24 May 2010

Style Challenge: Sweet and Rough

A few days ago, Jessica of What I Wore posted a style challenge: mix sweet and rough in one look. I rise to challenges when it suits my fancy, and this one hit me where I live.

today's outfit, sweet and rough, velvet top, Ann Taylor Loft vest, John Fluevog sandals
Pink ruched-shoulder top, Velvet, Marshall's,
Satin-collar vest, Ann Taylor Loft
White eyelet skirt, gift
Studded sandals, John Fluevog "Summertime: Sunshine," remixed
Military bag, vintage, purchased somewhere in London (I won't admit how many years ago)
Woven leather cuff, Urban Outfitters, remixed
Bronze flower necklace, thrifted, remixed
Bronze filigree earrings, gift

What could be sweeter than white eyelet and a pink top with ruched sleeves? What could be rougher than studded sandals, a leather cuff bracelet, and a military-issue rucksack as a purse?

pink, white, pinstripe, leather, studs, military

I'm fond of looks that borrow from different style registers, causing a bit of contrast and maybe even some cognitive dissonance. Sweet/rough (I prefer the description "girly/tough") has long been a favorite of mine. Even in high school, when my fashion sense was not nearly as developed as it is now, I favored floral skirts with stompy boots and denim jackets. In college, I layered motorcycle leathers over ruffled dresses. Maybe I can attribute my fondness to girly/tough styling to my interest in Goth and steampunk looks, many of which blend exaggerated Victorian femininity (bustle skirts, corseted waistlines, tiers of ruffles) with rugged elements such as combat boots and industrial-influenced jewelry.

In fact, the very concept of a corset could be seen as the ultimate blend of femininity and roughness. Corsets first appear in fashion subsequent to the development of plate armor in the 14th century. Some fashion historians consider corsets to be an adaptation of masculine armor styles to female fashion, neither the first nor the last: 13th-century fashionistas wore men's hunting hoods with their fitted, floor-sweeping cottes, while in Jane Austen's era, women wore Spencer jackets, originally a military style, over their Empire-waisted gowns. Throughout history, women have adapted men's styles, whether from the hunt, the military, or work clothes, and adapted them to suit their fashion requirements.

yellow eyeshadow, pinstripe vest

This vest is a perfect example. It's a very menswear-influenced style, with its satin-faced notch collar, and it's done up in suiting fabrics. Its cropped, shaped cut and faceted 'jet' buttons make it clear that I haven't stolen part of Fabulous Husband's suit collection, though.

Incidentally, I'm quite pleased with my makeup today. I discovered bright yellow eyeshadow about a year and a half ago, and really can't get enough of it.

John Fluevog, Summertime, studded sandals, eyelet skirt

I had so much fun wearing this outfit that I might just see if I can keep up the girly/tough look all week long!

Do you like to mix style registers in your outfits? What are some of your favorite combinations?


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  2. I too have a love for mixed registers. Way back when, in high school I was pretty much a proto-Goth, before it truly emerged as a style. It's a theme I still incorporate, and added in steampunk when it arrived.

    What I find kinda funny is how some cosmetic trends are returning from the 80s - I still have gray nail polish (wore it a couple weeks ago) and yes, at least 2 blazing yellow eyeshadows...all from 1982-83. I kid you not. One is L'Oreal, one is Wet 'n Wild, and it is amazing what great quality the latter still is. It is in a duo with a dark, pearlescent, slightly rusty red.


  3. Love the sweet/rough combo -
    I sported something like that for Easter brunch with the in-laws. Purple/black paisley floaty skirt, black tights, purple t-shirt... and big stompy boots :)
    I just discovered your blog and I love it - the looks you create are what I aspire to :)
    If you'd like to, come check out my blog - I've given myself a "no jeans + t shirt" outfit challenge this week.

  4. Didn't see the post on 'What I Wore' but I think you've nailed the girly/tough look really well!


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