In which I publish our bimonthly half-hour-long video.

Because I was dragging my feet in answering the comments from “Shibboleth” and as my bottomless well of laziness bubbled its way to the surface, I’ve made our video.  I answer the comments, in helter-skelter order, as well as Craftastrophies‘ comment on “for those who think young.”  I forgot to answer Laura’s comment on “shibboleth,” because I’ve been so dreadful at keeping up with responses and am basically just going to write her an email.

Per usual, the rules sit thusly: This video is long. as. all get out.  I ramble.  The three of you who make it to the end get cookies.  Or undying gratitude.  To-may-to, etc.  Shall we?


7 thoughts on “In which I publish our bimonthly half-hour-long video.”

  1. I AM listening! I was also a catholic school girl, and I also hated my uniform (ESPECIALLY the socks, mostly because they never ever stayed up). But you are definitely right about the fabric and styling choices.

    The thing I was thinking about it the other day was this. My main criteria for an outfit I feel like myself in are: clearly feminine but not too feminine in the sense of being frilly, a little bit edgy in one way or another, could climb a tree (or other activity) at a second’s notice. Oh and able to be washed easily. And I feel like those are also the criteria for little girl’s clothes. And also traditional working women’s clothes so a shirtdress can look a bit nurse like, or factory girl like, depending on fabric choice.

    I’m pretty fine with that, to be honest! I think the key is, as long as I am wearing something I DO feel like myself in, then who cares? I’ve worn a lot of ‘safe’ clothes in the past because my other options were… not me. And the safe clothes weren’t me either but at least they didn’t set up some kind of expectation for me that i couldn’t meet. I also find, from observing other women whose style I admire, that when it’s clear there was a deliberate effort at styling and presentation it matters less what the actual presentation is. In fact there’s more social capital in wearing that slightly off beat thing – like the navy suit vs the black suit – because I think it signifies that you’re in the know. You’ve got… something. Maybe that you have enough social capital that you can get away with doing things your way. Personally if I wear a black suit I feel like someone at their very first job interview who doesn’t know what they’re doing. since that’s the only time in my life i have actually worn one.

    At a certain point I have to go with the fact that I’m not always really sure how I AM presenting myself. As you said in the video about being bad at shibboleths… I can’t anticipate all the cultural baggage someone is bringing to how the view me. Some, I can. But some is just so foreign to my world, and to my view of myself, that I just can’t assume I know what an outfit is going to make me look like to them. It’s not the 50s anymore, we don’t have that same one cultural aspiration and understanding, if we ever really did.

    Subcultures have subcultures these days so it’s just impossible to keep track of what cultural meaning every single item or combinations of items has. But I wonder how much of that is modern and how much of it is how it has always been but those subcutlural meanings just don’t make it down in the history books because they are, by definition, or their own time and place, and evolve so fast.

    I did spend a reasonable amount recently on what I call my ‘fancy lady bag’ (the most un-fancy way to refer to it, yes) partly because I wanted a nice thing but also because it IS a successful talisman. I get treated… I was going to say nicer but that’s not it. When I walk into an expensive shop with that bag, the staff assume that I’m in the know. It makes everything smoother. I’m not averse to using that cultural capital, at all. Of course I did also have a melt down after I spent the money because I somehow felt like I would buy the wrong bag, or wear it wrong or something, and everyone would KNOW and then it was worse than not trying at all. That was an interesting one that I didn’t realise my head was going to serve up for me until it happened…

    It is very disconcerting to realise that your subconscious may be assigning value to things – and to other people, and to yourself – without your permission.

    I am ABSOLUTELY available for a praire girl dress. Actually I’ve been thinking a lot about this floor-length denim skirt I used to own, with big pockets and buttons all the way down the front. It was my mother’s in the 70s, and I LOVED that skirt and wore it until I got too fat for it, and then wore it with the top two buttons undone and then had to give up. I was thinking how sad I was that I didn’t own that and a gingham shirt at the same time. Maybe I can make these things happen…

    I mentioned this is the comment on the last post (god WHY can’t I write a succinct comment? I’ve basically written a whole blog post in your comments. I’m so sorry.) I am definitely drawn to making a pattern a bunch of times. It’s useful skills-wise and I also am driven to get it ‘right’ before moving on. The only reason my M6696s turned out as close to good as they have is that I made three men’s shirts in a row last year, the same pattern, and really worked out how the plackets and collars went together. Never did work out the sleeve cuffs, though. That’s a battle for another day.

    I made it to the end (OBVIOUSLY since I felt the need to comment on every damn thing) but I will waive my cookie for forgiveness of this massive comment, because I can;t bear to delete any of it because I just love talking about these things so so much.

  2. Being bad at Shibboleths… I am too. I don’t spend much time thinking about it, or worrying about it, really, but looking back on my younger self striving to fit in, I really just didn’t ‘get’ it. Whatever ‘it’ was. Now I don’t care. Much.
    You were talking about how the ‘it’ product, the signifier of being ‘in the know’ or part of the group, keeps changing. It changes once the so-called lower classes or upwardly mobile middle classes grasp that an item is the ‘it’ item and manage to obtain it. This has always happened throughout history, at least in the Western world. Using the ‘right’ word or pronouncing it in the ‘right’ way meant that you were naturally a part of a certain segment of society and would be accepted as such. Pronouncing it incorrectly or using a different word to mean the same thing marked you as being ‘other’, not of the same social class or circle. It’s an aspirational cycle. Being able to afford having afternoon tea (sometimes erroneously called high tea) and going ahead and having it didn’t MAKE one a member of the aristocracy, but doing something the aristocrats were doing supposedly put you on a similar social level, or got you closer at least. It’s that constant striving to reach a cultural ideal or social level. The ‘it’ thing has to keep changing for the upper classes or the fashion leaders to maintain their position. By the time the middle classes adopted it, the upper classes (aka the trend-setting fashionistas in this scenario) would have already dropped it for another thing or practice–or at least looked down on those social climbers while keeping their own practice (after all, why should they change because a few upstarts started copying them?).
    I’m not sure where this all leads, except that clearly this same thing is still happening today, except on multiple levels and with multiple ‘upper classes’, if you will. Far more levels than in any previous era.
    And of course, each industry or profession has its own version of this.

    1. I think a lot about how my family polices their own language. And how that relates to colonialism. Because duh.

      We’re ethnically Irish, have been living in Australia for several generations. General feeling is anti-English, except that we strive to be upper middle class. Which means acting English. When I was little the aunts REALLY told us off if we used Americanism (one aunt stopped talking to me for a while when i told her one phrase was actually English, but had gone out of fashion there and was only saved from extinction by the Americans. I mean how dare I?!) and ESPECIALLY said ‘haitch’ for ‘h’. I found out recently that’s an Irish language hangover.

      Also this commonising trend is really really obvious if you look at name trends.

      1. What was the phrase? Americans: Saving the world, one term at a time.

        The commonizing trend haunts me, because it is one of those bells that cannot be unrung. Once you notice one thing, you can’t help but notice a flurry of others. Everything from language, to food, to styles of dress. Nothing is safe, nothing is sacred!

    2. Per usual, I agree with you on all points. This is the problem that Ralph Lauren has, I think. A lot of people term his clothing inauthentic, because he was a Jewish kid from the Bronx selling ties out of the back of his car. Because he was observing certain trends, mirroring them, and advertising a lifestyle, he was apparently breaking some sort of code? I don’t find this any different than what more accepted designers like Carolina Herrera and Oscar de la Renta do. Everyone is selling a girl, an image.

      On a larger social level, we see this with fatness and exotic foods. When it was expensive to buy oranges and pineapples from faraway places, that was en vogue. Now that Chile is a breadbasket that can export inexpensive food, while local foods are dear, you can’t ravage the planet with your selfishness and lust for strawberries in mid-December. I cannot deal with it, anymore. Especially as a formerly skint college student, and current nervous working girl.

      I cannot wait to have my signals lost in translation at work this week. It is bound to be a laugh riot.

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