This is how I dress. This isn't actually me. But feel free to pretend that it is.
Grovelling apologies for the hiatus in posting, but I’ve been busy engaging in Extreme Awesomeness* (there’s a campaign to make it an Olympic sport by 2012). Today’s post is brought to you from the depths of my wardrobe, where I have been searching for Narnia and something to wear tonight down t’pub. The resultant tantrum – of the I WANT TO BURN ALL MY CLOTHES variety – got me thinking about the importance of clothing and dress in our self-presentation. Why do we wear what we wear, and, from a feminist/intellectual perspective, is it possible to justify a love of clothes, make-up and ‘dressing up’?
The observation that dress is a key component of our projected identity is hardly a new one. But before you call me Captain Obvious, what I’m thinking about in this post is not the general social implications of ‘clothing’ – the adoption of ritual costume, or uniform, or any other sartorial markers of distinct cultural identity. Instead, I’ve been considering the thought processes that I undergo while choosing clothes in an everyday context, and how this fits into notions of psychological, gendered and class-based identity. (Yeah, deep, huh? This is how I justify reading Elle instead of The Economist on the bus).
I’ve always thought of myself as a fairly skeptical person – after all, it’s my job as a researcher to treat things as having value only when that value can be proven (or reasonably deduced). So I was surprised at myself when I agreed to undergo a tarot reading recently; because abrogating my tendency towards self-analysis, in favour of what I would normally regard as an arbitrary pseudo-science, is not something that fits in with my desire to find logical, ‘correct’ answers to life’s problems.
Men seldom make passes at girls who wear glasses.
Or so said Dorothy Parker. I have to confess, I’m not sure I agree with the Constant Reader on this one (although her observation that ‘women and elephants never forget’ is spot on). My glasses have, on occasion, been known to bring all the boys to the yard – much to my surprise, it should be added. It might just be the case that I’m especially attractive to visual impairment fetishists, or perhaps I appeal to men repressing their lust for Roy Orbison and Jarvis Cocker. Either way, this latest phase in my bespectacled life is a welcome change to the years of myopic teenage sturm und drang, in which glasses were the enemy of all things dear to a 14-year-old girl’s heart – Getting A Boyfriend, Looking Vaguely Cool, and Not Getting My Face Kicked In After School. So fiery was my passionate hatred for glasses, that I very often refused to put them on to watch TV in the privacy of my own bedroom. As such, it wasn’t until Season 4 of Buffy that I realised Giles was actually the Nescafe Gold Blend man; having watched virtually all previous episodes through the haze of an unmodified -2.75 prescription.