|Nancy Sinatra meets Sonic Youth (photo by David Markey), which has nothing to do with this post other than maybe the idea of merging and different generations and whatnot. Mostly I just love the picture.|
I wrote a very long, rambling entry when I couldn't sleep very early in the morning despite being exhausted from SXSW. It's basic message is that it can be very tricky to be interested in fashion and not be a consumer and that the internet kinda changed how I interact with pretty things. But you can read the whole thing if you'd like!
HEY GUYS here's a mostly-text blog post with my feelings about fashion and the internet. I'm inspired by, but cannot claim to be in the same league as, my internet/fashion pal Ana over at Ripped Knees.
I just wanted to check in with you for a second while we interact on the INFORMATION SUPER HIGH WAY to see how you're doing. Honestly, this transition from Fashion With a Capitol F as a print media based beast to whatever it is now with the Internet happening has been both exhilarating and rough for me as a girl who cares about that sort of thing. I think I'm finally ready to admit that.
When I was pre-teen and first started reading fashion magazines, it was a mix of matter of morbid curiosity and secret reverence. I'm about the same age as Sassy, you see, which means I was too young to actually appreciate it when it was happening and didn't quite find a fashion/style/"women's issue" mag that really spoke to me during my formative, post-Highlights years. That doesn't mean I didn't read a bunch (and some might have been better than I gave the credit for), but the only magazine I (to this day) ever subscribed to was Alternative Press, and that didn't even last too long. I dressed the part, though...extra snug black tshirts and thrift-store jeans crudely shaped into skinnies mixed in with vintage threads because that's what girls like me did.
The point is, I didn't want to be the models in Cosmo or even Jane. Moreover, there was no expectation that I could be them - even the "real girl" features involved teams of experts and I knew it. I had a few pictures of Kathleen Hanna & AMC (pre-original programming) for reference, but for the most part, I got my cues from my friends and the people I genuinely interacted with or even just caught glimpses of - people who could only edit what I saw to a certain extent. It wasn't slick. It wasn't always (or maybe ever) good, especially when I made my own clothes. But I didn't want for what I couldn't have, save for Grace Kelly's Rear Window ensemble...though maybe I could have even had that if I put my mind to it. I had thrift stores. I had the discarded threads of my mother's youth. I had the fucking mall if need be.
Flash forward to 2K12. I read magazines about fashion and love them - Lula and The Gentlewoman are lovingly compiled for different girls, but by god, it feels like it's all just for me! How do I know that my very sartorial hopes and dreams have been snatched right out of my skull, captured, and legitimized by good old paper? Oh, you know, my favorite fashion bloggers. They're girls with laptops JUST LIKE ME, and they have the power to change what I buy.
I love fashion bloggers, blogs about pretty things, lifestyle blogs...love it all! Most importantly, I'm part of it, if even just a speck of dust, in a way that I never was with magazines. I have a real bond with some of these girls - we exchange care packages and talk about our feelings. It's the real deal as far as "connectivity" goes, to speak in Kanyeisms, as I often do. What isn't the real deal, however, is taking anyone's blog at face value, even you (YES YOU!), my sweet blogger BFFs. But I genuinely don't think the real problem is anyone intentionally trying to deceive or even show off their pretty, perfect life. I think we all, unless we have good reason to think otherwise, assume that blog posts showing Sunday brunch or a recent purchase are edited within an inch of their life and/or posed to begin with. People pick and choose what they want to share about their lives and we understand (and often appreciate) that.
I think the tricky part is when fantasy and inspiration get mixed into it all. Here's a picture of me devouring tangerine slices that my photographer-boyfriend snapped in the park on our ritual afternoon stroll (dreamy, but in the "real life" spectrum) and right smack dab next to it, here's Alexa Chung in a Charles Anastase dress that costs more than my rent (happens in real life but only to the chosen few). It's the constant stream of nice things to look at (whether purchasable or styled) and the social aspect of it all that fucks with my head, makes me want more than I need.
And then there are new, probably well meaning companies like ModCloth and Everlane. ModCloth claims to be "democratizing fashion" (whatever that means) while Everlane is about "designer quality goods" (whatever that means) for less. They have different aesthetics, but at their heart, each company seems to be about cleverly, aggresively using social media to sell you a lifestyle and even a community, but most importantly, sell you clothes while you feel like they're doing you the favor. It's not any different from what designers and labels (yes, I am differentiating from designers and labels, but that's a whole nother battle) have always done to sell you clothes you didn't know you needed. It just oddly feels more personal, less distant now that the internet is mixed up in it all despite whatever physical boundaries exist.
I don't mean to play the victim here; I'm guilty of everything I've critized, certainly, and the internet (specifically the fashion-oriented little corner of it I frequent) has done far more good than bad for me, I think/hope. I just get weirded out by it all sometimes and need to readjust the way I look at things because I have bigger things to worry about right now and I need fashion to be fun for me if it is to have any sort of place in my life.