I know what you’re thinking -- we just met and already she thinks she can boss me around with some dumb rules? But don’t worry, I’m just here to talk about my rules, the rules I’ve made up that have (and haven’t) worked for me over the years. Also, my rules aren’t dumb; I can’t believe you would say that.
I’ve always had my own aesthetic from which I’ve never strayed too far, but over the years I’ve had a series of self-imposed rules that have influenced how I’ve executed it. In high school, I didn’t want to dress without at least one major statement piece; this led to many pairs of Jane Doe pants paired with Issey Miyake sweaters and an ever-present pair of knee-high black leather boots. It was, in a word, loud. Then, in my late teens, I switched and decided I didn’t want wear anything with which I couldn’t wear pearls. I spent a lot of money on Kate Spade handbags and kitten heels before I realized that I don’t like either of those things.
My early twenties saw the enlistment of the Katharine Hepburn law: specifically, would Katharine Hepburn wear this? If not, I wasn’t interested. Of course, being relegated to nothing but wide-leg trousers and silk blouses quickly becomes a rather dull and jejune mode of dressing, and I dropped it.
My mid-twenties ushered in my grunge phase, in which I paired many tasteless American Apparel tank tops with cut-off denim shorts. Of all my phases, this one is my most reviled, though I like to think I can blame it on the fact that I had just moved to Austin, the most casual city in America, and I think I just...over-corrected a bit. This phase mercifully ended, ushering in my current phase: the Age of the Blazer.
Seriously. Blazers with everything. Blazers with jeans, blazers over dresses, blazers with shorts (though, once, after bragging to my friend Sarah that I could pull off anything so long as I wore it with a blazer, she challenged me to pair one with shorteralls. I’m still too chicken to try this, so perhaps I should downgrade my earlier statement of “everything” to a more tempered “almost everything”).
Behold, the Almighty Blazer
Most of my late-twenties aesthetic has involved an exploration of wearing tailored clothing in a casual manner, and I feel like I’ve really hit my sartorial stride. I do have two rules I’ve lately adopted that help me get the most out of my favored aesthetic, which I will share with you now, and which you are, of course, welcome to ignore if you like, as I am not the boss of you:
Rule #1: Would I wear this out of the store? If not, then odds are I really don’t like it. (Exception: if it just needs minor alterations, I’ll take it, but that’s largely because I found a good alterations place that I trust.)
Rule #2: Did this cause harm when it was made? This one takes a little more explaining, so let me break it into sub-rules:
Rule #2, Sub-Rule A: No exotic skins. Do I look amazing in these panda-pelt boots? Of course. But should I buy them? Probably not. This is a subject I take very seriously, and I’ll happily spare you the details of my onerous tirade, but as an animal lover, exotic skins are a deal-breaker.
Rule #2, Sub-Rule B: No fast fashion. This is subject about which I still have much to learn, but the more I do learn the more I stay away from anything made by Target, Forever 21, etc. Clothing there tends to be poorly made by people working in unsafe conditions; they create gobs of waste and they’re pretty shameless about straight-up stealing ideas from designers. Also those are the types of stores that tend to attract loud teenagers, and I. just. can’t. with that crowd.
Looking back through this list it almost appears as though each one of my phases is a direct rebellion against the one before it, which causes me to wonder if my current tastes are fleeting and in a year or two I’ll react by dressing baggy, un-tailored, old-lady-style silhouettes. Though one theme does appear to be consistent: age is certainly mellowing me out.
I grow old... I grow old...
I shall wear my Chanel pantsuit rolled.
Shall I Aquanet my hair? Do I dare fall asleep at three?
I shall wear Commes des Garcon and walk upon the beach.