24 June 2010

My Two Wardrobes

self-portrait of a redheaded blogger
Tie-dyed shirt, thrifted
Butterfly pendant, estate sale, remixed

I've been thinking a lot about this post recently, and the significance of editing - the self-editing just about every blogger does.

I don't show you all my clothes, Fabulous Readers. You don't see my gardening/scrubbing/home construction grubbies, the baggy board shorts I go kayaking in, my lounge-around-the-house-in-a-funk pajamas, my ad-hoc workout wear. You also don't see outfits on days, like today, where after half an hour with the camera I haven't been able to get a single photo that looks decent, that approximates what I see in the mirror.

Is that vain? Absolutely. But there are a lot of facets of me that I don't discuss on this blog: my politics, my religious views, my other areas of interest, what I had for dinner. That's not why you come here, which is also the reason I don't attempt to encyclopedically document every single thing that I put on my body, in some mad quest to be fashion blogging's answer to Samuel Pepys. You read my blog, I hope, to see and hear about my particular (peculiar?) perspective on fashion, its whys and wherefores - and hows.

Clothing might not shape our self-image in toto, but it does help define it to the world at large. I don't expect my clothes to express the sum of my personality to the world at large: instead, they present a carefully-edited version of myself, the parts of me I choose to show.
That process of editing, of choice, is what really fascinates me about fashion. Why do we make the choices we do? What determines why I find one shirt cute and another so unflattering as to only be suitable for the most menial of tasks? Why do we emphasize some parts of our bodies and desperately try to camouflage others?

It's easy to say "because of the dominant social paradigm" in response to all of these questions, but I think that's too simple an answer, and maybe even a bit of a cop-out. What are the forces that drive that paradigm? Where do they come from and what influences them? And what about the people who stray from that paradigm, by degrees minuscule or dramatic? What inspires them?

What do you think? Should style blogging be encyclopedic, a comprehensive catalog of what one person (or several) wears, or would you rather see a carefully thought-out selection of outfits a blogger thinks are interesting, inspiring, or attractive? What degree of (self-) editing is all right before a blogger loses authenticity and thus authority - some? None? Lots? No upper limit? Are style blogs more like diaries or one-person fashion magazines?

PS. Apologies to all you Fabulous Readers who subscribe via RSS: I don't know why this published while I was halfway through writing it!


  1. I think the level of editing you do has to do with what you hope to gain from your blog. I only post a couple outfits a week (and sometimes just one or even none). I often repeat outfits, and I don't usually see a need to blog them after first time I wear them, because with my blog I care a lot about the community around it and the friends I make with it - so if I've already posted an outfit, I don't think many new connections or much new conversation could spring from it a second or third time.

    And some days I just don't care and I throw on whatever is clean and presentable. Or it's a day I'll be cleaning the house/going to the gym/working outside and I just wear clothes I don't care about getting sweat/bleach/dirt on. I don't blog those days either because I'm not emotionally invested in those outfits. The outfits I post are ones I put thought/emotion into. Usually that means I like them, but sometimes I still post things and say "I really hoped this would work out and I tried hard on it, but I still don't like this outfit." Even when I don't like an outfit, often the conversations that come from those posts are the most helpful - people give suggestions, point out what they think is wrong with it, what I could do differently, etc. and that helps me see my closet from fresh eyes.

  2. I read fashion blogs primarily for inspiration so I like to see the "nice" outfits. That said, I also enjoy the "behind the scenes" posts that some bloggers write just because I'm curious how other people live their lives. I read your blog because you tend to write regularly on fashion theories. My favorite post of yours was about more interesting alternatives to black pants.

  3. Well... you have summarized why I hate those fashion shows which go through a person's wardrobe and pitch out all their clothing in a dramatic flourish. I've never been able to precisely express why (in addition to the shear waste of it) that so annoys me.

    It annoys me because it is much too simplistic. It's cute, and dramatic, and probably quite traumatic (I assume anyone who looks at them and tells them to go pound sand is culled from the show) but it is also unrealistic. One is more than the cute outfits the show deems wearable.

    It also explains why you never see people over 50 on these shows. Because we would tell these one dimensional people to go pound sand.


Comments are moderated to reduce spam, so don't worry if they don't show up right away!