Thursday, 2 February 2012

What Tilda Said

Tilda Swinton was interviewed by Charlie Rose last night, and when asked about her status as a style icon, she pretty much said that a) she wears what her designer friends tell her to wear, and b) if it feels like pyjamas, she'll wear it. Shey of Modesty is Pretty asked me the other day if my style has changed since I moved to the US, and the answer is yes, it has. I have started to think a lot like Tilda Swinton, except that I don't know designers who would give me clothes to wear. I tend to wear stuff if it feels like pyjamas, if it's comfortable.

I don't think my comfort-seeking has all that much to do with the United States. It has a lot more to do with work. I used to work in clothing retail where it was necessary to look a certain way, ie. like you care about what you are wearing. (And before I make myself sound like I no longer care about what I wear, I'll say that caring about what you wear and looking like you care are two different things.) These days I don't have a 9-to-5- type of job, and when I work it is on my own terms, at home. This has had a huge impact on the way I dress. No dress code, no work-related societal pressure dictates what I should wear.

Dressing to impress others, or dressing to conform to the needs of the societies we live in is the sort of thing that we don't admit to ourselves easily. We like to think that we dress for ourselves and our identities first, and whatever role the people around us play is always secondary. We like to think that in the free world we live in, we have the right to choose. I, too, like to think that I have always dressed according to my own likes and dislikes, but reality would suggest otherwise. I recognise that I no longer wear the types of clothes I used to wear all the time, and it's not because I no longer like my old clothes or because my style has changed dramatically. I still like my old clothes. I just choose to wear different types of things when I can do so freely.

Trends, societal norms, roles of women in society, and dress codes still have a huge impact on the way we dress in the Western world, and at the end of the day there isn't a whole lot of freedom in that. These days there is even pressure for women to systematically "find" or "develop" their personal style, as if we somehow need one to fit in. Perhaps that is why comfort-seekers are often found on the edges of any style- or fashion-related discourse. The sweatpants-wearing woman is the ultimate fashion faux-pas.

I am wearing an old wrap-top, a super-old cardigan, thrifted velvet trousers and yard-sale Converse.


poppykettle said...

Oh Tilda, you make me laugh. A woman after my own heart for sure!

Anonymous said...

Totally lovelovelove what you are wearing. And I'm quite sure that Tilda would wear that too. Also, I sooooo know what you are saying about work related choises. Every day I struggle with these things.. One day I'd love to dress like Erykah Badu, another like Lisa Bonnet, and third to dye my hair blue, wear sequins and dr.Martens to work. Sometimes (often?) I try, and end up feeling out of place or unsecure at some point of my work day. Where I work you are expected to look certain way, and also my age is a factor. But still,(it happens rarely though), every once in a while someone walks in the shop where I work, and manages to surprise me in a good way. Very often they seem to be women who don't really care what someone might say, they just wear what they like..or maybe they are just like you and me,trying to find a look that is approved but yet their own and special. Whatever the case, there always seems to be this playful "something" in them. And of course there's always Advanced style...whenever I start doubting myself too much, I go see those amazing women photographed there. And also,my dear, you are always an inspiration to me. (You, and my new sequin dress ;).
Pus, sis.

Anonymous said...

The Velvet Trousers are wonderful and I think Tilda would approve. I know on the days that I am home teaching online, my attire is nothing worthy of a photograph. On campus, by comparison with my colleagues, I'm over-dressed! I like what you had to say about reducing ourselves to one style, because even after a couple of years of blogging about it, I don't like reducing the possibilities.

Roobeedoo said...

... and you look fabulous!
I have this debate with myself a lot.
I recently made a pair of wool shorts with red buttons and I want to wear them to work but I don't think I dare - how terribly sad that is!

Katrina said...

Love those trousers! I`v been searching for trousers like these for ages. You look so lovely!


Eyeliah said...

My style is definitely different since my job change over a year ago. I wear yoga clothes to work, my fun skirts and dresses for play. I am trying to hone my yoga style thou into something less 'activewear' and more 'flowy'. I really like your look today, it would work for a yoga class teach.