"The most beautiful makeup for a woman is passion, but cosmetics are easier to buy."
                                                                                              —Yves Saint Laurent

If you're new to this blog, then read our guides to the basics: Skin (Part I), Skin (Part II), The Supernatural, Color Theory I, Color Theory II, Eyes, and Brushes.

Also, check out the blogsale.

· Fashion Notes: Inspirations (Anne)

Art Tattler
the glamourai
The Non-Blonde
Perfume Shrine
Lisa Eldridge
Garance Doré
Smitten Kitchen
Into The Gloss
Grain de Musc
Res Pulchrae
Drivel About Frivol
The Selfish Seamstress
Killer Colours
Bois de Jasmin
Glossed In Translation
Jak and Jil
Toto Kaelo
Worship at the House of Blues
I Smell Therefore I Am
Food Wishes
The Natural Haven
Messy Wands
1000 Fragrances
Moving Image Source
The Emperor's Old Clothes
M. Guerlain
Colin's Beauty Pages
Barney's jewelry department
loodie loodie loodie
The Straight Dope
Sea of Shoes
London Makeup Girl
Sakecat's Scent Project
Asian Models
Ratzilla Cosme
Smart Skincare
Illustrated Obscurity
A.V. Club
Tom & Lorenzo: Mad Style
Eiderdown Press
Beauty and the Bullshit
La Garçonne
Flame Warriors
Everyday Beauty
Fashion Gone Rogue
Now Smell This
The Cut
A Fevered Dictation
Nathan Branch
101 Cookbooks

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

Fashion Notes: Inspirations (Anne)
by Anne

In order to be “well-dressed,” the consensus goes that one must cover one’s face in obliterating spackle, wobble about unsteadily in heels that limit one’s stride, and wear miniskirts and pantyhose in winter. Simply put, “beauty is pain,” or at the very least annoyance, and unless I did nothing all day but stare at myself in the mirror, I couldn’t reap whatever aesthetic benefits I gain by conforming to someone else’s idea of perfection—or even my own idea of perfection. And I’ve always been as obstinate as a mule, refusing point-blank to move at any pace but mine or make an effort at doing anything I don’t truly want to do. It’s more important for me to feel comfortable in my own body and in the clothes that I’m wearing than it is for me to look good.

This means that I’m probably one of the least fashionable people you’ll ever meet: I always err on the side of casual, rarely suffer high heels, wear my few favorite outfits to death, and still cling to my bootcut jeans and trousers from the 90’s. I do whatever is necessary to be considered presentable, and not an iota more or less. I need clothes that flatter, especially because I have the kind of figure that is difficult to dress around, but beyond that excessive embellishment is unnecessary: in my opinion, clothes don't have any business attracting undue attention to themselves, away from their wearer. I suppose this is the reason why I don’t really lust after designer clothing or keep up with the runway shows: ignoring the sour-grapes-factor, much designer clothing either tends to dwarf the wearer in its outréness or telegraph, by its own preciousness, its own elevation from quotidian concerns... and while I really am a snob at heart, I would rather not look like one, or at least not so openly.

So it seems like great audacity or even hypocrisy on my part to dare write about style, and it is difficult for me to name a single designer, movement, or even aesthetic that has made an impact on the way I dress, or even on the way I imagine I'd like to dress. My preferences change little even with increased exposure to sartorial possibilities, but the more I see, the better I know what my own tastes truly are. To this day, I still don’t quite know what I really like, much less my reasons for liking what I do, though I have realized that I keep coming back to the same themes. Possibly I’m driven by nostalgia—many of the influences I cite have their roots in childhood memories—or possibly I’m working myself into a permanent rut that only grows deeper as time passes. It's as if my tastes were predetermined and all that is left to do is to refine and streamline my habits accordingly, stripping away everything that is not truly necessary to my own satisfaction. It is this process of self-discovery that is the whole point; I am too narrow-minded to take an interest in anything else.

When it comes down to it, people dress for the benefit of others, and though it is true that well-dressed people are usually treated better, a certain saturation point is reached once you've done what's required to look decent and clean and “put-together”; beyond that point, no one is going to care. And “put-together” usually means dressing in some incarnation of a classic preppy style, derived from the dress of what was once the New England upper class, itself derived from an idealization of the dress code of the English elite. It’s an aesthetic characterized not by outlandish cuts or a dizzying turnover rate for trends, but by subtlety and close attention paid to fit, details and the quality of materials. Each person wears much the same thing as every other person of comparable class and situation, and there is very little departure from core basics in terms of styles and cut, so there is a certain kind of security to be found in anonymity and conformity, but somehow, the garments seem entirely personal to the wearer, managing to flatter without stealing the stage for themselves. These are the kind of clothes/outfits that I want to live in: I could throw them on in the morning unthinkingly and count on looking polished and at home in almost any milieu. (French-chic, which has admittedly become something of a cliché, is also a similar aesthetic, but more urbane and youthful, and less hidebound: APC's seasonal lookbooks, or Emma de Caunes looking sexy in nothing more than a basic buttondown in a brilliant emerald green that sets off her tawny skin.)

Understated good taste and a reliance on basics, however, can never entirely take the place of drama. I need drama to satisfy the extremist streak within me, the part of me that likes red lips and listening to Wagner and reading Ayn Rand, as well as to balance out my (for an asian) broad frame and curves: I look ridiculous in cropped tops and dresses over pants—like a middle-aged woman trying to appear "cute" by dressing like a teeny-bopper and fooling no one—and outright trashy in miniskirts—like Jennifer Lopez cast as a Van Nuys streetwalker in some hypothetical movie. I need long flared trousers, sleeves of a decent width, and voluminous skirts to accomodate my long and well-fleshed limbs, and cowl necks, scarves, bateau necklines, and wide collars, with a crisply-defined shoulder to balance out a broad hip, all centered around a defined waist. Calvin Klein's couture pieces seem to best embody this charismatic and slightly masculine quality I seek. (I couldn't find the exact image I was looking for, which featured a long slim-cut black coat with wide sleeves and an oversized cowl-neck: the material seemed to soft but heavy—possibly a knit—judging from the way it draped and clung to the body. The velour blazer shown here is a decent substitute.)

The accoutrements of ballet, for which I nursed an obsession throughout childhood and beyond, also satisfy this hunger for theatrics: stage makeup, skirts like floating clouds of tulle, satin ribbons criss-crossing slender ankles. Yet despite the romantic excesses of performances and stage garb, the behind-the-scenes lifestyle of ballet dancers is one of simplicity, rigor, and almost Spartan discipline. The (not quite healthy) emphasis on ethereal slimness, sleek uncomplicated hairstyles, and a clean uncluttered silhouette puts the focus on the contemplation of movement and the human form itself. I'm not built like a ballet dancer, but I aspire to the same aesthetic, where the body being dressed is the centerpiece of the look and any superfluous ornament is eliminated.

It is this palate-cleansing simplicity that is necessary to balance out the aforementioned theatrics in an outfit, which like any performer, needs respectful quiet in its surroundings in order to perform at its best. Minimalism is really a form of luxury in its own right when taken to extremes (even the Spartans of antiquity had to rule a slave class that outnumbered them 10 to 1 in order to finance their extravagantly austere lifestyle). Song Hye-kyo is dressed in an outfit of utmost simplicity and minimal fuss: the fluid lines of the jersey and sweater coat and the interplay between beige and black provide a backdrop for the oversized and highly-textured cowl-like scarf.

In contrast with the high-strung elegance of ballet, my sartorial memories of childhood can be summed up in two categories of considerably lesser sophistication: eighties, and polarfleece. In Korea, I am considered part of the “post-Olympic” generation—born too late to witness or remember the 1988 Seoul Olympics—but I inherited 80's fads and culture from those who had lived it, stripped of all the trashy flamboyance notorious to the decade and grown soft and manageable like a hand-me-down pair of jeans that the previous owner had broken in—eighties-lite, if you will. Boxy t-shirts and jackets worn with slim jeans, in primary colors (my brother calls them "Lego colors" and "Rubik's Cube colors"), my cousins' pirated copies of trashy manga, my mother relaxing in leggings and oversized buttondowns belted at the waist, Sophie Marceau as a teen just beginning to discover romance in La Boum, whose tomboyish ways do nothing to mask her (natural) beauty. Childrens' clothing tends to fall about five years to a decade behind adult fashions and I myself wore leggings with sweatshirts, Flashdance-style, until the arrival of the noughties. It's a shame that the current so-called “80’s revival” completely ignores all the things I loved best about the decade, the sort of playfulness that can only come from childish innocence or ignorant stupidity. I would have liked to see the return of a more angular, better-defined shoulder in particular, as well as a certain emphasis on the mature female body—all those hard shoulder pads needed feminine curves as ballast.

My other fond childhood memories are mostly about frequent hiking and canoeing field trips, when I lived in the Bay Area. We wore light, warm polarfleece jackets and windbreakers over t-shirts and cargo pants or shorts and sneakers. One can imagine there wasn’t much room to put on airs; the most you could do would be to tie your scarf a certain way, get a dexterous friend to braid your hair (I was the only girl in our grade who could French-braid her own hair), and make sure your sweatshirt and fleece didn’t clash. We also wore stud earrings, charm jewelry, and string friendship bracelets (it was the 90s), all in a variety of designs that were surprisingly delicate and tasteful, while Lip Smackers were popular to ease lips chapped by the salt sea wind (my favorite was Pink Lemonade). We were still only children, so we were free of the insecurities and status anxieties that would taint similar pursuits at a later date; all that fueled us at the time was a love of pretty things and the desire to put our best foot forward. We may have never had it so right about style as we did back then.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

5/13/2009 [8]

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]. Or
follow on bloglovin'. If
you'd like to contact Dain,
feel free to email me.
I'm also on Pinterest.

The Mnemonic Sense
Most Wanted
The Beauty Primer
Consumer Diaries
Closet Confidential
On The Label
Beauty Notebook
The Hit List
Color Me In
The Makeup Artist
Wedding Bells
Globe Trotter
Desert Island

perfume notes
beauty notes
fashion notes
culture notes

chypre arc
floral arc
fresh arc
masculines arc
   & orientals arc

August 2008
September 2008
October 2008
November 2008
December 2008
January 2009
February 2009
March 2009
April 2009
May 2009
June 2009
July 2009
August 2009
September 2009
October 2009
November 2009
December 2009
January 2010
February 2010
March 2010
April 2010
May 2010
August 2010
November 2010
December 2010
January 2011
March 2011
August 2011
September 2011
October 2011
November 2011
December 2011
January 2012
February 2012
June 2012
July 2012
August 2012
September 2012
October 2012
December 2012
January 2013
February 2013
March 2013
June 2013
July 2013