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Street/Urban Wear Expert

The word on the street is... fashion! Our sassy Street Wear Expert Chako is the urban outfitter you need to sport serious threads, G.

Cocktail Party Blues and Assignment No. 1

Cocktail Party Blues and Assignment No. 1 Let me set up a scenario for you: It’s Friday night. You’ve just been invited to a college cocktail party and that means NO jeans. What do you wear?

I faced this dilemma last Friday night and finally came up with an idea: a short striped mini, pointy-toed black stiletto sling backs and a black wrap shirt. I wasn’t sure if this would be appropriate or just a little too wild, but I was very curious as to what the whole atmosphere might be like. It was all too soon before I found out...

The question that I pose to you is, ‘When you walk into a room, what catches your eye among the throng of attendees?’ (and I’m not talking about the most attractive person in the room, but along those superficial lines of outer appearance.) What if nothing catches your eye? How many times have you been to a party and noticed that everyone is pretty much wearing their “party uniform”- e.g. tight black pants, body hugging tank top or tube top? Or worse yet, how many times have you caught yourself wearing what everyone else is wearing? Sometimes it seems like you can’t pick out one person as much as think of the whole crowd as one person. What I’m trying to encourage here is trying to think differently about what you are wearing, about how you choose to express yourself through fashion (that is, if you choose to express yourself through fashion). And, yes, ladies, I take fashion as an art!

It has always been a mystery to me as to why college co-eds feel the need to religiously root through their J. Crew and Banana Republic catalogues (catalogues, mind you, NOT stores because it’s easier to shop from home) instead of piecing together ensembles from a variety of different places. If there is one fashion faux pas, it has got to be wearing one designer from head to toe or picking the outfit straight from the display. Afterall, the saying goes that “variety is the spice of life”.

It was a crying shame that everyone was on the same thinking level as far as fashion went. A cocktail party is always an ample opportunity to put away your run-of- the-mill jeans and t-shirt ensemble and break out the nice stuff. My eyes witnesses what they hoped they would not when they saw most of the ladies in their black pants and body-conscious lycra shirts or their simple floral tank dresses (although there were one or two that strayed from the norm) or the outfit they plucked straight from the window model at BEBE. And there I was, standing at the welcome matt peering in like, “Sh*t!“ There’s always that paradox you feel when you’re the ‘different’ one. In one sense, I was glad that my fashion mentality didn’t fall in synch with everyone else, but on the other hand, I felt like I was in the wrong place or just back in high school again (those times are trying!).

I’m not trying to sound like my sense of style is on a higher echelon than anyone else’s, I’m simply wondering where the creativity has gone in the way people put themselves together. We’re so used to being bombarded with media and pop culture, that I think a lot of us have forgotten to think for ourselves instead of dressing like our favorite pop star or anti-pop star (which is just terrifically big in Japan). Everything is either ‘hot’ or ‘not’ and quite frankly we should know by now that there is always a grayscale. What is even more annoying is that anti-fashion and anti-pop-culture are becoming exactly what they initially railed against- pop culture. The scary part is that most have come to accept that it is a lost cause (Just look at anything in Urban Outfitters). The reason for ‘assignment one’ in the title of this didactic (? ?) is that I have an assignment for the one or two or maybe zero faithful readers or browsers of my column. No, you won’t need to turn anything in to me and you don’t even have to do it, but I think it would be an interesting experiment and will perhaps stimulate some creativity in your style. First let me give you an excerpt from Color’s 1000 Extra/Ordinary Objects for you to ponder and then let me introduce you to assignment number one:

“ Before setting out in pursuit of the ideal body, first decide whose ideals of beauty you want to pursue. Many people aspire to look like these [mannequins]. Yet a woman as thin as a modern mannequin wouldn’t be able to menstruate. Real fashion models can be even slimmer, weighing 23 percent less than the average woman. And over the last 20 years, they’ve got thinner – while most people have got fatter. As the gulf widens, both men and women are becoming more dissatisfied with themselves. A 1995 study in Psychology Today found that, after three minutes of looking at pictures of models in magazines, 70 percent of women felt depressed, guilty or ashamed.”[1]

How do you feel about the excerpt? That small paragraph is very informative and hopefully leads you to some introspection about your body image. My assignment is to STOP READING FASHION MAGAZINES FOR ONE MONTH. For some of you, this may be easy, for others this will be like giving up air. I admit that I am drawn to the glossy pictures and saucy stories that each offers, however, after looking at all the type of models they use and the type of shallow and very “Bourgeois” articles they put in the magazines, I feel a bit queasy. I would also like to get away from the influence of fashion from magazines and see what things I can come up with for myself on sources other than magazines for inspiration. I will do this assignment myself and will report any change of thinking that I may have and I encourage you to do the same.

[1]1000 Extra/Ordinary Objects, Mustienes, Carlos, ed., Italy, 2000, pg. 114


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