Saturday, 22 March 2014

Secret Confessions of a Baggy Sweater Wearer

I know it's difficult to believe but I don't always look fabulous.  Even in addition to the pyjamas and various elf costumes that are worn on my stay home and lie down days, I have a bit of a penchant for dowdy looks.  I think it might require a name like haute bag lady.  Perhaps it already has a name.  It's not a look I've actually attempted to wear, though I do love to toss on a baggy sweater and a pair of boots with my skirts.   It's a look I think of as winter hippie, it's clearly thrifted and carefully thought out and yet looks rather like any old thing was piled on just to keep warm.  It will nearly always involve at least two skirts, one longer than the other, thick socks and leggings, sturdy boots. multiple layers on top generally long and usually a scarf.  The coat, if there is one, will be a man's tweed jacket,  There may or may not be a hat. The colours will be dark, and muddy, which is partly what appeals to me.  The fabrics will be natural fibres, sometimes even looking homespun.

The woman who wears this outfit often has a dog.  She might possibly drive a vintage volkswagon or volvo but is also quite likely to get around by walking or cycling.  She shops at the thrift shops of course, but she isn't really lacking money despite hinting at that with her wardrobe.  She also shops at the alternative foods market, which has higher prices and exotic "health foods".
 I've never looked at such a woman and thought, oh you look fat in all those layers, or frumpy or dowdy.  I look at it and think oh cool.  I wish I had the courage to wear that.  I wish I could wear it and not look like some sort of ruffled sausage.  I want to thumb my nose at the idea of having to look sleek and chic. But of course I want to have my cake and eat it too because I don't really want to look like a sausage.  And I want to mix my food metaphors too because cake and sausages are all tasty.  I'm a rebel like that!

  She may or may not embrace various aspects of a modern hippie lifestyle but clearly she doesn't embrace the conventional ideas of how clothes should make your body look.  This appeals to  me.  I like this idea of messing with the standard ideas of figure flattery.  I like taking pretty things and making them a bit ugly.  I love the concepts of jolie-laide, laissez-faire, and deshabille and although all of those can be expressed without french, they just sound better that way.   I love juxtaposition and disregard for convention.  I also love my clothes to be comfortable and easy to throw on.  But apparently I want to both flatter my figure and not flatter it. 

It's a bit like makeup.  I know how to apply and wear makeup.  If I had to do a full face (and I can't really imagine why I would) I could do it and do it well.  I am just not interested in doing it.  I know how I am supposed to dress my body to flatter my figure.  I know how to pair up the pretty things and look like a lady out for tea.  Sometimes I need to follow those rules a bit, just to remind myself that I do have a shape, that I am capable of making myself look attractive.  And other times I want to say F**K it!  I am supposed to wear a nice fitted top with this so I'm damn well going to wear a big baggy sweater.  And boots of course.

And then how do I reconcile my love of beading and embroidery with deliberate frumpery.  Well that will be my own special challenge.  I'm sure I can do it.  It's cold and windy today.  That seems perfect for some artful layering and of course, a hat!  Here is a tunic dress recently purchased at the thrift shop, and a non-baggy sweater thrifted a few years ago.  Leggings are warmer than tights and with the addition of bulky socks and leg warmers even more so.


  

You might be thinking to yourself, she really needs some more accessories.  I would say to you, yes only I tend to forget them.  In fact it is a challenge for me to remember to put on my glasses, my watch and grab my cell phone before I leave home.  I will always have on earrings, as I can't stand the empty holes.  But the bangles and necklaces tend to decorate my dresser more than they decorate me.  Beading and embroidery is like accessories already there for me.





  

8 comments:

  1. I love your sense of humor! I think the look you describe is generally called "bohemian" or "boho", yes? It's this very artistic, very free-spirited, typically very layered kind of look. I imagine Helena Bonham Carter - she is very cool indeed, very inspiring! I agree with you about figure flattering stuff. It is all fine, but it does not have to always be what we aim for in our outfits. I like variety, there are so many thing in us we want to express - just figure flattering alone would get boring to me really soon.
    And I like free-spirited women. I think this sort of look is very much you, as you are your own woman for sure! I love the socks with zippers - how fun! And the sweater. And the booties. I think it all works together well. I would probably add more layers, like scarf, a longer skirt... will have to think about it! :)
    I really like your writing and enjoy visiting your blog. I read many of your previous posts the other day, and it felt like we had a chat for a couple of hours. :)

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    1. OH I know what you mean about feeling like you've been chatting with me. I have found that on some blogs where I lurked for a long time-months perhaps- before ever leaving a comment I sometimes come across a bit overly familiar because I feel like I know the blog writer. I write the way I would talk so I'm sure it does feel like we have been chatting. You are so kind and complimentary, you make me feel like I am succeeding with my writing. Thank you.

      Re. the outfit I was trying to lighten up a bit for spring and so I didn't add the longer skirt underneath. I usually do wear scarves but chose not to so I could show off the embroidery on the tunic. While in the car I ended up with the sweater zipped up to my chin-lol. In the store I could lower the zip again. I love Helena B-C she is delightfully wacky and I am quite fond of layers. I suppose you are right about the boho thing. I kind of cringe at that term because although admittedly I like much of it, it now conjurs up images of skinny young things in cowboy boots and really short cut offs all sporting identical long hair with "beachy waves" or braids.

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  2. the look you´r craving for was a big thing in 80´s europe - called "clochard look". always with fingerless gloves :-)
    but i cant see any problem why you should not running around like this. you don´t have to please a company/boss and men who only see a woman when she brings her curves to the market you can forget anyway!
    the actual outfit lacks some volume in the skirt department - that you can better :-)
    <3

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    1. Oh that's interesting-'clochard look'. Yes you are right about the fingerless gloves, and sometimes they are layered over other gloves. What I have noticed though is that the sort of woman who tends to go for this look has a certain type of hair-thick, coarse and wavy. I could indeed add some volume in the skirt department, but I was trying to lighten up for spring-lol.

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  3. I like the shorter length on you, Shawna! Accessories aren't obligatory; neither is dressing according to all those dreary, over-prescriptive "rules" so beloved of TV stylists. They assume that there is a template that all women should strive for (ie. taller, thinner, younger, with curves - but not too much!) Pah, we don't have to be slaves to that! Experimentation, comfort, function, creativity, playfulness - these are good too! xxx

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    1. Rules are made to be broken, as they say! I am vain enough not to want to look like a sausage but I also want to wear what I want to wear. So I'm striving for that happy middle ground somewhere. I'm cautions with short skirts-want to avoid the whole mutton dressed as lamb thing, but with tights they are fine. I think bare legs and stilettos would be out of my comfort zone. I have to have the earrings. I would turn around and drive home even if I were nearly at my destination if I'd forgotten the earrings. Or I'd get myself into a shop and buy a pair. But any other accessories are sort of hit and miss. I usually accessorize with cat fur.

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  4. I like that cropped cardi and short skirt, too. If you don't feel comfy in bangles and rings then don't, cat fur's a great accessory, one of my faves. xxx

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    1. Well I love them and have lots. I do wear two or three rings permanently. I think it's mostly because I am usually at home and don't put on the accessories so much for a day of laundry and reading and then because I'm not in the habit I forget if I am going out. But I do enjoy looking at them on my dresser. :-) Yes, cat fur is ethically sourced!
      xo

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