When I came out in 1969 I lived in a commune on Grayson Street in Berkeley. It was in the distinctly unfashionable industrial area a couple of blocks west of San Pablo Ave.
I was a hippie and dressed in free or thrift store clothes. While I had a couple of dresses and skirts I wore jeans a lot. Bell bottoms were hip in those days.
I didn’t fit in with the sisters I met in San Francisco. They were into clothes and fashion. They thought me strange because my make-up and style matched that of the Berkeley radical and hippie women who were part of my community.
I got into fashion when I worked at the NTCU. It was hard not to, what with it being an interest of so many of my peers.
But even then I felt more attuned to the feminist messages that fashion is exploitation and oppressive, a way of enforcing conformity, consumerism, classism and objectification.
If I sound a bit ambivalent regarding fashion you would be right.
Glamor is seductive and I like pretty as much as anyone else. Not caring about fashion does not mean I don’t like clothes or looking aesthetically pleasing. It means I don’t like being sold a pre-packaged aesthetic, particularly one that doesn’t reflect my personality, ethos, politics but rather reflects the aesthetics of a designer who created the package.
I even like the designs of certain designers and feel their designs present a look in tune with the image I wish to present.
The clothes from these designers tend to be of a type that would fit in a wardrobe for years and never look dated.
In the 1970s when I read all the fashion magazines the most important part was usually the little name one finds along side or at the bottom of the photographs saying who took them.
My favorite expensive necklace was my Nikon F2s.
My favorite jacket was either a black blazer or the black leather motorcycle jacket.
I don’t wear high heels, haven’t put on pantie-hose in years.
Now I look to the streets for ideas, the Eddie Bauer catalog, L.L. Bean.
While I used to love Vogue so many of the photographers I loved are dead and the politics of fashion with the hard sell of gender and class has taken all the fun away from what was always, for me an irrelevant topic.
The fun has been pushed to the back ground, replaced by the hard sell of class anxiety where winning and image are everything and if you don’t have 500 dollars for a pair of shoes then you are a loser.
Fashion works class anxiety as a way of selling objects aimed at signifying membership among the rich elite, hence the law enforcement efforts to crack down on look alike handbags and watches. After all if the retail sales slave can own a 40 dollar bag that says Louis Vuitton on it and that looks identical to an actual Louis Vuitton bag that cost 1500 dollars, that subverts the status value of the 1500 dollar bag.
Fashion has become a way of selling class status, a way of saying I have more money than you therefore I am better than you and you should be subservient in my presence.
It wasn’t always that way.
We forget the impact of the Class War started by the conservatives of the Reagan/Thatcher era with its slogan of “Greed is Good” and its ethos of “ME, ME, ME”. We forget the rise of the ethos of “he who dies with the most toys, wins” and the end of the idea of equality.
Vogue on the outside, vague on the inside.
Nah. I’m not a fashionista because I see the people who are as having shallow sucky values, like Marie Claire writer Maura Kelley who was taken down over on Feministe the other day: http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/10/27/if-maura-kelly-doesnt-like-seeing-fat-people-perhaps-she-should-get-a-room-and-not-leave-it/
When it comes to values and clothes I think I like my t-shirts and jeans better. I’d rather shop at an out let store and get something at half price a season or two later.
And it doesn’t much matter because most of the stuff I like are classics and never go out of fashion.