Monday, March 24, 2008

 

How To Be Fashionable

"Where," an ex-boss once asked me, "do Japanese girls get their clothes?" She was talking about the fashionable young kids from Japan who started showing up in New York toward the end of the 90s. This Japanese street fashion is documented in the magazine Fruits, which has a cult following in the west.



(Yes, that boy is wearing a Scottish flag.)

I've since come to realize that the whole Japanese street fashion look isn't so much about where you buy your clothes as it is how you put an outfit together. It is, as my friend Debbie would say, an attitude thing.



Depending on who you are, you will find this kind of thing to be a lot of work or a lot of fun. At my age, I should of course no longer care what I look like or what I am wearing, but living in New York gives you a distorted sense of your age and what you should aspire to do with yourself.

So, how to be fashionable? Going to a particular kind of shop is of no help, as shops tend to be organized around themes (country, cheap-and-slutty, angry-and-leather) and if you rely on a store, then you will just look like . . . a store. Getting dressed in that Japan street way, therefore, requires that you think about asymmetry and contrast and mismatching correctly. This is exhausting work. In other words, you need inspiration to do it correctly.



My favorite fashion blogger is the preternaturally gifted Stylebubble, a girl from Hong Kong who travels the globe documenting: what she likes and why, what she wears, where she shops and how she puts it all together. She's clearly got a brain and is such a great example of what happens when a smart person becomes passionate about something--that thing, in her case, being fashion. She's often described as a "Japanese street fashion type" or a "Fruits" girl, but I think that people just mean she's actually creative, and that the street fashion moniker has become a catch-all for people who like life's irregularities and apply this to getting dressed in the morning (or . . . to go to lunch).

Susie never dabs her toe into fashion. Oh no. No repressed, color-coordinated J Crew devotee is she. Susie will give herself spats. She will see if she can emulate Prada. She will dress up like a silver robot. She will put a bird on her head. She is equally interested in up and coming designers, vintage, high end and low end. She is, in short, a girl after my own heart.

And, like all people who are passionate about something, she reveals that loving fashion for her comes in part from exploring something about herself. Isn't that the point of true style?
Let's just say me and my looks aren't exactly best friends. Being taunted for being ugly at school didn't help. Having quite frankly some horrific teen years including highlights such as being called an 'ugly moose' online by a former crush also didn't aid the cause. So I resigned myself to accepting that whilst I may be very good at say baking a banana cake, I'm just not aesthetically good looking. The smiley positive people will argue 'No! Every person is beautiful in their own way.' But there it is. The added 'in their own way'. I think we are adult enough to accept that not everyone is born with the beauty genes.


(I'd pilfer photos from Susie's site, but I don't know her and don't want to upset her and really, if you care about clothes, you should just go over there and lose yourself for a couple of hours.)

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