Mini Project- Style Chapters
1/ I am 4 years old
The only thing I want to wear is my red and white carebear dress with lionheart on the chest. When I am told I can’t wear it because it needs to be washed, I run away. My mother doesn’t notice until the neighbor Lola tells her, who then has to chase me down, because my little legs have taken me rather far up the steep hill headed in the direction of the fields and the park.
2/ I am 5-7 years old
I believe my mother is the most glamorous woman in the world. Especially when the babysitter arrives because she has a date with my dad, and she comes down the stairs wearing her cobalt blue silk jumpsuit with the purple sash. I know when she kisses me goodbye that I’ll get to smell her Christian Dior perfume. I hate wearing wool stockings under my dresses in the cold cold Albertan winters, but I love my red coat and white fake fur stole that keeps my hands cosy in the outdoors.
3/ I am 8-10 years old
I am so skinny and tanned, fresh from a trip to Ecuador. My abuelita sends me clothes that are too provocative for my age really, but I have to model in them and have photos taken so they can be sent to her and she can lead herself to believe they were good choices. All I want to do is dress like a rather serious grown up. I make my mother buy me a plaid blazer and pointed leather shoes, and once I get to school and look at my classmates I realize what bad choices these were. I do not trust myself to be left to my own fashion devices for quite some time.
4/ I am 11-14 years old
I remember the day I arrived into Grade 6 class distraught that Kurt Cobain died. No one else knew who he was except Carmen. I am enamored with grunge. My obsession grows to encompass Hole, Stone Temple Pilots, Soundgarden, L7, Alice in Chains, and back into the Seattle forefather Jimi Hendrix. I wear Vans. I wear boys jeans, I wear combat boots and fishnet tights and floral print babydoll dresses. Other girls wear white jeans and mondetta sweaters. I do not fit in. At 12, I experiment with semi permanent hair dye and a fake nose ring. I start to take an interest in my mom’s old clothes and I begin messing around with her sewing machine during the summer. I continually have to pull my clothes out of the rubbish bin because my mother keeps trying to get rid of the ones I buy secondhand. My jeans acquire too many holes because my mother is so exasperated by my expression of style that she cuts me off financially from acquiring anything new. At 14 I cut all my hair off, inspired by Drew Barrymore.
5/ I am 15- 17 years old
The attempt at sweetness. I streamline because I develop friends beyond Carmen and Drea. I wear brand names and obey high school trends. My private rebellion is crimping my hair to make it thicker and cutting straight straight bangs. But I do other stupid things like wear pink sweaters and white capri pants, and I let my mother take me to Winners with her. Like her, I start to believe I shouldn’t buy myself clothes I am naturally drawn to, especially if they are not somehow discounted. I go to visit my aunt in Italy and my parents give me spending money for good clothes. Its the first time I am able to buy freely, and far far away from other influences I buy some things I truly love, that are still in my wardrobe today. I realize what beautiful clothes feel like.
6/ I am 18-23 years old
I lose all sense of myself in University. I am swimming in my body and too much in my head to make sense of my clothes. I do realize I am thought of as attractive, and this combined with newfound entry into nightclubs and dancing means I make purchases like tank tops to dance in with skate shoes. I frequently steal into my sister’s wardrobe, which enrages her. She has a clean eye for style and I am envious of her spending power.
7/ I am 24-26 years old
I am still floundering, and too prone to influence. In retrospect its something akin to trying on clothes in a store, but then actually buying all those eclectic try-on pieces and calling them a wardrobe in real life. This extends to wearing clothes that aren’t the right fit sometimes. There is no coherence, although some beautiful things in the mix. What could kindly be called flair is more often than not, misguided and at times grandiose.
8/ 27-29 years old
A slow slow unfolding and understanding. It is only after this Christmas gone past that I do a final purging of all the thing sitting in my wardrobe that were bought from an outside-in perspective rather than an inside out perspective. I let my instinct guide me now, and I realize that the things I have come back to again and again in my wardrobe are actually quite anti-fashion and more timeless leaning. I like off white, pale pinks, blacks, greys, and nudes, and colours and prints occasionally appear in the mix. I indulge a love of minimalism in my work clothes. The mannish/boyish flavour I have carried since the days of grunge finds new and more subtle expresion. I finally feel I have lost the unwanted characteristic of attention seeking with my clothes. I come to appreciate the components of influence, and the power of transformation by references and even the literal transformation of fancy dress. Embodiment feels fluid and enjoyable. I give away what I do not love. I am satisfied when things literally fall apart when I have worn them to the point of breakage, and for others, I let them go when they have simply lost their shape. My wardrobe is no longer the heaving, multiplying cancerous mess. I have learned to edit and keep things relatively simple. It feels healthier, and as though it conveys some manner of truth I can’t otherwise articulate.