Tag Archives: fashion

Fashion vs. Style: A Rant

[Okay, this post is gonna be a little out of character. A rant, yes, which is in character, but I feel compelled to write about fashion — on non-fashion. Mostly I’m avoiding posting a miserable rant about a bunch of personal shit that I’m processing. So…this. Until…that.]

I love thrift shops: Buffalo Exchange, Beacon’s Closet, or any of the fun stores on Haight Street in San Francisco. The fact that there aren’t two of the same things is one reason. Price, obviously, is another. But the idea that I’m not being subjected to the whims of an industry that only exists to keep us madly, mindlessly buying new shit is the main reason. However, even though there isn’t someone dictating what will and won’t be available — the “buyer” for department stores and the like — doesn’t mean that decisions aren’t being made. And that makes me mad. Because along with purchasing in these places, there’s selling. And I’d like to sell. But every time I take clothing in, I get turned away. “This isn’t in style,” the snotty 20-something says to me. “No one’s wearing these anymore,” the gay FIT student sniffs. Well isn’t that the point?

I’m sure what they’re thinking is, “This old broad couldn’t possibly own anything fashionable.” Which is, in fact, true. Because I don’t believe in fashion. I hate it. I refuse to even open a fashion magazine because they’re designed to make you feel like you’re not enough: not rich enough, young enough, thin enough, FASHIONABLE enough. They depress the hell out of me. It’s all such a scam. The fashion industry wants you to BUY BUY BUY! THIS season’s colors! THIS season’s handbags! THIS season’s skirt length or sleeve poof or fucking eyeshadow shade. It’s arbitrary, dreamt up CRAP!

The whole purpose of shopping at a thrift store — or second-hand store, or consignment store or any OTHER store that isn’t selling you brand new clothing Fashion Avenue is trying to sell you — is that you aren’t buying fashion. You’re buying style. A store opened up downstairs from me. They have a huge poster in their window: “Fashion is forever.” No, fashion is fleeting. STYLE is forever. What was in fashion last year is now, well, last year. You’re supposed to feel out of fashion, toss that shit in the trash and buy this year’s whateverthefuck. Or give it away. So that it winds up at Goodwill, where “vintage” clothing store people shop, buy and resell to you at a marked up price! 

So back to these damn re-sale shops. Since I don’t have a lot of money, they are my main resource for “new” clothes. Though even if I won the lottery, I’d still shop in them because I enjoy the hunt. I love finding some random, incredible piece. I’m not looking for a skirt length or “line” (read: shape) because I’m not even aware of what line I should be looking for. I’m just browsing for something that strikes my fancy. Something unusual. Something ME!

Once upon a time when you went shopping all you could BUY was what was in fashion. If the line didn’t look good on you, too bad. You were stuck with skinny jeans or pencil skirts. And don’t even get me started on sizes. If you weren’t a size 12 you were stuck in the mumu department. When thrift stores became “fashionable” that changed the whole dynamic. Everything was in fashion. Anything was cool to wear. Peasant skirts your thing? Groovy! Here’s a dozen! Striving to look like a 50’s housewife? Not just poofy dresses with crinolines to wear underneath but aprons! Who even wears aprons anymore? Beaded cardigans? Here ya go. Of course, now you can buy brand new beaded cardigans but in 1979, the only ones available were from the 50s. In thrift stores.

Women too young to remember the days before don’t know how lucky they are to shop for shoes and have, literally, hundreds of choices. Flats, wedges, platforms, point toes, Mary Janes, all of it. Pants come with and without pleats, boyfriend cut and boot cut and skinny tight. Hip-hugger or high-waisted. Stretchy and spandex and magical fabrics that weren’t even around in the 70s. There are so many choices that you can actually have a style all your very own.

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Which leads me back to, how can anyone in these stores say, “We aren’t buying that. It’s not in fashion.”? I was sent away with a pair of sequined “hostess” pants. It was around Thanksgiving. Hostess pants are flowy pants that women once wore to “hostess” in. They’re sold every holiday season to, yes, hostess in! They aren’t ever out of fashion because they’re perpetually in fashion. The fact that they were sequined makes them even more desirable. And that they’re long on me — probably about a 36″ inseam — would make them exponentially more desirable in fucking CHELSEA where drag queens might be more inclined to shop. Which was where I was turned away. Sheesh! I almost guffawed in the idiot’s face. But there’s no arguing with someone who’s no doubt sketching the next decade’s “fashion” in his Design Illustration class at FIT. Which will only be a recycling of shit I’ve already worn anyway. (See current styles. WHO would’ve imagined we’d be wearing shoulder pads again? Hammer pants? Holy shit! What next? Hostess pants?!)

A strict eye on what’s au courant makes more sense in the structured consignment shops like Knimble or the off-shoots of Goodwill like Georgi & Willow or GW, both higher end, more curated “boutiques,” where part of what they’re selling is the fashionable shopping experience. But in a place that prides itself on “different” why would they want their stock to be so “same?” An establishment touting itself as selling “vintage” shouldn’t be concerned about what’s in — or out — of fashion. If I want what’s current I can shop at Old Navy. And buy a new t-shirt for less than the pit-stained one in the thrift shop! 

The children who are working in these stores love to dismiss things they deem as “not in fashion.” I’ve had them say the most condescending things to me. So I decided to get specific. I recently asked a guy, “Why aren’t you interested in this [skirt]? Everyone loves this label.” (A label, by the way, that I’d bought in a tiny Brooklyn market stall long before the label became a crazy national brand.} “They do,” he replied, “but this line isn’t in style,” ARGH! EXACTLY! If it WERE you could go into any fucking store and buy it! THIS skirt is for people who don’t like — or look good in — what’s currently “fashionable!” Oy. I guess I’m destined to only buy at these stores and not sell. Email me if you’d like an awesome pair of sequined hostess pants…

No Pants December: Day 15

My friend Lynne was visiting and we went to see the Daphne Guiness exhibit at FIT. It was truly astounding. And I was in dirty laundry! I’m really not very interested in fashion but I do love clothes, especially the kind of clothes Ms. Guiness collects: McQueen, Lacroix, Givenchy. So many rhinestones and feathers such sumptuous fabrics! Anyway…

After Lynne hopped on a northbound train I had to get ready for “A Celebration for the Legendary Don Hill.” (See review here soon.) I wanted to look rock ‘n’ roll so I’d picked up a silver miniskirt at Gap. Yes, Gap. It was on sale. The salesgirl talked me into the smaller of the two sizes that fit ’cause it was sexier. However, I couldn’t really sit down in it. I may return the skirt today and buy one size up: 8. Uh-huh, that’s right; I bought the size 6! Holy shit!

I paired the shimmery skirt with a plain black long-sleeved top, black tights and my fab Fluevogs. The ensemble still needed something, though, so I accessorized with a sheer black scarf edged in matte silver paillettes that matched the skirt perfectly. I tied the scarf in a bow and was good to go!

UPDATE! I went back to the Gap to swap the size 6 for size 8 and the skirt was marked down! So I not only got a new skirt that I can actually sit down in, I got $12 back as well. Ho ho huzzah!

Visit my friend Amber’s NO PANTS 2011 blog.

No Pants December: Day 5

Okay, I warned you: I’m lazy. Today was an even lazier day. The only time I made it out of the house was to run a few errands before I hit the gym. So I was in my gym clothes. I realize it’s sorta cheating but, hey, it wasn’t technically pants! No zippers or buttons…just stretch cotton and elastic. While in my apartment, both before and after wearing the aforementioned gym clothes, I was sportin’ my uber fashionable red plaid nightgown. Which I’m still sportin’. So there. It’s a gown, motherfucker!

Visit Amber Clisura’s NO PANTS 2011 Blog


The Baroness’s Birthday Bash

On Sunday, November 7, fashionable fetishists assembled to celebrate The Baroness’s birthday and the 13th anniversary of her Fetish Retinue. It marked the season debut of the monthly at its new venue, White Noise, which is a gorgeous space that is neither white nor noisy. The black flocked wallpaper, crystal chandeliers and gilt mirrors make for an elegant, gothic ambiance. It’s an intimate space with couches arranged in a way to encourage conversation. Though upon my somewhat early arrival, those couches were all occupied. It was a packed house! The Baroness was welcoming guests and looking resplendent in a turquoise latex fishtail skirt and corset.

I consistently appreciate the wide age range The Baroness attracts. It’s nice that no one feels out of place. However, I had invited two 20-something young ladies to accompany me – in addition to two friends of a certain age – and I don’t believe they were impressed. It could have been because of that wide age range or it might’ve been that no one seemed to notice them. Youth, even with exposed bras, didn’t have quite the impact one might imagine. Other guests were suitably attired in head-to-toe black if not head-to-toe latex and everything in between. The bright hues of rubber were complemented by the festive balloons provided by JParty. An ample bar staff ensured that no one waited long for a beverage.

The evening’s fashion show was an interesting juxtaposition of textures, pairing knit goth appliquéd cardigans from Vampire Freaks with latex garments by The Baroness. The exuberant models cavorted onstage, culminating in the birthday cake and gift-giving finale.

For me, having fun is like falling off a log. Easy! I’ve always found The Baroness’s events to be convivial and enjoyable. But I’m sure my even-better-than-usual good time was primarily due to the tall handsome British gentleman who was generously giving me his undivided attention! Er, and a beer or two. Of course, when my friend arrived with a familiar “date” in tow, things got even more interesting: more beers, birthday spankings and the tactile pleasures experienced while wearing a latex bodysuit!

Join The Baroness next month, December 5, for her annual holiday soiree! There will be tree-trimming, latex-clad elves and loads of yuletide cheer! The Fetish Retinue takes place on the first Sunday of every month at White Noise, 225 Avenue B. Doors are at 9:00pm. More info at Baroness.com.

Visit The Baroness at 530b East 13th St. between Aves. A & B.
Visit Vampire Freaks at 189 Avenue A between 11th & 12th Sts.