Wednesday, June 11, 2008

I love clothes

I love clothes. Rather, I love the right clothes. For me. Not sure how to describe my style. Not bohemian. Not punk. Definitely not preppy or trendy. I usually don't find my favorite pieces in a mainstream store. But I do have some favorite labels -- the current one is Free People. (I admit Free People is not necessarily out of the mainstream. But it is no GAP.)

As a teenager, I found much of my clothing in vintage stores, such as Alice's Underground in the West 70s and Love Saves the Day near St. Mark's Place. I don't the patience to look through $5 bins in a vintage store; nor do such stores have the same feel or prices that they did in the 1980s. But I am drawn to that type of style -- vintage and singular (even though it might not actually be singular).

Two movies have made me examine my relationship with clothing and fashion. I do not love clothing in a "Sex and the City" way. What do I care about outrageously expensive designer clothes? Yet I am a New Yorker (or ex-pat New Yorker, if you prefer). But my New York was never that kind of New York. (What "my kind of New York" is remains a tangential question here.) Now, I have not seen the movie, and I only saw one episode of the TV show (with my mother-in-law, very uncomfortable). But what topic comes up in reviews and discussions of the movie? The designer clothes. And I certainly have seen enough pictures. I have nothing against the movie. I may even see it down the line. I would define the "Sex and the City" approach to clothes is extravagant and upper class. Nothing necessarily wrong with it.

But that is not me.

The movie that exactly describes how I feel about clothes is "Desperately Seeking Susan," which seems to be on TV a lot these days. I am not a Madonna wanna-be -- though I may have had my guilty moments when I was 14 and the movie came out in 1985 (wearing boxers into a swimming pool is a memorable moment). The way the movie handles clothes is my way.

Susan (Madonna) has a skull suitcase (more a large hatbox with a handle) that contains her few possessions, including some particular items of clothing (a green sequined vintage dress comes to mind). She also wears a distinctive jacket with a pyramid embroidered on the back. It is this jacket that drives the plot. The way that Susan and Roberta (the woman who inadvertantly assumes Susan's identity) handle the clothes in that box is how I feel about my clothes. I enjoy the weight of the material and the colors. I love mixing and matching and layering to make things look different and new. No matter the implications, my clothes are part of my identity.
(And back to the "my New York City" question: "Desperately Seeking Susan" is also set in NYC and even has the store Love Saves the Day playing a pivotal role.)


Crumbs said...

There is this great little book that just came out by Elizabeth Kendall called "Autobiography of a Wardrobe." Basically, it's the clothes talking, piece by piece, about how they shaped the life of one woman. Sounds like your style: intelligent, not prissy.
Although I don't relate to some of the clothes described in her book, I loved how she detailed the relationship one has with certain items.

On a personal note: there was no one I looked up to more than Madonna in that movie. Oh! At 13, I would put wigs on and ride the bus downtown pretending to be her.

morgan said...

Thanks for the book reference -- I'll check it out.

Glad someone remembers the movie! I was discussing the way I love clothes with two friends, and both looked at me blankly when I mentioned "Desperately Seeking Susan." I forgot they are both only 30 years old. They would have been a tad too young to be affected by the movie.

Crumbs said...

hmm, I wonder when I saw it? I'm 31 and remember watching it over and over. guess we rented it?
(i've NO concept of time!)

morgan said...

Man, now I feel old. When I was 14, I did see the movie in the theater. Now I am (just) 37. Okay, not too old.

busy busy mommy said...

i love that you love clothes because i reap the benefits! oh, and did i ever love that movie!!