Sunday’s posts are where I want to talk about style and issues surrounding fashion and style, and although I’d like to be objective on these issues they will in all honesty just be opinion pieces but hopefully not controversial or offensive, if anything a little helpful but sometimes might be ranty. I realise after writing this, they will probably end up as none of those but a bunch of word hastily and haphazardly strung together but here goes.
So some one the other week on twitter lamented that they really liked a dress but it was too girly and they probably couldn’t pull it off. In reality the dress wasn’t too girly at all and they could have totally pull it off but the thing that got me was the use of the phrase ‘too girly’. Although want constitutes as too girly is subjective, as someone who is very against gender stereotyping, I feel that when using these phrases sometimes have a negative connotation attached to it, even when none is meant. As a child and teenager I was called a tomboy and this annoyed me to no end but then being called girly also made me wince just as much because to me I was being neither, I was just being me and just got annoyed for being criticised for either being too much of one and not the other, which in turn is actually a criticism of me. It comes no surprise then that I rejected both and just kind of blended in anonymously so people would stop judging and labelling me. As kids we pretty much taught to seek approval and if we don’t fit in, the effects can be long standing.
Developing your personal style can be hard, in our teen years we tend to rebel against whatever it is that our parents have taught us about how to dress because we assume they are trying to dress us like them and who wants to be like their parents? Until I was in my twenties I had all but stopped wearing dresses because they were deemed girly, then I realised people were wrong, they were just dresses. Being a faithful disciple of the gen x grunge era, my uniform at this point was jeans and baggy band t-shirts because it basically meant less objectification of my body, the less girly, the less hassle in my books. My weight was under constant scrutiny as was the way I dressed, it was never right and someone always had an opinion. Most of the time I would be staring back at them silently wondering what on earth made them the expert and other time it was a very vocal fuck off!
Embracing my femininity was probably the most rebellious thing I could do in regards to myself, it broke all the rules in my book, the fact that I’ve always liked dresses was almost a dirty secret. Weird I know. But I also think confidence was major part of this and making my own clothes which in turn helped discover that I don’t need to fit into everyone else’s perception of me and that just because I listen to heavy metal doesn’t mean that I have stick to the perceived dress code for that ‘tribe’.
I decided to treat my clothing taste the same way as I treated my musical taste, everyone thought that I’m was solely into heavy metal but actually my music taste always has been quite broad, in the sense that if I like it, I’ll listen to it. To be honest my favourite genre of music is movie soundtracks but that’s a post for another time. I adopted the same attitude towards my clothes, in that if I like it I’ll wear it or make it. This was a slightly harder process as people can’t judge what you’re listening to on your iPod (or walkman) as easy as they can judge what your wearing but as I’ve grown older fitting in has become less of a priority.
I think one of the main reasons I got into vintage scene, a way to be embrace my femininity after being inspired by old movies, you could be smart and sassy and glamorous all in one look, plus I liked the fit and style of the clothing from certain eras. I have never been one for traditional office wear, I’m not even sure how I managed to stick out an office job from hell for 13 years but needs must and all. Some of us are not meant to work in offices but that doesn’t mean you have to blend in. When I got more confident in my making skills, I got more confident in wearing my stuff and dressing to my taste and moods, some days would be a one flower in the hair day, others a pin curl and all the flowers, some people would say I looked nice, others would look at me and why are you dressed that way, or where are going to be dressed all fancy like that, or aren’t you so girly now, like they needed to voice their approval of this new found confidence. At the end of the day their opinions were none of my business!
We use phrases like too girly, too tomboy, you’re fat etc like they are insults and they’re not. We should be embracing our inner girlies and tomboys and be proud of them, just like we should be proud of our bodies no matter what they look like. So one day you want to wear a pink frilly dress, the next New Rock or DM boots, the next both, it doesn’t matter whether it’s too girly or not. To be honest I think we should all, no matter what our gender is, embrace whatever makes us feel comfortable the most and not what makes other people comfortable, which is what I think we’re sort of trained to do. We spend so much time trying to seek other approval and fit in, we all just end up miserable.
My annoyance is not the fact that items are too girly or too butch but they way these phrases are conveyed as a criticism of the style itself. It is important not dismiss something based on a stereotype that has been attached to it, as to be honest there is nothing wrong with being dressed too girly or too butch if this is who you are, if you don’t like it then so be it but to say you can’t get away with wearing something because it’s too girly or too butch etc is bullshit! In a world where fashion choices are being increasingly being stereotyped from such a young age, it makes it harder and harder to break these stereotypes when we become adults.
At the end of the day clothes are what they are and that is clothes, they are a way to express our individuality not define our gender! Personally if I had my way all clothes wouldn’t be gendered but then I’m not in charge. They are a reflection of our personality, a small glimpse into our own private world. These days I tend to sway between the feminine and masculine but I think the cut of the clothing or how the clothing has been produced is more important to me these days than whether it is feminine or masculine. I’m just as in love with a well cut traditional three piece suit, as I am a haute couture dress! All I can really say is invest in your clothing as you would invest in yourself, wisely!