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April 23, 2015 by carolinetanski
People often seem surprised by my interest in fashion. Or, to put it better, people often seem surprised by the nature of my interest in fashion. As a woman I’m expected to like cute shoes and sundresses and purses (I actually hate the word “purse”) because these are womanly pursuits.
What is less expected, judging by reactions, is to be fervently interested in fashion as a conversation with history and politics. I typically start to get funny looks when I jet off on a monologue about how Yves St. Laurent’s Le Smoking was not merely a pantsuit but a response to and reflection of the changing roles of women in the early- to mid-1960s. For those versed in fashion history this is not a new argument, nor a particularly interesting one. For those who see clothing as only clothing, it is the sort of conversation you try to extract yourself from at the first opportunity so you can get back to the drinks table.
My point, to which I slowly wander, is that I care about fashion because it’s not only about itself. It is a lens for looking at culture, personality, class, geography… Almost anything related to human experience. Clothing is a necessity, and fashion is an informative construct.
All of which was brought to mind again when I read this Atlantic article discussing the personal style of Joan Harris. It’s a thoughtful and thought-provoking examination of how the character constructs herself within a shifting framework of sexual politics and social movement, focusing specifically on her incredible hair.
P.S. For anyone wondering how that poem-a-day business is going, let’s not talk about it.