Thursday, 18 September 2008

out of fashion

fashion week. yawn. i'm so not into fashion, to the despair of my teenage daughter who thinks she has the most boring mum in the world. actually, she may be right on that one.

it's not that i don't like pretty clothes. when i buy things for myself, i look for nice colours and styles. i like to co-ordinate my headscarves with my outfits, and co-ordinate my scarf pins too. i must admit to being terrible when it comes to shoes, don't bother to co-ordinate those at all.

it doesn't help that i hate shopping. i actually like the spending money part, and i like having new things. it's just the tedious wandering around shops and trying to make a decision part that bores me. which is why i tend to make quick decisions. if i like something, i buy it immediately without looking at what's available elsewhere. after all, time is money and the less time i spend shopping, the more time i can spend on something productive.

there aren't too many clothes i can buy in nz, as the short skirts, tight pants, t-shirts etc aren't things that i'll wear. and because i'm short, alot of the stuff just doesn't work for me - it a top fits nicely at the shoulders and waist, you can be sure the sleeves will be way too long. my favourite place for clothes shopping is malaysia - cheap and pretty, what more can you ask! i also enjoyed clothes shopping in saudi arabia when i was there a couple of years ago.

i've stopped doing jewellery altogether, mostly because i have sensitive skin that will break out into an awful itching rash with the slightest provocation. also because you can't see hardly any of it under the headscarf. and i find rings and bangles just seem to get into the way both at work and at home. of handbags, i have one practical backpack style, and make-up went out the window a few years ago.

so, no wonder i have little interest in fashion week! there are very few clothes that i would even consider wearing. most of the stuff looks so outlandish that i can't imagine other people wearing it either. the models are so far from my body shape that i can't imagine those flowing lines looking good on my frame. i'm sure the same goes for many other women.

my biggest objection to fashion week though is the consumerism behind it. i just get really annoyed by the amount people are expected to shell out for labels. yes, i know a lot of work and effort goes into the design of clothing, the selection of fabrics and colours etc. but i always think of the opportunity cost. this is money that could have been spent on something productive, like irrigation projects in poorer countries, or on medical research to cure serious/terminal diseases.

but even if you're not into those nobler motives, keeping up-to-date on fashion means you have less to invest for retirement, less to build up your capital base and ensure your financial security. this is an area where women are considerably worse off than men, and if we stopped spending money on fashion, make up, beauty products and procedures, we could at least start to change that trend.

i hate the waste of it. fashion constantly changes, so that clothes that could otherwise be worn for several years (it's not like they aren't pretty or practical anymore) are discarded much sooner because they're out-of-date. in a world of limited resources, constantly changing fashions are just not environmentally friendly.

then there is the whole competitive mentality that the fashion industry engenders. it's about being one step ahead of everyone else, about showing off and feeling superior. i'd love to see a world where we had a stronger sense of community, where we identified with each other as friends and allies. it's just a little bit harder to feel friendly towards a person when you're competing to see who has the best, the latest, the most expensive wardrobe. it's harder to identify with her troubles or care about her well-being when you're looking down on her lack of fashion-sense.

as i said at the beginning, it's not that i'm against nice clothes and looking good in what you wear. i guess it's the obsessive attention to ever-changing fashions and designer labels that just doesn't work for me.


Hugh said...

I'm always reminded of the words of Oscar Wilde, who said "fashion is a form of ugliness so terrible it must be changed every six months".

Anna said...

This reminds me of ex-expat's post a few months ago, where she spoke about a lady suit making a comment about her dress which sounded like a compliment but wasn't. To me, that's everything that's wrong with the fashion industry!

People are aesthetic creatures and that's just fine, but dressing up and looking nice should be fun and celebratory, not an opportunity to put down other people.

Violet said...

I enjoy fashion even though I am, like you, short and find it hard to get stuff that fits properly. I agree with you in that the pressure to frequently replace bits of one's wardrobe just because it's out of fashion, is wasteful - of money, resources, energy etc. But perhaps designers can't make a living unless they can convince enough people to buy their clothes every six months.

Craig Ranapia said...

Hum... now here's the kind of fashionista I like:

"I buy most of my clothes at agricultural shows, and good stout things they are. After agricultural shows, Marks & Spencer is the place to go shopping, and then Paris. Nothing in between is much good. At four score years plus properly made clothes should last to the end -- or that is my excuse. So forgotten French works of art come out of the back of the cupboard (mixed with Barbours and Derri Boots), still beautiful and always comfortable, which is my idea of what clothes ought to be."

Two snaps up to the Dowager Duchess of Devonshire (nee Deborah Mitford)!

Azlemed said...

I like some parts of fashion, but more the making side of it, I make my own clothes to get stuff that fits nicely, I am too short, with big boobs which doesnt fit the standard criteria for shops.

I would more like to see women being able to dress for their shapes and in styles and colours that flatter them, trinny and susannah do a good job at this, I also like Gok... his show inspired me to have naked photos done last pregnancy which was really great.

Deborah said...

I go for plain lines, and plain colours, maybe even classic stuff,w hich means that I can wear lovely garments for years. And I do. My favourite dress at the moment is one made by Angelina Harrington, a Wellington designer, which I got three years ago in a sale. I figure it's good for quite a few years yet.

I always get confused by fashion items talking about "this year's version of the classic black dress." Excuse me? If it's classic, how can there be a "this year's version"?

Carol said...

I find the fashion industry and the likes of Trinny and Susannah focus on a normalising kind of femmy look. At least by my standards. I prefer a more androgynous look.

Anonymous said...

It's all very well having people like Trinny and Susannah telling me what shape to wear but often that shape is not in fashion and there is no way short of employing a tailor for me to actually get the recommended garments.

Anonymous said...

How about this woman who wore the same dress for a year "a year-long performance project. 365 days. one brown dress. a one-woman show against fashion."

Azlemed said...

I just found a really cool way to get around fashion...

The aotearoa clothes swap... way cool and such a neat way to save money/declutter your life.....