Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Iris and I Might Not see Eye to Eye

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It's a cute idea.  It certainly gives a rational for choosing to dress in a flambouyant way and it's true that Iris does not dress like everyone else, though what comes to mind when I see her is usually something along the lines of senior citizen clown school.  Ouch!  You say.  Shawna you are letting out your inner bitch, finally.  I disagree.  My inner bitch is not nearly that objective.  I'm not a big fan of clowns, and I do not admire Iris' outfits because I would actually want to wear them myself.  I do think that she has just as much right to look gaudy and tacky as I do to look frumpy and boring.  That is an idea I will certainly get behind.  Her spirit is delightful and if you see her coming you do get a sense of what you are about to encounter.  But what I admire most about Iris is that fact that she says things, things she believes in, her opinions, states them like they are facts and nobody seems to mind.  I wonder if dressing like that helps.  Can she be written off by anyone offended by what she says as just a silly old eccentric and is being thought a silly old eccentric better or worse than being written off as a miserly middle-aged frump?

I would like to live in a world where what we wear didn't matter and didn't lead people to judge us but that world doesn't exist.  So, the only option left is not to care.  One of my favourite artists, Paul Cezanne, was apparently quite disheveled, filthy and smelly.  We assume he didn't care.  I suggest perhaps he was guarding his own personal bubble with this effective strategy.   I doubt I could go this far, as I do generally like to be clean, but I have a perhaps perverse admiration for this insistence on freely being oneself and tend to admire the grubby more than the thoughtfully decorated.  Or at least I think I do.  I've not tested that by accumulating any grubby friends and I've not tested my friends with my own grubiness either.

Getting back to Iris.  The image and quote above comes from a Harper's Bazaar article featuring many such quotes.   I don't have to agree with everything Iris says to find her interesting and appealing and in fact it's likely I'd be disinterested if I agreed with everything.  Nobody is asking me for my words of wisdom for publishing in any magazines so I just have to find the words of others I connect with and be content with that.  I like many comments and ideas identified with Iris but I dislike the one above  and I dislike this one:  "Life is too short to wear beige."    I've seen this one attributed to Iris though can't currently find it along with a photo.  Poor beige. There is a time and a place for beige, and whether or not beige is appealing is only a matter of personal opinion, Iris' opinion being that it is dreary.  While such comments are uplifting to the beige haters of the world, they are potentially offensive to beige admirers such as myself.  So, yes, I dislike this comment and that is exactly why I am so glad she said it.  If she paused to wonder how many beige admirers she might offend before she summarily dismissed beige as bland, and I suspect she did not pause, the possibility of causing offense did not bother her.  I, on the other hand, would have bitten my tongue. I would have worried about the poor beige lovers who I am sure are very lovely people and look very nice wearing beige, and I would have thought to myself, oh no I should not express my own preferences by putting down another preference.  It gets a bit tedious having such polite and considerate thoughts all of the time.

Now it is possible that Iris' words were isolated for their dramatic effect and that she actually said, 'Some people look lovely in beige but for me, life is too short to wear it.'  That sounds more like something I would say though and part of me envies this inability to have worried about all the beige wearers of the world.


And then there is the comment I posted at the top of the page:  "When you dress like everyone else you don't have to think like everyone else."

 I hope that by this she means, that if you dress differently people will understand that you think differently, and by differently I assume she means more tolerant of oddities.  I hope that she does not mean that she thinks only people who dress differently are open minded, creative or tolerant people which is how that statement first sounds to me.  I am perhaps being nit-picky about semantics.  I often am.  I also must keep in mind that being a famous person, she will be quoted, perhaps misquoted and sometimes quoted out of context. 

 I am not sure that we can have any control over what other people determine about our thoughts though because they will judge our appearance as they will, not necessarily how we intend them to.  They will view us through their own lens, as the saying goes.  For a time I was concerned with attempting to represent my true self with how I dressed.  Eventually this became exhausting and boring.  I love clothes in the abstract.  I could have a lot of fun with a life sized mannequin to dress and an endless supply of the various styles that intrigue me.  I've learned that clothes are not my primary mode of expressing myself and that my preferred methods are not immediately obvious, they do not announce who I am as I walk down the street and that is the point.  I am not that type of person, though I can enjoy them and admire their boldness. I am more interested in being bold with my art and my words and I have not reached my desired level of boldness yet.  This makes someone like Iris a role model for me, despite that fact that I would not dress as she does, and do not find it attractive.  I am sure she would not care that I do not and THAT is the point.  I am sure she would not care that I have issues with some of her opinions (if these quotes are indeed accurate) and THAT too is the point. 

The question I repeatedly ask myself, mainly because I think I know the answer and don't like it so am searching for a new one, is  about how I would behave if I had a good long chat over a glass of wine with Iris.  If Iris were bold with assertions and opinions, ideas that could potentially be offensive to someone dressed in a beige ensemble, I would find myself biting my tongue, editing my ow replies to keep them from being as offensive as hers are.  That is what I do.  And I hate it that I do that. I will stop myself  from saying things after I've determined they are not tactful enough, despite the fact that my conversation partner is not being tactful herself.    This is always especially tricky with those people who are skilled at saying any number of things ranging from insulting to mildly un-tactful things while smiling and using a jocular tone.  I'm sure you've met that type. 

So now I have a plan.  I may not want to dress like Iris, not feel comfortable in literally such a bold costume, but if I ask myself, what would Iris say, perhaps I will make progress.







If you like quotes about style and fashion there are many here for you to enjoy.

10 comments:

  1. Throw down the gaunlet why don't you?!
    Hee hee!
    I think you've spoken your mind pretty well. Xo Jazzy Jack

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  2. Interacting with some people is hard, as you note. But as sagacious JJ says, you can convey a message implicitly without being rude. You do it well.

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  3. I'm inclined to think that the perspective that people should be able to say whatever pops out of their mouth without impunity is overrated. I was raised by someone who had, and continues to have difficulty using a filter, and that has not been helpful, but oftentimes hurtful and unproductive. I appreciate people being thoughtful about what they say, and its impact on others...while being true to themselves.

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    1. I was raised that way too, Kathy, and it tends to come naturally to me to automatically consider someone else's feelings before I speak. I think basically what I am grumbling about is the fact that after years of doing this I sometimes feel a bit trampled on. I find myself responding more tactfully and considerately to people who have not been at all tactful in their comments to me. I'm a natural-born high road taker who sometimes fantasises about the low road. :-)

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  4. There is a very popular sort of "movement" for ageing women to dress like peacocks - the whole "Purple Hat" brigade, which I remember thinking when my friend's mom joined, she could not have been out of her 40's(!), was so strange. Of course I am all for visibility, but on my own terms. I don't see why older women can't wear beige - well so long as it suits their "season"! ;-) It's funny, I did write and not publish a fashion theory type post for fear of causing offense this week (it was inspired by the Beyonce video, which I loved, which made me think how boring and same-y so many fashion blogs/Pinterest boards are.) It's hard to put into words without sounding like a jerk though! ;-) I don't know. I do think blogs ate for expressing ourselves where maybe we cannot elsewhere in life, we should write what we please I say! xo

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    1. I think that movement comes from the fact that so many women felt that they couldn't do that and so it is an act of freedom and choice and strength to do it. That's great for people who want to, I am just pointing out that if they are sometimes offering up the same sort of repression to women who don't wish to dress that way by announcing that it is dull and boring. It's a sort of catty war of words, with one side accusing the other of being flashy and tacky and the other side accusing the other of being dull, conventional and repressed. I am in favour of anyone who wants to be visible being so and I have learned that I personally do not really wish to be visible most of the time, but that does not make me dull or repressed. I know what you mean about the fashion blogs and Pinterest images. How many skinny jeans-blanket scarf-equestrian boots outfits do we need to see? Or the warm weather version-ripped boyfriend jeans, high heels and a slouchy tee shirt with a bit of bling and statement bag. I don't follow any of those but they still pop up in my feed at times. I prefer to see individual style even if it isn't something I would wear myself. That's why the blogs I follow are style blogs and not fashion blogs, or I just like the people who write the blogs. xoxo

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    2. Yes, many of those exact things were in my post! (the fashion things), but I was worried I was maybe imagining it if you know what I mean? But there really is a sort of identikit base wardrobe that proliferates fashion online/on Pinterest- I myself fall into the jeans and striped tee trap, (I'm only human!), but the biker jacket/big scarf thing drives me a bit nuts and I don't know why!

      That's a shame there is tension amongst the pro-purple and beige movements (ok so that's what I am calling them!). Some women look wonderful in neutral colours, I myself look horrible in primary colours so I tend to be more "Team Beige" (if I had one(!)) but I would never say you shouldn't wear something that you love. Which I realize my tirade above sort of contradicts but there is a difference I think. I spend so much time trying to not fall into proliferate trends that I often miss the fashion boat entirely though I think!

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  5. Civility is a charming garment, too little worn on casual occasions. (And you may quote me.)

    The edict about women of spirit not/wearing beige might date from the era when executives at IBM wore only shirts of a certain cut and color. Remember "Dress for Success"?

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    1. Uggh! Dress for Success, Power Suits, I am certainly glad I have never had to wear anything imposed on me, or at least I think I am. I could also make a case for a work uniform. Civility and charm are my birthday suit, but damn it I get frustrated by all the things I could have said to people who fill their conversation with thinly veiled insults and digs. I'd like to spend some time being Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess. :-)

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  6. I think what Iris means is that by dressing differently one can actually develop one's own style which ( I guess) is better than just copying what society regards as beautiful. However, this is only so if one actually feel like he/she is expressing themselves with clothes. To be honest, I sometimes don't and sometimes I do. There are days when what I wear doesn't say anything about me, it is not a fashion statement of any kind...and there are days when I do get creative when I get dressed up. So, I think I get what you mean. I think Iris said it because she feels that she is expressing who she is by the ways she dresses...and I do think that is fabulous...but I also think clothes are not the only way to express ourselves and they don't always have to be a statement of some sort.

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