Although I tend to lean more towards the unconventional (but modest) side of fashion, I do think that there are some things in fashion that take unconventional too far. Everyone has a different threshold for crazy fashion, and mine has gotten pretty high throughout the years. What I used to think I would never wear, I now wear and admire in others.
I came up with the different types of reactions that fashionistas have when they see a particular outfit. Take note that these are types of reactions and not types of fashionistas. Although this list may combine certain personality types with certain reactions, I still think one personality type can react in so many different ways depending on what they’re faced with.
- The mirror-image: “I like it! It’s definitely something I would wear!” – This first category applies to how you might react to the type of outfits that you are currently already wearing most of the time and think you look best in. You’ve defined your distinct style and haven’t moved away from it as much as you want to. You’re the most comfortable and at home with this type of look. My looks can probably be generally defined as vintage chic with 60s or 80s pastels, bright colors, and cute doll-type clothes. I think I look best in this category because I am a pear-shaped petite, so dresses and skirts lace nicely over my figure, and the 60s cat-eye makeup and thick fringe hairdo work best with my face and almond-shaped eyes. The problem with this category is that it only represents a small portion of the type of clothing I like and can pull off. I like a lot of looks, but I do not always have the right items to build another image.
- The alter ego: “I love it! I wish I could pull that off!” – This category is where reactions to a lot of your inspirational Tumblr photos would be classified. You are naturally visually gravitated towards certain looks that you do not or think you cannot sport. You secretly envy people who can successfully and effortlessly create outfits with this image. I really like the atmosphere created by steam punk genre. It is probably one of my favorite looks that I wish I could pull off. If I could just build an entire wardrobe kingdom with rusty metallic and dusty worn-out pieces, I could probably do it. I also like the 70s and 80s punk look in general, because punk and its offshoots are probably my favorite genre of music. Think Richard Hell and the Voidoids with needles and pins embellished on their leather jackets, but this time acid-washed and aged to rust. As much as I like wearing bright colors a lot, I really wish I had more dark pieces to complete my goal.
- The art gallery: “It looks really nice, but it’s not for me.” – The difference between this category and the alter ego is that in this one, you don’t have a specific goal to meet when you admire a look. You think a certain type of outfit is high fashion or attractive, but you personally don’t consider it your style or something you want to pattern your outfits off of. The way you admire a lot of the looks you “liked” on various fashion community sites may apply to this category.
- The pathological egotist: “This can never compare to my taste. I am my own category.” – While this may be true in some sense, this is like saying you’re completely original and you do not gather inspiration from anywhere else (not even in history) but yourself. You secretly flip through pages and pages of fashion magazines but do not admit that you find inspiration from various sources. I don’t believe anything is completely original and outside the realms of categories if there are strings of words that can define it. The egotist is just a blind, proud megalomaniac who thinks that he or she is superior to any look out there and nothing can even come close.
- The elitist: “What a sad excuse for fashion!” – You know what looks you like and are inspired by, so when you come by an outfit that’s considered fashionable, but you don’t agree, or a trend that you think is just stupid, then you react like an elitist. I like a lot of looks that a lot of people do not like and vice versa, so I guess I react like this a lot. I can consider something as attractive but wouldn’t wear it for modesty reasons, but I wouldn’t react like an elitist if I thought the outfit was artistic and could be tailored to my preference. I know a good piece of clothing when I see one (perhaps because of the details or the fabric) even if it isn’t modest. An example of what I think is a silly trend is the Moschino belt. Unless I can associate it with something significant in today’s or in history’s pop culture, I am most likely not going to wear it.
- The blind follower: “Oh, I like all things fashionable!” – This type of reaction is what I most frown upon because a lot of posers’ and copycats’ reactions fit in this category. I know I might offend a lot of people, but I really think people who say they like EVERYTHING that is vintage or EVERYTHING that is indie are just the most vacuous of all people. There is a difference between saying that you “like and wear vintage” or even “wear nothing but vintage” and saying you like EVERYTHING that is vintage. The first part of that statement I am cool with. I admire people who wear a lot of or nothing but stylish vintage, and the majority of my own pieces are vintage as well. Now, if someone says they like everything that is vintage, then to me, that’s like they’re saying they like everything, period. So 20 or so years from now when everything today will be considered vintage, that same person would probably say that they like everything from today’s culture. See how silly that sounds? I know this might just be a little confusing because of the wording, but the two meanings of the phrases are worlds apart. Although, I would give credit to people who like certain decades even if they liked everything from those decades. I just think people need to be a little more specific to prove their avid fandom’s authenticity and to set them apart from the blind follower’s reaction.
- The realistic downer: “There’s just nothing good about that outfit.” – If an outfit cannot be considered fashionable, stylish, or artistic even if it was a little unconventional, then this is the most realistic and common reaction a lot of us have to it. The ironic part of the type of outfit this reaction applies to is that sometimes people who wear this type of un-stylishly cool outfit are doing it on purpose. Knowing how to judge whether an outfit was put together in a “blah” way on purpose to make a statement versus an outfit that was just sloppily put together is hard to tell. This is the kind of reaction I have when I see 90s clothing. Ironically, my husband LOVES 90s clothing, but for some reason, because he thinks it’s attractive, I think it is too but only on him. I find it cute when he wears his large flannel shirts and horizontal-striped “Gator” shirts he used to love wearing as a kid. I just wouldn’t admire 90s clothing or even consider it good on anyone else—I guess unless they explain their admiration of it to me like my husband did. I respect people who can actually put into words what they like about something!
Can you identify yourself having any of these reactions? Which is the most true to you?
I purposefully didn’t include the types of reactions non-fashionistas have when they see an outfit, simply because it would’ve take too much time to write and also because writing the extras probably wouldn’t apply to anyone reading this blog. If you’re not a fashionista and you’re reading this, I consider you at least interested in clothing, music, art in general, or modesty!
Below, you can watch the bands Flight of the Conchords’ and Talking Heads’ funny and sardonic reactions to fashion:
The scene below is from Talking Heads’ movie, True Stories, where there is a fashion show of purposefully absurd clothing. My “favorites” are the family-matching grass outfits, the cake dress, and the humongous heart hat that tips the model over and off the stage!