When the original conversation in this blog about fashion and style went south, I had two emotional reactions. The first was to want to crawl into a hole and hide; to think, “I never ever want to write about this topic again, it makes people hate me, I clearly can’t write about it without having people jump down my throat, so never mind, let’s just forget the whole thing.”
The second was to think. “Fuck that noise. I love this topic, and I’m fucking well going to write about it as much as I want. Anyone who’s interested can read it, and anyone who isn’t can ignore it, and the haters can go fuck themselves.”
This is me. Guess which route I’m taking.
I am officially inaugurating Fashion Friday. Every Friday, I’m going to write something about fashion and style. Maybe a little something… maybe a lot. Maybe an exegesis on some complex issue of fashion and society; maybe a discussion of a personal fashion issue I’m having; maybe some pretty pictures or a link to an interesting fashion blog.
I will do this every Friday, except when I don’t feel like it, and until I get bored.
I came to jewelry late in the game. For years, it was barely in my style consciousness at all. I had a few pieces I wore for special occasions — but on a day to day basis, I never wore it. And I mean never. I didn’t hate it or feel anxious about it or anything; I just didn’t care about it enough to explore it. It seemed like a hassle, one more thing to worry about. I wanted to spend my clothing budget on, you know, clothes.
But as I’ve been exploring fashion and style more consciously and thoroughly, and as I’ve been having more fun with it, I’ve been embracing jewelry. And I’ve come to a couple of realizations about it that have made me want to embrace it and explore it even more.
Revelation One: Jewelry can make a basic outfit fun and unique.
If I don’t have the time or energy in the morning to do more than throw on jeans and a T-shirt or tank top? In thirty seconds, I can dress it up with a necklace or a bracelet or a ring, or some combination of the above. And bang — the outfit goes from the same old “jeans and T-shirt” background noise that everyone is wearing, and becomes my own. It makes me feel like I’m not blending in. It makes me feel like me.
And it makes me feel like whatever version of me I feel like that day. The quizzing glass makes me feel sophisticated. The red leather wristband makes me feel rock and roll. The black and white seashell ring makes me feel exuberant and playful, and just a little Carnaby Street. The zipper necklace makes me feel elegant from a distance, kinky and punk rock from up close. The octopus bracelet makes me feel sensual and sybaritic and delightfully nerdy.
Jewelry adds color and flair and personal style to jeans and a tank top. Or, for that matter, to a little black dress. Trousers and a jacket. A skirt and a blouse.
And it does it in thirty seconds.
Revelation Two: Jewelry is cheap.
The jewelry I like, anyway.
My absolute favorite pieces, my go-to pieces? The zipper necklace. The delicate steampunk choker. The quizzing glass. The swirly red-and-black leather wristband. The swirly black-and-white ring made out of a seashell. The steel ring made out of watch parts. The textured steel bangle that hints at a snake around my arm. I have one or two slightly more pricey pieces that I love and wear all the time (the octopus bracelet that Ingrid bought me leaps to mind, the one I’m pretending I don’t know the cost of). But on the whole, the jewelry I love most, the jewelry I most passionately respond to? It’s the costume stuff. The local artist stuff. The stuff made by my friends. The stuff in the twenty dollar bin.
So it’s a cheap way to make my wardrobe more versatile. In the discrete combinatorial system of fashion and style, it’s a cheap way to multiply my options… from a few dozen (if you put all the combinations in my closet together), to a few hundred. And if I’m feeling bored with my wardrobe but can’t afford new clothes, I can usually find a way to afford a new twenty-dollar necklace or five-dollar ring.
And I can do it without feeling like I’m settling.
When I look at high-end clothing, I lust. I yearn. Not all the time, of course — plenty of high fashion is pig-ugly at best and laughably clownish at worst — but some of it is so beautiful, it makes me ache. When I look at Rodarte and Balenciaga and Alexander McQueen, I get envious to the point of resentment. Serious high fashion, the kind of fashion I point to when I’m postulating drunkenly on how fashion can be fine art… that fashion is out of my price range, wildly out of my price range, out of my price range by an order of magnitude or more.
Which makes me a little wistful. I love the clothes I have, don’t get me wrong: I feel comfortable and happy and joyful in them, and I feel like myself in them, and a closet full of Rodarte would not feel like me at all. I am not someone who spends six figures on her wardrobe, and I don’t ever want to be. But would I like to have just two or three pieces of clothing that make me feel like I’ve stepped into a work of genius? Yes, I would. And I probably never will. Insert wistful sigh.
I do not feel that way about jewelry.
Not in the slightest. When I look at high-end modern jewelry, it puts me to sleep. I find it boring at best, flat-out ugly at worst. There are exceptions… but they’re few and far between. I sincerely do not like expensive jewelry. I sincerely like cheap jewelry.
So I can enjoy it unreservedly. I can enjoy it without envy, or resentment, or the slightest hint of wistfulness.