Monday, 1 February 2010

Freedom To Choose

I have been drawn to wearing bright colours and rather feminine clothes recently. I have always felt comfortable experimenting with all sorts of styles, be it menswear, flowy soft pastels, neons with ripped jeans, structured feminine shapes or what not. It has always been a question of mood. If I like the look of something, I feel more than comfortable trying it out. Having said that, I don't necessarily feel that my style identity is all over the place. It is the freedom to choose that is the most important thing - from that freedom emerges consistency, and what follows, one's style identity. I have never felt that my sense of style (or anyone else's) was a component or a manifestation of gender per se. If it happened to align with gender conceptions, so be it.

I read a piece in the latest issue of The Economist about a fashion phenomenon in Qatar. Apparently there has been a significant rise in the numbers of young women dressing up in baggy trousers and sporting short hair cuts. Talk shows, lectures, workshops and research projects have been discussing the "deviant behaviour" of these young women, or boyats (which can mean both "tomboy" and "transsexual"). The response has ranged anywhere from calls for death penalty to medical treatment and establishment of rehabilitation centres.

It is courageous of these women to choose to wear what they want, regardless of the society's pressure to hold onto traditional portrayal of what it means to be (and look like) a woman. Reading the article I wasn't entirely sure whether this was a debate about fashion, gender or sexual minorities, which really was the best thing. Whatever the force that drives these women to wear their menswear shouldn't matter. It is their individual choice to do so that is at the heart of it.

Cotton blouse: second hand Cacharel / Salvation Army
Cardigan: Zara
Skirt: second hand Nina Ricci / Petrune Vintage
Belt: second hand / Salvation Army
Tights: H&M
Ankle boots: Sportmax


Eyeliah said...

yes, been really enjoying these bright outfits. :)

SnapandPrint said...

Sometimes I feel my fashion is "all over the map" but, I also realize that everyone goes through different moods when it comes to their clothing.

We all have them and in embracing the many different styles and colours that we gravitate to, we are staying true to our sense of style. We are just not limiting ourselves in what we wear.

Michele said...

My grandma, born and raised in Hawaii, has a closet full of brightly colored mumus....all the same cut, but each with its own, very unique (and very bright!) print. That blouse transported me to Hawaii and her wacky, wonderful wardrobe.

I love yesterday's outfit too. I thought the brooch was handmade--it reminds me so much of those little, paper fortune telling thingies we made as kids.

a cat of impossible colour said...

God, aren't we lucky to live in places where the worst punishment we'll get for wearing something 'weird' is a few stares, rather than a potential jail-term or the death penalty?

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Karenina said...

Thanks for the link to the Economist article; very distressing news for those of us who care about the status and rights of women around the world.

You might be interested in this article about muslim women in Albania who historically "changed gender" in order to help their families negate certain patrilineal laws; they are known as Burrnesha, or the sworn virgins. While this interesting phenomenon seems to be dying out (due to the modernization and increasing freedoms for women in Albanian society) it is interesting to note that it is a muslim group who has chosen to view gender in far more fluid and loose terms than even we supposedly "open-minded" westerners. That being said, please keep in mind that the practice is a cultural one, and not a religious one.

It is interesting to compare the two situations...I wonder what makes one society so open to an idea, and another so closed?