July 29, 2011

Black and White, Again

This is a look that is harder for me to deal with visually than it is to wear physically. The sensory wearing of these two pieces of clothing feels right. The skirt is a heavy cotton, akin to a good oxford shirt material, and is lined with another, thinner, cotton piece underneath. The top/dress is a rayon-polyester blend, which I would usually shun, only its tag tells me it was made in Paris, France. I'm pretty sure those cancel each other out in the arithmetic of consumption, leaving a remainder that is a basic, long, black, full button-up, long sleeve dress that can also be worn as a shirt. Just think of all the button options.

To give you an idea of the feeling of this outfit, it provides me the sense that I'm a lithe 80s pseudo-bohemian goth on the top, and a hippie peasant pining for the garb of the Victorian era on the bottom. (This is just an example.)

Truthfully, though, pining for the past isn't that appealing to me. I just never tire of the boldest of contrasts, black and white. And I like this silhouette and the play of geometry depending on how many buttons are buttoned, and whether I put one or two hands in the skirt's pockets. Despite my languid, un-made-up face, this is me having fun with clothes. Really.

July 19, 2011

Vague Days

July is a peak in the calendar year. July holds my father's and my brother's birthdays. And just around the corner, in August, the birthdays of my husband and my best friend. In past Julys I traveled to beautiful places, held intimate conversations, and forged bonds that taught me what is precious and wonderful about life. My Julys are joyous and impassioned, deep and hot and true. In the best of my adult years, I've lived July with the whole of my being, extended myself with others until the distances between us disappeared. I've fallen in love in July. It is the month of my most treasured memories.

That is a lot to live up to. Halfway through this July I am struck by how detached it has been, I have been. I displaced myself and wander streets in a city that feels at once my ideal home and a distant stranger. Not trying hard to embrace it -- because my love for this place comes so easy -- I wonder at my empty heart, my lethargic legs. I go to bed early and assemble myself to walk through a series of daily tasks, again.

Costume National shirt from Crossroads in the Castro. Pants from Etsy.

Do you know these pants? They have no label inside, but are quite well made. Perfect single pleats at the hips and back of the knees.

Mesh top shoes (!) are vintage Nine West from Community Thrift in the Mission.


I have many new clothes. Bought here, in my new city, secondhand. They fit well, and are of wonderful quality. Some are designer labels. Some have no labels. Each new garment I have bought (and there are many) felt right. With these purchases I assure myself that I have a past, that some things are certain, that I will have a bright future.

July 18, 2011

We don't have much but we have more than enough.

While piecing together a new home, I've been taking some whimsical pictures. I hope you don't mind me sharing.

I picked these flowers from the side of the road.

New thrift store dishes.

The handle on our tea kettle broke this morning. Bummed. Gonna have to contact the people at Paula Deen cookware.

Evening view

Hyper minimal living is nice for now, but man, I need a couch and also some comfortable chairs to sit in. The decorating choices feel overwhelming. Wish I had a whole bunch of money to go along with my #firstworldproblems.

July 11, 2011

Still Neutral

Another Saturday look, this time for a day spent walking around in the Castro. Nothing beats these pants, they fucking rule. They are like my superhero cape because I feel unstoppable in them. Also, billowy-ness. Nevermind.
Pants by Shirin Guild. Ya'll long time readers know about my love for her, professed here, and here. (And if you followed that first back link, woah! olden times!)

More recently, I came across this post, "History and the Harem Pant," on the Threadbared blog that made me pause and consider a bit more deeply my pant nomenclature.

An excerpt:
"While I enjoy the intellectual and artistic transformation of the shape of the body through clothing (see Issey Miyake’s Pleats, Please!), I also find it useful to be skeptical of the ways that geopolitical rubrics of race, nation, gender and sexuality are mapped through such transformations (think bullshit Orientalisms perpetrated by hostile fashion journalists about the so-called “Hiroshima bag lady” of 1980s Japanese designers). The most obvious yet often unasked question –why the term harem to qualify this pant?– requires a history lesson."
Consider me now historically schooled.

This jacket is another super worn, comfy piece I'm very pleased to have brought into my life a few years ago. Against my better judgement, I wear it all the time with almost anything.

Super soft, worn out vintage tee... This is starting to sound like I'm describing my outfit for a pajama party.

Tactile enjoyment of textile textures.

So lank. Shoulda been a sk8er boi.


And it was on this day in history that yours truly felt like she understood herself, her body, her desired look, her desires in general, not as an individual, whole, fully-formed entity but as a woman in a continual process of, well, fuck it, I'll just say it: becoming.

July 8, 2011

Heavy Friday

Do you know about Adam Curtis? I suspect he's more well-known in the UK, where the BBC airs his films. I saw his Power of Nightmares in a college class but didn't know much about Curtis, the director, until recently. Turns out he is just my kind of life inspiration: a former college professor turned BBC news man whose creative work consists of making what I would call an ongoing multimedia thesis out of found footage and interviews. Dude is bringing it in terms of ethics, philosophy, cultural critique, science studies, and more! And he's doing it on public television, disregarding limiting academic categories and basically exploring his own, ongoing, changing, inquisitive process through a creative medium.

Watching his most recent, All Watched Over By Machines of Loving Grace, my first thought was, "holy shit, you would never see this on TV in the US!" It's just so goddamn good.

All Watched Over... is recommended viewing. It manages to succinctly describe how scientific and philosophic ideas combine and are taken up by those in power, while showing many involved as fragile and often slightly deranged real humans. And it includes some bizarro footage of my favorite straw woman for hating on the cult of individualism, Ayn Rand, losing her shit over a love triangle that may or may not involve Alan Greenspan.

It's a culmination of many themes he explores in previous films, and in this he does the best job (compared to earlier films) of balancing his viewpoint with creative juxtapositions open to many interpretations. This is some fresh, juicy mind food. Healthy like a fruit or vegetable, to give your brain a detox.

Michael and I were hooked on Curtis after this, and have since explored his oeuvre (that word always makes me chuckle inside). His wikipedia page has a helpful filmography with synopses. Here's what I know so far:
- The Century of the Self is mostly about the rise of consumerism. Pretty much a refresher course for anyone who already has their liberal arts degree. The main revelation for me was the deep exploration of Freud's nephew who basically dominated in all areas of US power behind the scenes during the 20th century and invented "PR" after, according to him, the Germans made "propaganda" a bad word. Then he used his PR talent to make his uncle Freud famous in the US. We haven't got past part one, after which we switched to:
- The Trap: What Happened to Our Dream of Freedom? We just began watching this series, and so far shit runs deep. The title of part one is "Fuck You, Buddy." Taking on the modern concept of freedom is awesome. Yet this is where I have to pause. Machines remains my favorite, but this is starting to feel like a slog through various tangents, all interesting, but perhaps a bit overbearing. At this point I remain committed to watching these, but have reached a British accent narrator overload and need a break.
It was just about this time when internet serendipity pointed me toward this music video. Which is a sexier, tongue in cheek critique of the very same ideas at the core of The Trap. I feel like the internet just took me from deep backstory to resulting phenomena. Also notable: this song's Kate Bush sample.

These videos raise so many questions. Not sure if that statement includes the corny pop video directly above, you decide. I highly recommend them as starting points for further reflection, and maybe even discussion among humans.

Here, I'll go first: Overall I'm on board with the general direction of what we might call the developing Curtis thesis. These are deeply researched, brilliantly executed intellectual explorations of topics and themes at the heart of Western culture. Curtis also rules for leaving academia and delivering some tough thought morsels to a much wider audience. But, as many Western white men speaking primarily to their own audience (ie those whose brains were molded in the Western educational system, so, a very large and diverse demographic including myself and everyone I know), Curtis seems pretty committed to the notion of a human agency** as the sole history-making force (an idea I'm presently working against). And in focusing overtly on his peer group as world-makers, he might possibly be reinforcing the view of Powerful White Men as such, which gets a bit tiring after a while. I worry that overdetermining the powerful reach of "the powerful" scares, immobilizes, or angers, and is part of the self-reflexive loop of apathy and irony that is pretty played out among my generation of privileged ex-suburban adult-kids.

If you watch any of the above, I would love to know what you think. If you are already well-versed in Curtis filmography, do you suggest any of the others in particular?


**Teacher's Note: Wikipedia is nice for a cursory intro and snapshot definition. But any 'pedia is kind of a suspect delivery system in terms of how we know things. The reading of original texts, preferably with pen in hand, remains necessary for actual expansion of knowledge. Sorry for the bad news, but summaries by white men online remain a poor substitute for eduction. 

July 5, 2011

Peachy-beige and Mauve

This is the second installment in the series "My Summer Look: Minimal Hippie." Boring-ass part one happened yesterday while you were drinking Budweiser and playing volleyball. (Although, really, the first instance of the look was publicized a while back, brought to you without the stupid introduction. (It also appears that this is the summer of monochrome.))

On Saturday, Michael and I walked to Golden Gate Park. I didn't feel quite so much like a tool requesting photos of my outfit since the place was swarming with tourists. This was taken after we sat on the steps watching countless DSLR-wielding visitors stop to pose with a nearby bonsai tree on a pedestal.

These fools in blue were on their way to the little tree statuette to get their vacation pose on. I think they add some nice contrast to this shot.

LOL, literally.

Looking back, this outfit seems to be about bringing together lovely colors with hideous names. I bought these vintage mauve gaucho pants in Berkeley last weekend. The peachy-beige silk top is from a vintage shop in St. Paul, MN. See by Chloe plastic sandals also used, also from Minnesota.

The look and feel of a skirt, only... pants.

Other pant option...

Fun with shadows...


And just because the gentleman behind the camera doesn't want to be seen, doesn't mean the world shouldn't know about these kicks. Vintage "Vanosaurs" complete any casual look.


"In 1856, while trying to synthesize artificial quinine, 18-year-old chemistry student William Perkin instead produced a murky residue. Fifty years later, he described the event: he "was about to throw a certain residue away when I thought it might be interesting. The solution of it resulted in a strangely beautiful color." Perkin had stumbled across the world's first aniline dye, a color that became known as mauve" (emphasis mine).

-From the hyperbolically titled Mauve: How One Man Invented a Color that Changed the World, a top ranking book from the category "Should Have Just Been a Wikipedia Page."

July 4, 2011

Take this with a grain of salt**

I've been dreaming up a new summer look since early springtime, and I've finally started rolling it out as the temperatures rise. And yes, as in years past, I've named it. It's called MINIMAL HIPPIE.

Please, let me explain.

("like a moth to a flame, burned by the fire...")

Minimal Hippie is a natural progression. It incorporates much of what I already own. I finally have a number of quality items that I love and want to wear repeatedly, and I'm finding new combinations to work out this look. It's not a trend I sought out via new purchases, but what has started to coalesce in terms of my "personal style," (a phrase I'm pretty sure was invented by our capitalist overlords to keep us spending our way to fulfillment).

On the progression of Minimal Hippie...
Me, a hippie? Could it be? Did it start with this hair? I have been consciously working toward 70s Yoko hair, which I google regularly and in a few more blunt cuts should achieve. Did this start in middle school when I bought that paisley maxi skirt, hemp necklace, leather sandals, and incense, which lasted for like one season? Did it begin last summer when I bought Birkenstocks? Perhaps its origins lies in all of these urges, and more, like my secret love for the earthy scents wafting through overpriced co-op grocery stores.

Wanting to be "minimalist"/failing: By my 20s, having disavowed all of the things listed above, I embrace the grayscale, tight black pants, and played up my also longstanding love of 80s and 90s minimalist designers. But I could never really pull off the chic, polished, controlled looks. I repressed my hippie urges, but I think they were always there, foiling my attempts at cool.

Of course I think the former is way more embarrassing than the latter. I've also assumed the two mutually exclusive. But they are not! They are the perfect marriage... of things I want to wear. I like minimalism for reasons that betray it's "pure" meanings. I like plain, solid blocks of color and dislike most jewelry. But I also like things that billow in the wind, sandals, and an excuse to have unkempt hair.

("...my love is blind, can't you see my desire?")

Mostly, though, I just like the juxtaposition of these two loaded terms. They are both so silly! Everything I just explained above is my weird thought process, but the outfits I will share with you in the coming days could be described in so many different ways that have nothing to do with these dumb words. Or I could just not describe things at all and just be. That would be much more cool and mysterious.

But this would not be a blog it I weren't a chronic over-explainer and over-sharer.

Pleats, Thank You