Plain Jane? Non...

I've never been big on the idea of style icons as people anyone would want to look exactly like. 'Channelling' someone seems a vaguely weird idea, not to mention necrophiliac the way the magazines use it, because the idea of wearing a few items of expensive clothing or handbaggery according to the instructions in some magazine, the operative word here being instructions, just so I can look like another girl (or a dead woman, no matter how beautiful) from top to toe, is something I find irritating to the core of my soul. 'Wear X with Y to copy Starlet A's look!' 'Wear bangles to channel B's look at the premiere of X movie!' 'Wear this knock-off to score C's look at a tenth the price!' .........zzzzzzzzzzzzz....... ad infinitum. Or maybe it's not the idea that annoys me so much as the tone of the suggestions. There have been times, often enough, when I've finished watching a movie or found the hair ornaments of a person in a painting particularly worth looking at and hunted out some wearable or other that reminded me of it - and proceeded (with more freedom since moving away from home for college, thank god) to make it past the door of my room and out into the wide world with it on. I like to find my own inspirations, thank you very much, even if the fact of it isn't apparent to anyone but me- and the tone of the magazine recommendations, especially celebrity-based ones, is more often than not a bit insulting, or maybe it's just oversensitive me who thinks so. It's just that I have strong views on the subject, and copycatting someone else's look is hardly ever conducive to people developing style philosophies, if I may call them that, of their own. It just leads to the mentality that says "partywear= a little black dress, appropriate jewellery and strappy shoes, and how on earth can you ditch the jewellery and wear sneakers? My dear, you're so different"- which I'm not really, it's just that sometimes early ignorance of fashion and rebellion against a mother who believes neatly brushed hair is the most important thing about a girl's appearance, combined with a tendency to hang on to inexplicably beloved wearables like a terrier to a dead rat (apparently this manifested itself early on. My mum has stories of my toddler self wearing certain frocks till they fell to rags, and once she went to the drastic level of hiding one of my dresses that she'd gotten sick of seeing in the neighbour's house- only to be greeted with the sight of me, one week later, returning from aforesaid neighbour's house with the dress in hand, strongly convinced that Padma aunty had stolen it) make a combination that it probably takes a little looking at to get used to. And I do have moments of hey that looks cool let's try it, but the triggers for that are hardly ever the perfect pretty prettiness that Mum (and possibly a hypothetical magazine editor) think I should be by polishing up a bit. But the trouble with polishing is, it always rubs me the wrong way and is bound to hurt (a particularly painful episode last year involving high heels and hairpins comes to mind, and is unlikely to fade from memory- mine- anytime soon). So maybe the things I like about the looks of the people who inspire me, don't have as much to do with actual looks or bits of clothing, as they have to do with the way those things get carried off. A quality, if you will, that I wouldn't mind having. Till then, I'll just keep my beloved written-on jeans and weird hair, and find a way of being ok with looking like myself. Which, sometimes, I think I am.

PS: The lady in the picture is Jane Birkin, 60s actress and my original poster girl for How To Carry Off A Fringe Without Having It Eat Your Face (extreme beauty and simultaneous insouciance are a huge help), and mostly it's up there because posts without pictures feel funny.


Meg said...

You were lucky you liked your gladrags as a kid, my mum put me in things that still make me weep when I see the pictures now.
Jane Birkin is divine.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

I don't know if I mentioned it in the post, but Mum used to make all of them herself. That's possibly the reason for the garment love.

Anonymous said...

Ah well that explains a lot.

Nargess Gharani is actually Iranian but I think I've got to the point where I am willing to bring her in just to raise the stakes a little. Otherwise it's just freaking depressing.

Meg/the apathist

Anonymous said...

ps. I often wear dead lady shoes; vintage shoes pre-owned by people now deceased (or so I like to imagine, I am rather morbid)

Yohan said...

Hmmm. This is a new take on necrophilia, but not unlike my own postmodernist interpretation of the word.

I think everyone get clothing/style ideas from "celebrities" of one kind or another. We're just not very blatant about it, often combining more than one influence. No one is ever truly original, unless they make their own clothes!

Blue Floppy Hat said...

The dead can be quite a fascinating lot, even if you don't take into account the fact that they were often better put together than us.
The concept of vintage stores/secondhand clothes just doesn't exist in India. Maybe because Indians have a thing about not wearing other people's clothes?

Yohan said...

What about hand-me-downs? Doesn't everyone get family hand-me-downs?

[Why the change in URL?]

Blue Floppy Hat said...

No they don't, all people seem to hang on to, if they're like my grandmum, is senti value stuff and jewellery (which I mostly hate). I really have to dig around my grandparents' place for parent-generation wearables.
The url change is because I got bored.

Yohan said...

I had this shirt that my dad used to wear in his thinner days. It was older than me, but I loved it. It actually disintegrated, sort of.

Hee hee. I have a few shirts that belonged to my grandad as well.

Blue Floppy Hat said...

My favourite wearable was this big ugly blue-and-green checked shirt of my dad's that is starting to go threadbare in the cuffs and has had ink spilled on it more times than I can count. Being extremely unwilling to give it up (I've had it for five years now), I began wearing it with the sleeves rolled up last year. I honestly don't know what I'll do when it does fall apart.

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