-fashion" snobbery - even being anti-fashion (whetever that means) is pulling you into fashion's orbit, folks. I'm with you, Flavia - it's not hard to make statements, like the groom did, with some sort of panache.

What Now? said...

Do you read the blog Beauty Tips for Ministers? I know that neither of us is a minister except in that "priesthood of all believers" way, but oh my gosh, she's hilarious. I don't always agree with her fashion assessments or advice, but I always enjoy reading her posts. And she actually has a theology of personal aesthetics that I have found convincing and that may be moving me toward changing my own fashion ideas.

Quinn said...

Fashion watching is one of the best parts of academic conferences, I believe. While I am far from a fashionista, if we grade on a curve, I'm quite well-dressed... for a historian.

Quinn said...

Fashion watching is one of the best parts of academic conferences, I believe. While I am far from a fashionista, if we grade on a curve, I'm quite well-dressed... for a historian.