POSTED ON JULY 2, 2008:
The Natural Trend
Do-it-yourself fashion ethics follow no rules but your own
Little Miss Crafty. I have a friend who will drop by a fabric store and whip together a dress out of a great piece of fabric. Not fair. Perhaps you are like me, however, with no discernible skill for seamstressing.
I learned about nature versus nurture in a high school class. It's the school of thought that we are either born with certain instincts and actions or we are nurtured to have certain behaviors. Is a serial killer predestined to kill or was it something his parents did? Do tigers naturally know to hunt prey or is it an action he learns from his parents?
I can make any theory relevant to fashion. I have been a clotheshorse since I was a child. Is that because I was born into a hospital already filled with frilly dresses for me, had wonderful semi-annual shopping trips with my Nana and grew up leafing through beautiful catalogues filled with fancy designer goods?
Or, was I just predisposed to love all things textile, shiny and meant for wearing? Is my DNA encoded with the inability to think only so far out of the fashion box or was it something that happened throughout my life?
As much as I'd like to go crazy with fashion, I tend to be rather conservative. I hate to use that word; it brings up thoughts of that political party but also because when talking about fashion, it just seems dowdy, boring and plain.
Totally Geek to Totally Chic
I follow the crowd and the latest styles. I buy whatever the stores and magazines tell me to buy. As someone who's job it is to tell you the trends each season, I now take a step back and say, please try wearing something else.
Maybe it goes back to high school. This is when I really became enamored with clothing and "fitting in." I wanted the trendy clothes to keep in with the trendy crowds. You want your clothes to make a statement.
Take a look at any movie that takes place in a high school. It's never really an absolute accurate representation, but there is always a big distinction between the clothing of the "cool" kids and the "nerdy" ones, the "jocks" versus the "artsy" kids.
Today, it's basically down to two groups: the kids who try extra hard to standout and the kids who make it through the day unnoticed. Unfortunately sometimes it boils down to economics--the haves versus the have-nots. The kids whose parents can afford the trendy clothes buy the trendy clothes. And the kids who have less money think outside the box. This second group composes the kids who will eventually be starting trends because they aren't following the masses. These are the people I covet to be.
Because these are the ideas formed about fashion during our most formative years, it sticks with us throughout life, for the most part. This is where that whole idea of nature comes into play. Some people may grow up and want for what they did not have in their youth and may wear everything trendy. They may grow out of an awkward body phase and drastically change they way they dress, but for the most part, I'd say you sitting here today aren't that much of a different person stylistically than where you were as a senior in high school. If you were trendy then, you're trendy now.
No Thought Required
So, how do you revolutionize yourself by becoming what's not trendy? Well, it's kind of hard. The things I'm suggesting are in vogue or could become the verge of being in vogue.
You could construct a dress made from paperclips or bring back the fashions worn by the pilgrims. You might wear a powdered wig with parachute pants and see it on half a dozen people the next week. These aren't suggestions, but examples that it's a crapshoot to think outside the trend box. But it's better to be a leader and start a trend than to be out there wearing the same thing as everyone else.
Why did I pick three very random and bizarre outfits as examples? Because that's the sort of mind frame you need. Going against the crowd is a ballsy move; you have to be confident with yourself. You may be mocked or laughed at; people haven't matured too much since high school either. Being trendy takes guts and energy. It's why being trendy is so easy and why everyone does it--no thought required, no energy invested.
Start small by going through your own closet, mixing and matching things you would have never dreamed could be a possible combination. Mix in a combination not typically approached with current fashion trends and you have yourself something new. Layering different combinations are always an option, as is mixing different patterns. Accessories are also great trend setters. Great bags, great shoes and great jewelry are always incredibly valued fashion pieces.
You'll be hard-pressed to find something atypical in local malls. These commercial chains thrive on people wanting to fit in and look trendy. Instead, try Tulsa's vintage and thrift stores. Cheap Thrills (3018 E. 15th St.), Silver Screen Vintage (3232 E. 15th St.) and Deco to Disco (1508 E. 15th St.) are great places to check out vintage goods.
You'll find many items that look like the items currently in stores. Thrift and vintage stores have gems that look like they came right out of an Elle fashion spread. Dig a little harder or browse more thoroughly for items with some joie de vivre.
Pick clothing that seems less inclined to be in at the moment. Buy a pillbox hat or paper-thin gloves. And just because it's older doesn't mean it too can't be altered. It seems sacrilegious to tell you to destroy something that has made it this long, but with scissors, a seam ripper, buttons or more, you can make something entirely new that could continue a long, luxurious life, just in a slightly different package.
And while you have those sewing items out, you know you could always make something. Let's face it. This is very popular right now -- the D.I.Y. fashion ethic. If you don't believe me, you've clearly never visited the arts and crafts online haven Etsy.com. Many local creators are on this site as well as people throughout the nation.
While you shouldn't copy their ideas verbatim, it could get your fashion creative juices flowing. Visit local fabric stores and craft supply companies for the bells and whistles. I have a friend who, when she feels she doesn't have anything to wear, will drop by a fabric store and whip together a dress out of a great piece of fabric. Not fair. Perhaps you are like me, however, with no discernible skill for seamstressing. Baby steps, dear readers, this is all about the baby steps. You may not know how to sew on a button just as you may not know what constitutes as not being trendy. Remember that everything that is now trendy was once one person wearing something no one else was; what is now the norm was at one time totally brazen. You may discover skills you never knew you had-nature not providing you with sewing skills, but a trade that's nurtured.
I've planted a seed of something to try. Nurture a new way of dressing and I'm sure it'll feel like second nature.
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