What’s In and Why

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

G’day and welcome to blog #38. We’re back in Auckland after a weekend trip to Gisborne. As part of my new stay-a-while, cafe-enjoying, people-watching mode, I’ve found myself reading more magazines than usual in the last few weeks. Cafes seem to stockpile them. What’s caught my eye has been the fashion pieces that appear in almost every magazine except Mechanics Weekly. Many of these pieces have a focus on what’s in – the current fashion trends. This intrigues me.

What’s In (and how can we know for sure?). Here’s three recent examples of fashion items that are deemed to be in right now – “bang on trend” apparently:

  1. Military. Apparently, clothing that is military inspired is in. These are items that have things like shoulder detailing (like epaulets), brass buttons and other detailing (like decorative studs), and combat boots. I read about this trend before leaving Australia, so when I came across this military-inspired jacket recently, I knew a photo opportunity had magically appeared. Note skeptical look on my dial.
  2. Clogs. This is an item of footwear made primarily out of wood. This gives you an indication of how flexible it is, and how much support it may provide to one’s foot. Clogs are in because, I read, Karl Lagerfield (the “kaiser”) used them in one of his recent runway shows. The fashion editor where I read this did make an amusing comment which was along the lines of: if I couldn’t wear them when I was 14, I wont be trying them again now. Touche. Plus, clogs don’t look good with orthopedic inserts.
  3. Chunky knitwear. “Artisan” knitwear is the go, with chunky, fluffy and hybrid wools being used to create cardigans, sweaters and dresses that previously were the sole domain of cottage industries and sold at weekend markets along with organic capsicum and second hand cutlery. Some of the items illustrating this piece were indeed like works of art. And that’s probably where they should be displayed – on a wall somewhere, not on somebody’s body. Especially if that person is shorter than 6ft3 and weighs more than 40kgs.

The thing that trips me up about these fashion trends is, well, a two things actually:

  • who decides this stuff? I’ve seen The Devil Wears Prada and everything, and I still don’t get who determines fashion trends, or more precisely, why they get to decide them. Yes, I heard the monologue that Meryl Streep delivers to the hapless Anne Hathaway about where a fashion trend starts (which in short is: on some designer’s runway, which other designers then copy, which fake-artists with cheaper price tags then copy, then into some bargain bin where Anne’s character Andy* digs it out of. *[Insert own name here if a bargain shopper]). Ah, so our fashion reality is determined by the fantasy world that is a haute couture fashion show. Good to know.
  • why do we buy it? Where is our sense of personal style, our awareness of what suits us (regardless of what’s being touted as being ‘in’), our own internal style-meister? Pumpkin skirts for example should be worn by reed thin girls who are 11ft tall. This means that only the blue-skinned cast of Avatar should even consider wearing them. And as for chunky handcrafted-looking knitwear? Sheesh. If you aren’t a fisherman on the Irish Sea, it’s hard to pull off and look like anything other than the Michelin man. Bulky sweaters add, well, bulk. And as for clogs, and military-inspired clothing and [insert whatever fashion trend some magazine is saying is in here] ….. it’s easy to see how some women can get confused and end up looking like a mish-mash of all manner of fashion trends. Where’s YOU in all this?

French style. An article in one of the many magazines I’ve been reading lately about Ines de la Fressange (French model and long-term muse of the aforementioned kaiser of fashion) caught my attention. She was asked about French style:

In England, people follow fashion much more than in France. I imagine Bridget Jones working in an office and dying to go and buy a pair of shoes at lunchtime, you know. French women have a kind of arrogance. It’s ‘I ignore fashion. I do my own thing’“.

I don’t see it as arrogance. I see it more as an internal certitude, a level of self assurance that no amount of pressure and attention from the fashion media can shake. Sure, they may be criticised (got a lesson in that myself recently, so know how that feels). But even more importantly: they know themselves and are true to that. A fashion-leaning version of “to thine own self be true”, I suppose. Ah, the bard. Shakespeare said all the stuff that was really worth saying. Right?

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