Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The Pros of Germ-X: peripherally on personal hygiene, mainly on sterility in Berlin street style

I’m digital again after a yearlong (to the day, and you thought I was sloppy) hiatus that saw the so-called Buttercup Curls of Sex, oil paint-induced highs, and sixteen hours of cumulative sleep if you count the time I spent reading Roland Barthes. TLDR, college as man-swallowing whale archetype. Also I was just kidding about Barthes. His cacophonous-word-to-sentence ratio is even more titillating than mine, and to that I nod my Again-Brown Curls of Getting To Second Base And Then Playing The Curfew Card. 

Anyways, now that I'm fresh out of theses about the loneliness of mortality as expressed in American Civil War portraiture to impose on profs who may have already experienced it in their lives without phrases like "bloodless in visage" to make it worse, I want to talk about clothes again.




*takes stump*
I’ve been in Berlin for four months and will be here till September. 


That means “surprise," a nod to the iconic Kinder egg with a piss-poor quantity of chocolate in one side and a toy of unknown merit in the other. Before you supplicate the matronly google translate voice for a pronunciation, it sounds like EWWW-bear-rash-uhng, and I nominate my general accountability as an unsustainably-packaged mystery in its own right.

You now get the disappointment privilege of unwrapping it.
To be transparent, this post has been a draft decomposing in Word since late March, and, unlike Pinot or Jennifer Aniston’s triceps, it has worsened with age. What you’re about to read is the self-indulgent fingernail clipping pile that is my now-outdated first impression of street style in the capital. It has since been extensively reviewed, hotly contested, and, finally, severely qualified by several thirty-somethings with unwashed skinny jeans and finger tattoos sitting--not with their ankles resting on the opposite knee while cognac wingtips jiggle languidly in the air, but definitely crossed neatly in pants-pissing prevention style a la the established male celebrity milking a televised dialogue--in the smoky back room of a secondhand bookstore-cum-salon.* This exchange will unfurl in posts to come.

Not pissing.

Not pissing.

Not not pissing.
*It was actually just me. 

I thought about writing a nice transition between my equally self-indulgent intro and the aforementioned pile, but then I just put quotes around the whole thing.

After a week here, I’m sold on sterility as the predominant feature of Berlin street style, as well as the mantra of what it has ever meant to be cool, ever. Sterile means apathetic. Toxic, devoid of humanity, allergic to enthusiasm. It means that if Californians like their jeans to hug, Berliners limit interaction with their trousers to a terse nod from across the room. It means wearing accessories as if for each one a fairy somewhere drops dead. It means exposed scalps. Black stuff. Upper frenulum piercings.**

 (**the first one of which I encountered in the unassuming gums of a counterintuitively smile-prone student while auditing
 a class in the art hist. dept. @ Freie Universität, a strong case for the wellspring of Berlin's hipster population. Image found here). 

From the no-makeup look to the no-torso-nor-upper-thighs look (see: black rapist trench), Berliners cultivate a harrowingly precise barrenness in their style that I find so cool because it both communicates self-sufficiency and, by extent, argues the existence of an immutable self that I want to know about. It doesn't want or need more than it is, which seems to be an abstraction of what Berliners believe it means to walk their streets, ride their trains, wallow in their dive bars. It is leather, dusk, and New Balance in very picky permutations, and its aesthetic of exclusivity begs a tourist-like inquisition into just what kind of separates make it into the proverbial Berghain that is a Berlin-based wardrobe.


Berliner Swagengeld, or swag money, candid via Le 21ème. Can confirm the trashcans look like tic tacs and spend time on poles.

Since I’m as of yet too intimidated by this ethos, however, to pop a Scott Squat roadside and solicit pics, I’ll try instead to describe a sweaty handful of the individuals that have caught me staring at them. The first jelly donut to impress me was buying deodorant.
Two days in, local interaction thus far limited to a taxi driver, a hotel receptionist and my 78-year-old homestay mother, I was highly impressionable to fashion in any form and encountered it reaching for the Dove underarm spray I have since learned does not smell like armpit but does smell like ass.

Its vessel, a scrawny girl my age, was clearly a subscriber to the no-torso-nor-upper-thighs look. Her black boiled-wool coat fell past her knees in a slow arc, as soy milk into müsli, a naked couple from a garden, or an ass from its youthful tautness, its curvature rendering her form more than slightly reminiscent of a turtle. But, like, a hundred year old turtle that has seen aquatic tragedies you could never imagine. Her black jeggings clung to her calves not unlike bae of 2011, and her Apollonian white Nikes brought the visual essay to a gratifying conclusion. 

Accentually, A sleek black box of a backpack levitated between her shoulder blades, and her hair was bleached spaghetti pulled into the most languid of topknots.
I here denote a languidness comparable to Cleopatra collapsed on a chaise lounge after leg day. It looked like it was concocted with both hands tied behind her back, maybe the coincidental occurrence of rubbing her head in a bowl of particularly autonomous hairbands. It was like a brussels sprout on the cusp of decay, the Enchanted Rose the Thursday before the Beast's 21st birthday bar hop. Actually, I think the most apt way to describe this topknot would be a photograph of a koala I found while browsing National Geographic the other day:

By National Geographic, I mean @fuckjerry's insta. 

Any fewer fucks and we'd have another form of retroactive contraception on the market.

Anyways, from the jacket's indifferent levitation around her body to the untainted theme of functionality uniting her nonetheless formally successful separates, homegirl's ensemble was the word I’ve been carrying around with me ever since like a barcode scanner and holding up to everything that moves for confirmation: sterile.
But the more I comb the streets for free wifi, the more storybook this sartorial narrative of sacrificial utilitarianism, of riches-to-rags, so zu sagen, admittedly becomes. The sleeved body bag, the geeky footwear of yesteryear, and some leather receptacle more formally akin to tupperware than what Gucci churns out are the uniform of the residential female twenty-something, and its manifesto of solitude is diluted en masse. Can minimalism become basic? 

Yeah, okay, COS, better question: Can a feeling--like the intangible quality of sterility that gives rise to minimalistic outfits--go the way of something fleshly like the Birkenstock fish, arbitrarily washed into the Mainstream, doomed to eventually encounter the Waterfall of Wedundancy? Or is there really something secret, inborn, and untouchable in Berliner taste that is not a trend but will always stylize the way trends are worn?

Because I do continue to sense the novelty of nonchalance in other details around here, like in canvas sneakers so rekt they must be catching bump residue from above, or the in Immutable Undercut of the German Youth, touched up between snacks and, behind Hefeweizen, the city's second largest commercial export (Myaß, 74). So maybe the word sterile and its connotation are staying, its denotation undergoing construction. 

The takeaway for now is that this city pares way down, and I was late to note that it works.

But only this past month arisen from the backwoods intellectual fermentation of Palo Alto, hungover on visions of yoga capris, North Face quarter zips and plush polyester onesies--any and all clothing that propagates the Western self-narrative of sexy-while-active, ready-to-fuck-on-our-next-camping-trip, etc.--can you blame me for being floored by an aesthetic that maintains it's cooler to look like the tent?


Wigwam vibes via Scott.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Perchance to Dream

If the Prince of Denmark gave us anything, it was a useful question to employ when facing an existential dichotomy. And I use it today: To buy, or not to buy? Before I advocate the latter, however, I present to you the alluring items in question.

Currently on my hit list:

A Woman Mullet

A party from all angles. 

Found here.

Via cooleasyhairstyles.com. I don't get the URL either.


Finger Tattoos

Because a finger will never swell to accommodate a nine pound fetus or take pizza too seriously. 

She started it. Got it here.

I'm sure the finger placement was arbitrary. Found in the bowels of Pinterest.

If a love strong enough for both Betty Boop and Jesus to make the pair a permanent fixture on your body doesn't indicate well-roundedness, I'm the Virgin. Found hurr.

Body/Booby Bondage a la Jean Paul Gaultier

Boy, does he know how to make the female body look like... the female body. 

Was almost affordable and is sadly no longer available. #shopbop

Probably not affordable. Probably not available. 



Runway images via tumblr

Wiener Shoes!

To wear in tandem with the previous in order to convince innocent passerbys that I'm a complex fashionista unconcerned with the binary gender role system. Duh. 

Thank you, 6pm.

John Fluevog deserves his own post.

Bonus: Free crotch-grabbing rights included. OW! Via shopbop.


Before you bare your plastic for such goodies, however, keep your wallet and your wits wrapped about dat cash and discuss the nature of this post with me.

So, I've made a shopping list. It's pretty. It includes a picture of Cara Delevingne, a haircut that could solidify my edginess for approximately four months before I decide to fix it, and a reference to male genitalia. Awesome. Somehow, though, the list itself is unsatisfying. It begs to be realized, concretized, purchased! Lest my attraction to them dissipates, I must go buy these things.

Or must I?

Cue the shoulder slump; I don't know. All I know is that I'm equal parts bothered and intrigued by the fact that fashion is, in large part, a monetary conquest, constituting another way in which it diverges from art. While a validating nod after prolonged examination of Michelangelo's David may indicate refined taste, similar aesthetic appreciation of a sartorial item--a bustier reminiscent of a cheese rind, say--doesn't necessarily translate to great style unless it's made a negative statement on your bank account balance and you're wearing it to buy your midday kombucha at the local health food store. Right? If you don't pay for it, your sense of style doesn't count.



Astride his own, smaller throne runway-side, Posen says in season 11 (repeatedly, actually, which makes me think he crafted this nifty little phrase himself and is quite proud of it and whips it out strategically in cocktail conversation to garner concurrent eyebrow raises) that fashion is a marriage of art and commerce--that the masterpiece of the designer exists to be both admired and purchased. So the question then becomes a progressive one--if fashion is the bastard of the starving artist and, well, his starvation, do we want to disown its heritage? Is it okay that designers don't produce beautiful garments for us to placidly ogle from afar, but for us to crave and pine after and eventually own? Can and/or should we reconsider what it means to be inspired by beautiful clothing, and if that in and of itself--no purchase necessary--can be enough?

At the end of the day, of course we have to buy, borrow, or steal something in the way of corporeal coverage, but why art? And why expensive art, at that?

Talk (skirt-y, shirt-y, controversially...?) to me.

Note: comparable to Marc Jacobs in gorgeousness and therefore credible. Via seventeen.com.

Also, you know what blows? Citing photos.

Monday, September 9, 2013

I can has inspiration? No. 2

Green on green on green? Don't mind if I do. 

By the way, these tidbits will henceforth be referred to as ICHI's (not to be confused with 'itchies'), and I will number them. The first one is here.

Tank by Hurley; shorts by Gap; shoes are Frye (and a favorite); bag is handmade (not by me, lolz); necklace by BCBG Maxazria.
No, I've never been an Egyptian goddess for Halloween, but evidently it's not too late.  
     In honor of Fashion Week?
Bye, guys.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Would you?

Allow me to explain the painfully seafoam, totally satirical atrocities you see above.

Months ago, I beautified some thrifted go-go boots with fabric paint, cheetah rhinestones, and the signature double C's in an attack on the consumerist tendency to assign value to shoes and clothing based on brand name; I think we (I) often forget that our emotional reaction to the shoe itself--not to the lettering on the side of it--is supposed to inform our purchase or non-purchase of it.

My point is this: repulsive as these mofos are, would you give them a second glance if you knew they came from the creative loins of Lagerfeld? I might.

Not to be doomsday or anything, but how are we supposed to know what we genuinely even LIKE these days if the logo is doing the work for us? Consider that as you feast your eyes on the circus stripes below. Don't be fooled by the acrylic insignia--they really are that ugly.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

When Function Trumps Form

Photo cred: my mama. The toes belong to a friend. 

What to do when the very articles you bought to ensure comfortable walking cause toe blisters to manifest during a hike up the tallest mountain in town? Liberate your tootsies, that's what. Because sometimes fashion-forward does a shitty job of actually getting you, ya know, forward.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

He really does wear Prada though.

Or Chloe. Collage? Mine.

I've always been smitten with fashion. As a kid, I didn't need to justify it; I sported hot pink corduroy slacks because they channeled Lizzie McGuire, and that was that. As my frontal lobe developed, however, so did my sense that I couldn't entertain a lifelong love affair with couture unless I could attach it to something substantial. I thought, if, when I die, God asks me why I chose to invest so much time in the study of clothing, I want to have a better answer than "because it's purdy." So I resolved to find one.

As an artist, I initially turned to exterior. Fashion is, after all, immediately visual. I likened the composition of an outfit, which requires sensitivity to basic aesthetic principles, to that of a painting, and I found some validity in the idea of fashion as an art, as a self-justifying articulation of beauty. I continued combing The Sartorialist archives and various online retail sites, feeling safe in the notion that, like writing and drawing, I loved fashion simply as a medium of human expression.

Now, though, I think this explanation is inadequate. My fashion-as-art model fails to account for every aspect of fashion that allures me; it fails to account, in particular, for what often feels like the most influential force behind my fetish: the awareness of an audience. I mean, yes, in composing figure-flattering, color-conscious ensembles to wear on my daily excursions, I derive a creative release comparable to what I feel when sketching or crafting an essay; fashion puts me in my element. This is true. At the same time, though, I devise each outfit with the knowledge that other people will be observing me and making assumptions about me based on what I'm wearing, and I admittedly thrive off the opportunity to lie. So, where art typically uses aesthetic value to induce meaningful human introspection, fashion uses it to induce shallow judgements based on an exterior. This fundamental difference is the reason I can't let myself off the hook by declaring, "oh, well fashion is an art!" I can't ignore the fact that I dress to impress.

Sometimes I think personal style can't really be considered self-expression at all, since some part of it will always be about other people. Even the renegades who claim to not give a shit about style norms are still making an argument to the public at large when they don fugly chic; it's just that instead of showcasing their fashion savvy, they're showcasing their superiority to fashion savvy.

But back to my question--what to tell the good Lord when he asks about my Frye fetish? In truth, I'll have to 'fess up to my own vanity; I'm attracted to clothing partially because it allows me to make a very distinct, very attractive argument about myself without words. When I wear my favorite ballet flats, for example, I do so intentionally, wanting people to think, "wow, that girl can afford high-quality footwear but has the propriety not to flaunt it." I ADMIT IT OKAY.

If I thought my attraction to fashion was purely narcissistic, though, I'd delete this blog. Which I'm not going to do. The fact remains that the way people wear clothing excites me in a way that feels transcendent. While there may always be a part of me that exploits designer labels for social gain, I'll forever appreciate folds of chiffon, supple leather paneling, destructed denim, and the works for their intrinsic beauty, the beauty they lend to the human form, and the creativity they manifest in combination.

Because dialogue > monologue, I'll go out on a well-worn limb here: why do you love fashion? What do you see as its redeeming qualities, and how do you justify its ugly side? Share.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

I can has inspiration?

I'm realizing that inspiration for my personal style doesn't have to hail from fashion-specific media like magazines and blogs, or even from other clothing-conscious humanoids that I encounter at Provo's most renegade coffee shop, which really isn't that renegade. Because I think I'm entitled to the occasional cliche as long as the majority of my content is somewhat original, I'm utilizing the following: INSPIRATION IS EVERYWHERE.

Writing that made me feel really uncomfortable.

No, but really. An example: this picture I took at Zion could translate into a bangin' outfit d'mixed genres. The silvery shmear glinting in the sunlight poses an interesting contrast to the more muted, rustic color scheme of the rocks; made me wanna pair some gunmetal bling with a granola sweater. Ergo, the composition you see below.

Sweater by Love Stitch; bag by George, Gina & Lucy; skirt from White House Black Market; spoon cuff and ring are vintage
Thumbs up to innovation. 

Disclaimer: Don't get too excited, I don't do the selfie thing. Often.