Feb 18, 2010
I do not have a look. Or if I do, I am not aware of it.
I have always wanted a look but it never came naturally to me, which is strange since I was always interested in fashion. I just lacked the energy to make it happen, I guess.
It also has to do with my being raised to believe you weren't supposed to put too much emphasis on appearances, as well as growing up male in a culture where men are not supposed to be interested in clothes.
So I've been highly ambivalent about cultivating a look, as well as judgmental of those -- men in particular -- who seemed (to me) to be overly focused on their appearance.
I generally think of dressing up as theater. It's fun to wear a costume and perform, but I don't want to do it every day. It feels like work.
Sometimes I wish I wore glasses because they can give you an instant look. But I'm cursed with perfect vision.
The thing about a look though, is how do you know if you have one or not? I mean, everybody looks a certain way, but not everybody has a look.
Maybe a look is like obscenity: it's hard to define but you know it when you see it.
Casey and Gertie definitely have a look.
Many people copy the style of a particular celebrity and that becomes their look -- often for life. In my apartment building, for instance, we have a Liza, a few Farrahs, and something vaguely-Leslie Uggams. Our Betty Grable suffers from acute senility, poor thing, but she still gets the lipstick and eyeshadow on.
When I walk around the city, or go to the Chelsea flea market on weekends, I always see people -- both men and women -- who have fabulous looks. It's more than appearing fashionable: they have found a way to express themselves through clothes that is both highly original and extremely flattering. It's like alchemy.
One of the surprises when I started sewing and getting involved with Pattern Review was how many passionate sewers are turning out ordinary-looking -- albeit attractive -- clothes. No doubt they fit better than RTW (ready to wear) and are constructed of higher quality fabrics, but sewing for most people isn't about creating a look, or at least, not one that I can readily discern. Most people just want to look nice.
When I think about looks, I remember something I read about about one's identity in some psychology book: There's the you you are, the you you think you are, the you others think you are, and so forth.
I think you could say the same thing about your look: there's the look you have; there's the look you think you have; there's the look others think you have, etc.
Then I'm reminded of the old "if a tree fell in the forest" question: if you think you have a look, but nobody recognizes it as a look, then do you really have a look at all?
This can get confusing and potentially vertigo-inducing, like when you look up at the stars at night and wonder where the universe ends.
So I ask you, readers:
Do you have a conscious look? If so, how do you describe it?
If you don't have a look, would you like one? What would it be?