Last week Natalie of Another Perfume Blog dedicated to me one of her RSP (Runway, Sidewalk, Perfume) posts. She depicted me much better than I am in the real life – so you should go and read it if you haven’t done it yet!
Natalie’s post sent me sorting not only through my closet to streamlining my wardrobe but also through my memories.
I grew up in a fashion-challenged country: there were almost no fashion magazines, no advertising of any kind, runway TV shows or even sales catalogs. Still somehow everybody knew what was in fashion at any given time. And most women tried to follow that fashion. So the whole country would be wearing miniskirts, maxi skirts, banana pants, leg warmers, turtlenecks or wedges. Well, maybe not the whole country but inhabitants of big cities definitely would.
I don’t know how they (we) did it: light industry wasn’t the country’s strong suit (I haven’t decided if to consider that a pun); you couldn’t just go to a department store and buy nice clothes – you had to either come across new arrivals and stand in line for a couple of hours or “know somebody” (a sale assistant or a store manager). There was a third option – engaging in the hand-to-hand sale. The problem with the latter was that it was illegal and very expensive: a pair of fashionable boots, for example, could cost a monthly salary of a school teacher. Nevertheless, many women of all ages managed to get the desirable item into their wardrobe. Peculiarly you could unmistakably tell that year’s “it” from just walking the streets or riding a subway. Interestingly, when it came to fashion, looking like everybody else was considered a good thing.
For the first several years after I moved to the U.S. I thought I was in heaven: not because of the abundance of nice clothes for almost any price range but because it seemed nobody cared for fashion. Most people around wore whatever they felt like wearing, in many cases just jeans and tops – comfortable clothes. Comfort has never been a priority for me (or my ex-countrymen) but what I actually enjoyed was the newly found freedom to wear what I wanted without the pressure to follow the trend or be like everybody.
Of course later I realized that fashion agnosticism that I, following my previous experience, projected on the whole country, was rather a reflection of the area where I lived: soccer moms and computer geeks are not much into hot couture or even just fashion trends.
I still do not care much for what is in or out of fashion. I like beautiful things and would wear something I like without thinking twice if others might think of it as dated. My taste and wardrobe changed a little over the years but I’m still more on the classic and conservative than modern and hip side. And, most likely, I’ll stay that way. If you want to know more, I touched upon my present attitude towards clothes (including a bizarre classification of things I wear) in the last year’s post For Every Occasion: Jul et Mad Amour de Palazzo.
As for the future, what I’m trying to change about my clothes is what I do already, more successfully, with perfumes: I think I will be happier with twice or even three times fewer items bought for the same money. I like variety but I don’t get as much joy from five $40 mainstream perfumes from a discount store as I would get from one even full price bottle of niche perfume of my choice. Two more issues I’m working on: overcoming my preconception that, borrowing from Mr. H. Ford, shoes might be in any color as long as they are black (an aftermath of having just one or two pairs at a time, which had to go with everything) and almost physical handicap preventing me from buying and wearing anything white, especially pants and skirts (I’m still not sure how people do that while using public transportation!).
I also decide to try my hand at making a fashion collage to pair with one of my favorite perfumes – Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (if you missed it, I told the story of this perfume in this year’s anniversary post Down the Rabbit Hole through the Looking-Glass).
Images: Soviet fashion, shoes and clutch for the collage – borrowed somewhere (can’t find owners), necklace, dress and perfume in collage – my own.