Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Looking Like a Jackson Pollack Painting; And a Conundrum

 I received the high compliment of our post's title while wearing this look for day of shopping and tromping through San Francisco. Oddly enough, it didn't feel like i had a lot going on......but looking back on it i can see where a person might get that impression.

The close fitting aspects of the Sheila skirt and the Rococo swirly cotton jacket seemed to 'hold things together', thus i enjoyed the free floating scarves, ties, and peplum. When i'm wearing a look completely composed of floaty, drapey, dangling ponchos, capes, and various doo-dads i feel spacey, even mentally askew. I like the grounding effect of fitted, structured pieces, giving a contrasting background to a few free-range embellishments.

The following ensemble, which i wore the very next day, has a similar vibe - structured, close fitting jacket and sleek leggings provide grounding in this case. Both outfits reflect a bit of a turning point which i've reached along my 'style journey'. A couple of years ago, i decided to concentrate on achieving my 'dream wardrobe'. I've always loved clothes and had a flair for putting them on. As a wee child in hand me downs, i dreamed of the wardrobe i'd have when i grew up. But, you know how life my case, chronic illness prevented me from experiencing many of the things i'd wanted to: career, hobbies, travel, children....heehee, and of course the clothes!

It struck me that i wasn't that far off from my wardrobe dreams. Between my love of the small wardrobe, compulsion to remix, casual lifestyle, and sewing abilities i saw that pulling off the closet of my fantasies was a realistic goal. Since i had spent a few years neglecting my wardrobe, i began my quest by experimenting with new looks in the most economically parsimonious way possible. That's also when i began this blog. I made skirts from draping out an old sheet, buying cheap material on deep discount, then using buttons i'd gleaned from the husband's old shirts. I won't lie - i'm cheap by nature, but i also didn't want to spend money on ideas i wasn't sure i'd be that enthralled with in a few months. I had no experience dressing who i am now - older, married, more experienced, living in a different body, climate, daily routine.

By this past spring i felt it - i'd arrived at the next stage, the stage where i had a good handle on my likes and dislikes, my needs and wants and what i actually end up wearing.  I had the confidence to commit money, time, and effort to some new duds. As it happens, my aspirational style (there's a useful term for ya!) is more minimalist, and more luxe, than the boho-tatterdemalion style with which i started this blog.  These two looks reflect that. From Emily Cho's perspective, you could say that i'm going for a look that is more mature, authoritative, 'settled'. Notice i said 'more', not 'completely'! Maybe 'more grown up'?  But not 'old'.

Anyways, this bring me to my conundrum. I've been working on the next of the Emily Cho posts, on the Arty Offbeat and Exotic Dramatic personas. These two interrelate much as Sporty Casual and Classic Elegant do - Exotic Dramatic is seen as more managerial, 'the boss', authoritative, mature, in charge, in a leadership position, more experienced, more educated, more organized and so on while Arty Offbeat comes across as more of a student, more of a 'worker bee', less experienced,  follows their own drummer, non-hierarchical, spontaneous, and so on. Both are seen as very creative in their work and social lives. Exotic Dramatic could be thought of as Arty Offbeat all grown up, and in the last few months i've been traveling down the road from Arty Offbeat, getting closer to Exotic Dramatic.

i wore feet, too!
I have asked Judith of The Style Crone to be my icon of the pure Exotic Dramatic image type. (Although she has yet to answer my e-mail, so i'm using this as a naughty pressure tactic!)  Clean lines, every outfit meticulously put together regarding line, color, detail, accessories.....describing her style as 'curated' would not be far fetched, and Exotic Dramatic is the default image type when visualizing a gallery owner, museum director, etc.

However.  I am stuck when it comes to examples for Arty Offbeat. My problem is an embarrassment of riches!! I would say 98% of all style bloggers fall into the Arty Offbeat image type. Those who aren't pure AO show suspiciously strong tendencies in that direction. Pattern mixing, playing with proportions, thrifting, re-purposing clothing pieces (ie.,dress as skirt), heavy attraction to outlandish footwear - all these are classic AO traits and they run rampant in the style blogging world.

So i throw myself upon your mercy, dear readers! Can you nominate bloggers or particular outfits that you feel embody Arty Offbeat for me to use as examples? It's just too much for me! The only lady  i put off limits is Sheila of Ephemera. While a proud Arty Offbeat, Sheila is that rare bird who can take any image type and make it her own. She is a proud graduate of the Emily Cho Persona Academy, and i'm saving her for the finale.

Nominate in the comments, or send me an e-mail if you prefer. Either way, help an old lady out!


  1. I have no suggestions and I don't have Cho's book around anymore but is it correct that Arty Offbeat involved lots of fabric layering so that some or all of the body was obscured and well, protected? If so, contrary to your embarrassment of blogging riches, seems harder to find in a young person in an era of shrunken blazers and skinny jeans.

  2. Oh! Audi from Fashion for Nerds (lives in San Fran, too). Although she may be more Exotic Dramatic. Anyway, she is fabulously creative. I wanted to nominate Sheila -- you're right to keep her for a special category though.

    I love reading about and seeing pics of your own style journey. Do you find you now own more or fewer clothes than a few years ago?

  3. Meagan Mae immediately came to mind for me:
    She seems like exactly the sort of headstrong young stylist to grow into Exotic Dramatic as she matures.

  4. I get a special category? Sweet! :) I can't wait to see what it is!

    Love your first outfit - that jacket is amazing!

  5. Oh, and Megan and Audi, for sure.

  6. Hi Vildy! where in the world did you get your flair for words? you always just put things so well, and you introduced me to the word 'sexegenarian' over at YLF, which i just fell in love with! do tell!!

    re: Cho, i don't have the book anymore either, so it could be a blind leading blind thing. lots of layers and using clothing as armour does sound familiar, though. i do remember her advising AO's to 'throw on a belt to show some body!', which fits with your memory :)

    i do see a lot of ladies who show so many of the other AO traits (listed in post) that i would put them in that category. I am hypothesizing (?!?!) that the huge increase in nudity/sex/etc. in our culture has had it's influence here as elsewhere.

    i'm thinking of looks similar to this rag-doll dress on etsy:

    the bust, shoulders, and torso are all exposed or well-defined. in others i have seen the skirts hit about mid-thigh so they show a lot of leg as well. at the same time it's screaming arty and offbeat with tons of fabric layers.

    hope that wasn't too much of a diversion (red face). but for some reason those dresses just jumped into my head! steph

  7. Hi Patti! Audi popped into my head as well, but i was uncertain (don't know why). I do nthink she is more AO than ED - maybe i could present my thinking on that.

    re:style journey - thank you! i'm always interested in other people's, too. right now i have many fewer clothes than i had when i began (less than half?). But the ones i have i wear much more, like a LOT more, and fit my day to day life much much more.

    okay, getting into TMI territory here - i've always been a hoarder of certain items. When i was an infant, as soon as i got solid food i would 'store' it in my cheeks during naps. in kindergarten, the teacher called my mom - there was a line of ants busily carting away delectables from my kiddie locker, where i'd stored away cupcakes from a party.

    going thru life with a chronic illness, i've had many periods with little $$$, drastic weight changes, no energy to get out of the house to shop, etc. so i would hang onto all type of clothes that i really didn't care for, didn't quite fit, that i could turn into something nice with alterations, that people gave me, and so on. my inborn tendencies combined with ongoing life events make this pretty predictable.

    it still all would fit in a normal suburban-sized closet. but 75% of the stuff i had i wouldn't wear - it was 'insurance'. i am happy to say that over the time i've been blogging i've got rid of the great bulk of my 'insurance stash', and it's been much much more easy emotionally.

    hope that answers your question ans didn't gross you out too much ;) have fun! steph

  8. Hi there Louise! wow! i want to know when you come over our way so Mr. E and i can check out your bus - it's our dream to live in a tiny house!!!!

    and Megan Mae is brilliant! i'll contact her and see what she says - feel free to pressure her :) steph

  9. Hi Sheila!! not 'special category', it's "The Finale". heeheee!

    yep, the jacket is from Peruvian Connection, it was on a big sale. there stuff is killer. hug those kitties!! steph

  10. That teacher was Billie Bowers, an amazing person; she showed me the cubby and ants. She/the Lab School were my only regrets when we moved to the Bay Area.

  11. Actually, "sexagenarian" is the real word - person in their sixties and more properly it should be sexYgenarian, doncha think?

    I was reading in your other blog. You're deep.

    I decided to order another copy of the Cho book. Of the three, I can't remember for sure whether what I read was in that one or another. She had a whole little essay about what your clothes communicated. Very psychological. I related at the time to the covered-up business. And probably remaining from that is how I am drawn to coats/raincoats/outerwear jackets.

    One of the differences, I think, between amassing things and true hoarding is that the hoarded items are not usually used. Apropos is the old saw about Having your cake and eating it, too. Hoarders are going to choose having. If you use the clothing, say, you bring it closer to being worn out with each use.

    Though there is a nice parallel with buying a wardrobe for your fantasy self. Hoarders easily feel that having all the right tools and supplies is the same as being. Example: if I have a huge amount of every kind of craft supply and project, I "am" a crafter. Even though as a hoarder I wouldn't probably have any space in which to work and would probably feel too perfectionist to start.

  12. Heehee, Vildy, i was so atwitter i mixed up the words! either way, it's a lot of fun!

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on re-reading Ms. Cho! If you're interested (and have the time) i'd be excited to publish a guest post from you on the topic - let me know if you are interested!

    That's a new and insightful perspective to me on hoarding vs. amassing. On the whole, i did end up using most of what i had - but infrequently, or unhappily, or as an excuse not to get what i really would have preferred. I also kept things that were way past sensible use, 'just in case'. At any rate, i am glad i am moving away from that way of interacting with my clothing!!

    Happy Friday and let me know if you want to do a post!!! steph