25 August 2014

minimalist maxims


It's always interesting to hear people's reactions to my outfit choices -- not entirely pleasant, mostly annoying, but always interesting.
I don't think about perceptions when I choose what I wear, I just pick what I like. I think this may be a rarer course of action than I ever realized. I was drawn to this turtleneck tube dress because of the simplicity -- it's just a sack, really, very plan, no cuts or darting to cling to the body. Nine times out of ten I would pass it over, but I think because it is so simple it has a lot of options, lots of stories to tell. I am by no means a minimalist (I mean, there is an actual Comme des Garcons tag on this blog to speak to this) but I think little things can feed into bigger, alternative and interesting things. This dress with a plastic PVC jacket and metal accessories, for example. This dress with Margiela boots in the snow. Simple things can be strange too. I like that possibility.


But what compels me to post these photos is knowing that how I look in photos varies so vastly to how I see myself in my minds eye. I always imagine myself thinner, taller, more graceful than I actually am, because I was taught by society to aim to be all these things. And I always make things that are very luxurious and expensive look like Hot Topic garb.  I actually love this about me -- I have this power to make everything declasse. One time for Glamour Magazine I shot a Chanel jacket in my kitchen and all the buttons fell off as I put it on. Luxury hates me, and minimalism done the usual all white errthang in simple cuts etc....makes me feel short and frumpy, like I'm not good enough for Helmut Lang looks. So I have to make my own versions of it, which I like, and find challenging. This outfit, on a thinner, taller body, would probably look twice as good to people. I'm only showing you one picture we took in this, but many of the others, I look like a real estate agent or game show host. If I had a more appropriate body for fashion I'd look like the quintessential minimalist. #goals, and all that. I am still very much a straight sized person, I'm just short. But I do think the representation of minimalism in fashion -- it's so thin and boring and tall and white. But minimalism can be colorful and fat and disabled and all these valuable other realms of experience too. Right? I'm thinking about the Normcore is Bullsh*t piece I commissioned and edited for The Style Con. How we need more critical dismantling of the aesthetics we valorize. I am looking forward to seeing -- and producing -- more critical fashion writing this fashion week.

Let's get critical, critical.... *music begins playing softly in the background*

I'm wearing: Vintage Calvin Klein Dress, Giles and Brother Necklace (old, similar here), Thrifted Backpack (similar here), Margiela Tabi Boots, ASOS Yellow Bag, Bon Look Sunglasses. Beauty Notes: MAC Lady Danger Lipstick and Toni&Guy Sea Salt Texturizing Spray.

Photos by Julia Chesky for W Magazine. Shot in Brooklyn. On sale now.


Justina Kenyon said...

I appreciate this so much. I always feel like I'm not skinny enough to wear whatever I want, but I'm not "this" or "that" enough to just say "fuck it". So it's nice to hear that other people have similar problems and that it doesn't necessarily stem from personal issues, but from an industry that isn't there to make us feel good, but that we can work to dismantle (the bad things about the industry, not the industry as a whole). So, thank you for existing and sharing.

sofie scholten said...

I really like what you write Arabelle, especially when it opens my mind a little each time. It's strange when certain looks appear only accessible to one body type or are elevated to 'cool' status when worn by that body type. Even tho I'm skinny, I do find my shortness prevents me from ever feeling like I can pull of 'classy' or 'elegant', but those words are so full of other loaded stuff that I dunno if I even care about them anymore.

isabella said...

Great article! It is very interesting to read your Point of view!


Adele said...

The first thing I thought when I saw these photos was how good you look and the colours together! I didn't think you weren't too short or whatever, or anything like that but I can feel your pain about beauty standards being shoved down our throats constantly every day and causing us as a society to feel unhappy. Also people who have beauty privilege or skinny privilege can get away with wearing boring outfits but to be striking somehow isn't good enough? Yeah argghh I dunno it makes me mad sometimes


ee_by_cc said...

"And I always make things that are very luxurious and expensive look like Hot Topic garb." This sentence, and now I'm in love with you! :) Really love your writing style.


s_d said...

1.Love that you're posting here more.
2. The same day I read the Normcore is Bullsh*t article, I saw the Gap ads with their new motto "Dress Normal," and the article resonated that much more, in the same way when my priest says to do something and I see people doing the exact opposite.

anna lisa said...

Great article! It is very is nteresting to read your Point of view hair loss in women that,s really amazing!

keyi said...

style is so personal and dependant on an individual's taste, personality, where they are in the moment (and thus subject to change) that I really don't find much value in making blanket statements in how people should dress or look in order to look cool. there will always be trends of the moment. and there will always be certain body types that are celebrated more than others due to what society has conditioned us to value. what looks cool to me is not what looks cool to someone else. what looks cool on a certain body type may look horrible on someone else with a different body. but i think personality is also a huge determinant as well.

I actually think you look stunning in this simple outfit/silhouette...more so than you look in your commes des garcon and more complicated outfits. (but that's just my opinion and i don't mean it as an insult to you or your taste in any way). i also like how you point out that minimalism does not necessarily render everything into a monochromatic color palette and love how your bright hair contrasts with the dark navy of the dress and the green soles of your boots with the black leather. this way of thinking informs the way i dress myself. as an Asian woman myself, who is short (5'3") who is pretty curvy (at least for an Asian girl) (34C, big butt), I love and embrace my body shape but think I look better in unfussy, minimal outfits with cleaner silhouettes. but that's an assessment I've made that's highly individual to who I am and what I find aesthetically pleasing. a different girl with the same body might embrace her curves/shape differently and dress with a totally different style from me. i might not like that look, but i don't believe in imposing my aesthetic tastes on other people. i love that you embrace who you are and experiment with your clothes according to your mood and personality. there's no contradiction in dressing as a minimalist or in more complicated garments/layered looks if both are a true expression of who you are and you are dressing to please yourself.

i really liked the Normcore is Bullshit article, and it made it clear to me why the author has a different reaction to the word "normal" and why she rejects the aesthetic/philosophy behind "normcore" dressing. However, I don't necessarily agree with her blanket rejection of it. if that way of dressing works for some people, so what? almost anything that's fashionable or any trend will include some people and exclude others. thankfully there are so many different options available to everyone. people can choose what's right for themselves. but i think it's dangerous to tell other people how to dress, how to look, what's "right" or what's "wrong". it's fashion. it's personal. do whatever makes you happy. hopefully ppl are dressing for themselves and not others..but don't we all do that at some level?

Freelancersforb said...

Love this!