Monday, June 11, 2012

Visibly Pondering -- Jeans and Everyday

Interesting. I've been feeling somewhat distanced from the style/fashion portion of blogging, lately, and trying to sort out why that might be. Could just be a consequence of living out of a carry-on bag for a month and finding a certain ease in that approach, despite its frustrations.

Could be partly a self-protective response to the way my inner critic starts finding fault with my appearance after having her eye trained by French (especially Parisian) women for a few weeks. Especially when those French women don't have to dress out of said small carry-on.

Could be a niggling sense that we already give far too much power to one sense, allowing visuality and visibility to filter too much of our daily experience. Or a concern that so many of us are contributing to consumerist capitalism even as we claim to critique it -- I've watched too many wardrobe purges by bloggers simplifying their wardrobes and lives by supposedly paring down their materialism, only to then begin re-assembling their closets, brand name by brand name.
So I was very interested, yesterday, to note that Une Femme is not currently feeling the love for What I Wore posts. Her reasons may be completely different than mine (and I'm still not really sure what mine are), but I'll be following closely to see if she articulates them (she always does that so well.
I suspect that mine will be a temporary reaction -- as you can see, I felt the pull to join Visible Monday this week. But rather than changing my gear, putting on some makeup, getting my husband to play photographer, yesterday as we were heading out, I realized that I felt good in What I Was Wearing:  comfortable, suited to my context (a Neighbourhood Association meeting* on the island, with many of my neighbours likely coming straight from gardening). So I grabbed the camera and took these photos very much in a spirit of "Just as I Am."

 It may well be that these Denham jeans I bought in London last year are not the most flattering for my short and solid shape, but I love wearing them. The little Gap fleece moto-style jacket and Gap batik-print T underneath are better for casual 'round-home stuff than they would be in the city. But hey, that's where I'm hanging out these days, either studying an article in my big leather armchair or using a load of laundry as an excuse for a break. The metallic ballet flats I bought in Paris last year -- sold just around the corner from our St. Germain apartment as slippers, so they're brilliant on my feet-- are not nearly as fashionable as their sophisticated (and exponentially more expensive) cousins, the Repetto. No claims or even hopes that this outfit is polished, chic, creative, but it does express something about me and my life this particular June.
I'm curious to see how whatever I'm feeling about Fashion/Style here on Materfamilias Writes will evolve -- or whether it will simply dissipate. I'm also curious to know if any of you have ever felt a similar ennui.

Meanwhile, though, if you're still interested in seeing What Bloggers Wore, Patti always pulls a good crowd together over at Visible Monday -- I'll be there . . .

*Our little island's Neighbourhood Association AGM, btw, lasted three hours, despite the best attempts of our president to keep the discussion focused and moving along. It's the first one I've been to in at least eight years, and it might be another eight before I can do it again -- at least I'm racking up some Purgatory credits!!

35 comments:

  1. That looks like my sort of outfit - most every day! I guess that's why I don't take part in any of the style posts, although I am a regular lurker, hoping for a little inspiration.
    Off to pack a pair of clean jeans and something casually 'chic' for the conference. That's about as dressed up as I get for work!

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    1. Casual chic is really the best kind, no? Hope the conference is enjoyable and even productive.

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  2. Comfy casual yet pulled together with panache.
    I have been out of the fashion loop for quite sometime and don't know why...
    nice to see you are back in the swing of things and jet lag is a distant memory!

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    1. Thanks, Lesley.
      So do you think it's something going around, this slight loss of interest?

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  3. It's wonderful to see you again, Frances. I have cut way back on my WIW posts as well, finding more enjoyment in writing about Life In General - but I do so enjoy seeing what you're up to. I am loving the metallic flats, they glow!

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    1. Thanks, Patti . . . there's so much in Life in General to write about, think about, share. I suppose, like you, I want to make sure I keep the whole realm in my sight, rather than just one small corner.

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  4. Hello again! The Denham jeans look fab, I like the cut, and the Gap Biker-style jacket. I find it hard to get back into blogging when I've been away, though I do think it's good to have a break. I haven't read Une Femme's post but will check it out.

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    1. I do think much of my feeling distant about WIW has to do with being away. And something else, too, but whether or not it will persist, I'm not sure.

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  5. I love the relaxed and comfortable attitude this outfit conveys. I can picture you enjoying a book in your garden, maybe stopping to pull a weed, prepping the vegetables for dinner. I'm still sorting through my thoughts on this, hope to have something coherent up by mid-week.

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    1. I'll look forward to what you have to say on the topic, Sue.

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  6. I like what you're wearing. And does it even matter? I come here not just to say, "Ooo, nice jeans!" but to share bits of your life. Usually our outfits reflect what's going on in general. I know you were very happy to get back to your garden. Do you think having those earth thoughts would influence your general styling choices? No matter, I like authentic. I'm curious about where you'll go with this thread. Good questions.

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    1. Oh, you've got it! When I do post WIW, it's simply to share another expression of my daily life. But other stuff starts to creep in and I'm reserving some space to think about why, what, and how I might deal with that.
      Could be the gardening. . . or just the shift in perspective of being elsewhere, then coming back. And yes, mostly it's important to me that I be authentic, and sometimes that requires a bit of space. Thanks for the encouragement.

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  7. Oh, I have felt the ennui! I think it's so interesting that you have a motofleece from the Gap - I have a very similar one (only more heavy weight, I suspect) that I bought in the deep freeze in Amsterdam last July! If you'd bought it in Europe, you'd think it was the chicest choice ever :-)

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    1. I'm sure yours is much heavier -- this was part of one of those scoop-ups of goodies one can sometimes haul away from Gap sales. Haven't had any luck there for a year or so, then wandered in and came out with armloads. It was a very good buy, a French terry rather than actual fleece, and a bit skimpily-textured, but surprisingly wearable . . . Perhaps I should just pretend I bought it in Amsterdam . . .

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  8. Interesting that you and Pseu are on the same wavelength both in wanting WIW distance and in not being sure why. I look forward to more thoughts.

    Your outfit is the kind of outfit I'm most comfortable wearing.

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    1. I'm looking forward to seeing what Sue has to say. . .

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  9. You may not know that I used to have a co-authored style blog. We posted almost daily for almost two years and then it just got to be too much. The time factor was a major consideration, but I was also just tired of the constraints I seemed to feel with the kind of writing I could do with those posts. I ebb and flow with my desire now to attach my writing to what I'm wearing and how I project myself physically. I haven't done one of my Thursday Threads posts in several weeks, but I actually have one planned for this week.

    I really dig the cut of your jacket.

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    1. I wish I'd known that, R, as I definitely would have followed you. And yes, there are other constraints that bother me more than the time factor. I very much like the way you've expressed this, the "desire. . . to attach [your] writing to what [you're] wearing and how [you] project [yourself] physically.

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  10. I too have been less interested in reading all the fashion blogs that I used to only a short time ago. My favourites that I still read are mostly the ones that combine life concerns plus fashion. Even for these I'm commenting less often. As noted how many times can you say "That's beautiful/lovely/perfect for you" etc?

    Perhaps it's because it's hard to have a genuine friendship in blogland, which in some cases seems to be a tad self-centered? The blogs I read most tend to be the people I'd like to meet in real life.

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    1. I know what you mean! It's hard to be honest and meaningful in response to yet another WIW post -- I'm giving myself permission not to comment so often!

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    2. Should say that I appreciate you taking the time to comment here!

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  11. Your comments definitely resonate with me. I love fashion, but I often find that it's really just an excuse to write about something else. It gives me a "way in" to a topic. And some days I'm just not feeling it! I like having the freedom to write about whatever I want, or not write at all. Sometimes it's nice to just percolate for awhile....in a comfy outfit like yours, of course!

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    1. Yes! I like writing about what I'm wearing, or about fashion or style, more as a "way in" to a topic. Thanks for giving me such a good verb for what I'm doing right now -- percolating.

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  12. Bravo! I know in the summer months I sit at my computer and teach all day...in the most comfortable clothes possible. For me, dressing up for the blog is a good reminder, but YES, I have felt the ennui. For nearly a month, I would go thrifting and leave empty-handed. And during my window shopping project the clothing has seemed the same every where I go, up or down the price scale. I've found myself pondering how fast fashion has infected the entire world of fashion, even those on the high end. During all the miles I've traveled in the past month, away from the world of blogging, I've thought about "focus" and how being "focused", intentionally or not, seemingly excludes so many other good and interesting aspects of life on this planet.

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  13. Oh, I could hug you for this last observation! So much blogging advice insists that we need to define our blog niche, to focus our writing. But real life isn't focused, and while I value certain well-honed, clearly defined bloggers, I also like to glimpse some of the messy stuff as well. I like complexity and margins and thoughts left uncompleted if that's the only way they can be expressed. What I Wear is part of my life, so I will probably keep featuring it when it suits, but it's only part . . . and I really hope I won't "exclude so many other good and interesting aspects of life on this planet." Thanks for the help in thinking through my ennui. And here's to teaching in comfortable clothes! ;-)

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  14. Oh, I just had to comment - congrats on the impending new grandchild, LOVE your irises (have just had my art students painting irises) AND I look forward to reading more about your ennui with the whole 'fashion' thing. I go through (often long) phases of the same thing, where I think 'you know what, so long as I'm not offensive to look at, who the hell CARES - I'm busy being a useful, competent participant in humanity, why do I have to worry about how I look as well?'. Or something like that! Sometimes it feels like fun but sometimes it just feels like another obligation. I think maybe the compromise is the 'uniform' we talk about - we dress in a way that suits us and our lives, but isn't necessarily much more than functional; and sometimes we make how we dress more of a feature. A bit like eating at home as opposed to fine dining in a restaurant. Or something ... Not very articulate these days! But you should know I'm still reading.

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    1. So happy to hear from you! I miss your blogging altho' I do understand why you pulled back from it.
      So well said -- that's what I feel like in those phases: I'm contributing in other, more important (to me) ways; why do I have to monitor my appearance as well.
      Yet most of the time it's fun rather than an obligation. And yes, neat analogy, the home-eating vs. fine-dining. Both have their place, but the one imposes demands that can become tiresome, tyrannical.
      I'm sure I'll wander out of this ennui before long -- and I'm happy to know, meanwhile, that you're out there, my friend, still reading. . .

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  15. I too like what you are wearing. I think you look perfect for what is going on in this aspect of your life. And the jeans look great on you. Increasingly I seem to be focusing on wearing what makes me happy. I still love to look at clothes and fashion and probably will for a long time, but in the end I just want to put the things I love together and be done with it. Of course I am not in a cosmopolitan city like Paris either.

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    1. I, too, continue to enjoy the aesthetics of fashion, clothes, style, but I can sense some of the constraints they impose, the compromises I make with/for them. Focusing on what makes us happy to wear is a useful guide -- and somedays it's also nice just to have clothes that don't get in the way, that allow the rest of our lives to take priority.

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  16. I think your outfit exemplifies what Angie at YouLookFab terms as a surrendering of the self-imposed mandate to always aim for a long and lean silhouette and just 'break the rules' and wear what makes you feel good. Technically on your 'short and solid shape' (me too) one 'should not' wear cuffed jeans that land short on the ankle. But actually, I think you look great, truly youthful, not in a 'mutton' way but someone suffused with the energy and joie de vivre of youth, who is at home in themselves and radiating an authentic personal style anchored in a confident and radiant self. It gives me encouragement to dress more with what makes my heart sing rather than always trying to lengthen my short legs and shorten my long back - to hell with all that tiresome, anxious tweaking to conform to some au courant external ideal of 'long and lean = the be all and end all'.

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    1. Exactly right, Anon -- according to "the rules" I shouldn't be wearing the cuffed jeans. But I like the attitude they convey, inside and out -- and I also see some practical reasons for the cuff. I love that these jeans have a workmanlike quality, practical, clean, hard-wearing -- they manifest something much different than those I have to wear with heels. Not that I'm giving up my heels any day soon, but yes, there's something authentic that's working for me here, and I'm so pleased you can spot it. To hell, indeed, with tiresome, anxious, tweaking. No matter what I wear, I'm not going to look like 5'7 OR 115 pounds . .

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  17. Held off replying till I figured no one would read my comment but you. You have nailed it for me, the endless cycle of buy/display/buy more that is the sole content of certain style blogs. Where do they put it all?

    Then there is the n-word, narcissism. The women I admire most don't have time to document their OOTD; they are busy doing things they value more, and are not wrapped up in self-display and attention. I'd like to be one of those women.

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    1. Yes, it's tricky -- I like some because, let's face it, what we wear is a fascinating expression of who we are, but a steady diet is tiresome. And I worry about what values I help perpetuate, in whom I'm inciting envy, etc. I won't abandon these WIW posts, but I want them to be logically integrated as part of a diverse set of interests, another way of meeting the world. And you, by the way, you already are one of those women!

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  18. You look adorable. Perhaps that's a shallow response, but there you go.

    I find style fascinating, still. The anthropology of style as much as the aesthetic. I like to deconstruct the codes.

    As far as shopping, having gone back to work I had a natural wave of purchases to be made. At some point the wave will be spent. I'm definitely a uniform person, and I will find the few versions of the work uniforms now and that'll be that.

    Except. Except that when I have a salary, I love to spend my money on beautiful clothes. I've liked clothes ever since I got out of college, so it's not something caused by blogging. Exacerbated perhaps, but not caused.

    And the WIW posts, well, to me that feels quite subversive, given my culture. It also feels like the first time I've ever reaped any benefit from my looks.

    So there's a lot in this, for me.

    I read your blog because I love your thoughtfulness, because I like your smiling face, and because I still hope to make it up to Vancouver and visit:). Your style reflects you, so I enjoy seeing it.

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  19. Thanks, especially for the last paragraph, and I really do hope we have that Vancouver visit someday. I certainly don't mean to make anyone defensive -- I share your interest in the shopping and the WIW posts much of the time, but I'm wanting to sit with the distance I feel right now and see what that's about. I suspect some of the discomfort is important to listen to: some is childhood deep guilt about spending; some is responsible citizen concern about consumption; some is a longing for a deeper engagement with a wider range of intellectual and emotional pursuits; some is simple ennui. I also suspect some will pass and I'll be making room for my shallower pursuits again soon.
    As for the cultural sense of subversiveness around WIW posts, this applies, for women at least, at class levels far below high Wasp. To be womanly, feminine, is not to occupy public space, never mind to be calling attention to one's dress! This acculturation is another very likely culprit for the distance I'm feeling at the moment . . . but I'm sure I'll be back . . .

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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