Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Playing dress-up

Yesterday I went and did some errands, and was still feeling kinda down, so I went and browsed through Anthropologie. I almost never do that --- and I'm quite proud of myself that I didn't try anything on or buy anything just weeks before packing and moving all my stuff cross-country --- but this time I looked about, and I was surprised by how much stuff I liked. I love the idea of ruffles and complex constructions and general girlyness, but can't stand to wear it. In real life I am very plain and unfussy --- any jewelry, I'm going to get caught in something. Any ruffles or bows or loose floaty bits hanging off me are going to get me very nervous and I'll be fidgeting at it. Any patterns and I will instantly feel like I am standing out too much in the crowd and will be stared at. Any flower prints and I will puke.

So I was surprised that I really liked a lot of the stuff in the store. A lot was with the feeling of, "oh, this is so not me, but it is gorgeous!" or, "Ooh, I hate that color and yet the garment is so interesting!" or even "Ooh, ugly! In that fashionable, twee kinda way! I wish I could go for the ugly look!"

Today I did more errands and stuff and now am passing the time with this thingy I have seen some fashion bloggers use called polyvore. I thought it would be fun, like playing with dolls and window shopping without the effort of putting on clothes or paying for anything. What's interesting is that it's actually very hard. I may have a good eye for what's interesting, but I have no skill at putting an outfit together, which explains why I have trouble buying things and getting dressed.

So first, let's see just a jumble of all the stuff I liked:
rFashion Trends & Styles - Polyvore

Find me on Polyvore
See the problem? Even if you ignore the fact that I can't fit into any of their pants and so I didn't add them, I don't have any outfits here. I also tend to buy/choose tons of stuff in my favorite colors but then they don't work together or contrast well enough to wear them as an outfit.

It also made me realize why they have all those shitty boring noncolors out there; you know, the "brown" that you're not sure if it's gray or not and it's really not a color at all, maybe it's mouse brown or something? Well if you want to layer loud colors with something not loud, you need a white or a taupe or a mouse brown. Interesting. I will ponder that. I also noticed while culling through the anthropologie website that all the fancy fussy little things like smocking or embelleshments or draping don't show up on darker colors --- which makes sense. I tried to knit patterns in some of my favorite darker colors like navy and it was just pointless, you couldn't see all the detail. For example, here are two colors of the dimpled cardigan at Anthropologie:

Why you would want something that has been named "the dimpled cardigan" is another post entirely.

Third, I noticed that if you want to have some sort of embellishment or 3-dimensional thing up at your neckline, you can have it either on a shirt or on a top layer like a coat or sweater, because if you layer something with embellished flowers on top of a big poofy set of pleats or ruffles, you will end up having the weirdest lumpy profile. And at this point I just about gave up again, because that means I have to either pick ruffly tops or ruffly cardigans, or buy so many shit-tons of clothing that I can mix and match without constantly going "dammit! there's too much poofyness in the clothes I want to combine today!"

This may put me back off fashion. Of course, the prices on all the fancy twee clothes I like put me off it too.

Finally, trying to match up outfits on the computer, even with a program like polyvore that makes it easier for you, is nothing like the ease of running back and forth inside a store to hold things up next to each other. I have to do actual coding and cutting and pasting and it is not quite so fun as shopping or playing with the dolls of yesteryear. But still, here I am trying out the program and my outfit-making skills:

As you can see I don't really have the hang of getting rid of the background blurs yet. To say nothing of my attempts at taste.

And to assure you that this has not completely become a fashion blog, I have to wonder, in relation to my earlier request for some theory background, how all this participatory creation --- whether it be making outfits in polyvore or fashion blogging or uploading photos of yourself in your outfits --- relates to Althusser's concept of interpellation? Who's calling? Who's answering? Are we interpellated today much more often and more securely through consumption than the State? How does the participatory, creative aspect of self-fashioning work in with all this?


magisterludi said...

you have called me into being as a bloggy agent with this post. i lurve that outfit! a participatory testament to how gleeful greens and oranges make me: i wore a green sash with my wedding dress and my gals bashed about in persimmon-colored dresses (one had white polkadots). some of the guests thought i was making a political statement about northern ireland. (p.s. my word verification is "monsfula". is that a lady part?)

squadratomagico said...

I've never heard of polyvore before, but it sounds like a lot of clicking and dragging to get something. I lurve the orange skirt, too, but might have paired it with grey -- a combination I quite like. Also love the brown shoes at bottom.

I don't usually "do" ruffles, though: Ruffs, yes; ruffles, no. I'm prob'ly too old for 'em and there are few places where I am happy to have the extra volume. I did thrift a dress with some ruffles recently, though, loose little floppy ones on the sleeves.

Susan said...

Actually, your collection of clothes all work together, it's just that you don't have many bottoms to go with all your tops! But all your tops (except maybe the eggplant) could go with that orange skirt...

Sisyphus said...

magisterludi: very important --- it's not green, it's teal. It doesn't quite show the same way in person as on screen. I do really like it though.

Maybe the gray and red/orange skirt would work together? I am doubtful. I think the pieces sorta work together but you couldn't wear the sweaters/jackets with any of those dresses, and I have some very tailored type jackets there that don't work with the poofy skirts/dresses.

I think, having looked at this site more and what people are actually creating, that it is more about professionalizing fan culture than interpellating people into consumerism per se. There are a lot of what you used to see on teenagers' bedroom walls with the shrines to heartthrobs from Tiger Beat and clippings of everything they found shiny and pretty. I guess then it's a question of whether it's "better" --- or what exactly is changed --- when being creative on a commercial site, assembling pieces pre-selected by the company, vs a more DIY find-it-yourself creation of one's physical personal space. Tho' the idea that you can pine over the latest high-end designer furniture and create your "dream teen room" is disturbing.

I guess I want to look in the actual rooms of those who use the site and see what they do offscreen.

Anonymous said...

can i just say i love all the things you picked?! your fashion sense is awesome, in my opinion.

Maude said...

Squadrato--I'm totally only this orange/lime green/ash grey mixing and matching kick--I think it's because I found this duvet cover that I love and those are the three predominant colors (it's also mixed with a deep teal, or I would call it teal), anyway... I have also developed a love for taupe. Go figure.

Sis--I, too, am totally captivated by the latest Anthropologie catalog! There are a couple of dresses that I must have--or rather I think I must have; I haven't been to the store yet. The one I'm coveting from the July catalog is the Violet Gloaming dress and the Anticipation Heels--both on page 4. I like the scarlet and crimson wedges, too. The post that was cooking in my head involves these items, too. I might check out polyvore!

English Adjunct said...

Oh, Anthropologie. So whimsical, yet so frickin' expensive.

I have tried polyvore before, but found it a bit confusing. I then found shopstyle, which is basically the same thing but easier for me.

That last outfit = I love. And it is too early for me to think theory, so those are my surface comments right now.

Sisyphus said...

OOh, Maude, they don't have shoes at my store!!! Did you see the bright yellow heels on the next page after your lovely shoe choices? Mmm!

And they have a gorgeous purple duvet that wasn't at my store. I like it. I have no money, but I can like it.

Jeremy said...

Have you tried Mod Cloth?
A little Anthropologieish in terms of style (though with more 1950-60s retro bent), but significantly less expensive.