Categories
Aesthetics

Day 450 and Editor Pants

I was chatting with one of my favorite girlfriends about this and that today when we stumbled into a strange revelation.I was bemoaning the lack of serious writing on style and she was sharing good TikTok accounts that get into the type of fashion analysis I might find enjoyable. You know, shoot the shit with girlfriends texting. And somehow we stumbled onto how we both became fashion girls. And well I’m just going to share it.

On my way to become a fashion girl I had some awkward phases but none more awkward than when I was quite sure that Express was actually stylish.

And nothing did more to convince me of this than their absolutely iconic Editor Pants. If you are an elder millennial you know this pant. Black and mid-rise with a mostly straight cut, it’s form fitting hug was the definitive silhouette of its era.

Now mind you they were polyester and not terribly high quality. I once set a pair on fire in my dorm room by attempting to try it on a lamp so I didn’t have to go to a fraternity party in damp pants. Couture this was not. But in my teenage head these were the kind of pants that serious professional women wore.

Now this has some consequences for the trajectory of my life. I absolutely thought being an editor was a serious job based on the marketing of these pants. Sure Banana Republic tried to convince us that architect was the sexy creative job. But for me it was the Editor Pant that inspired my imagination. It put the idiotic notion that I could work at a magazine right as magazine publishing culture was at its zenith. I remember standing outside of Condé Nast on a visit to New York and telling myself I’d work there one day.

So yeah fuck those pants. Being an editor is a grueling shitty line of work where you are constantly in financial jeopardy. Thank fuck I god over it when Condé Nast wouldn’t hire me after college. They rightly told me I wasn’t qualified having done something asinine like study economics at Chicago.

And to be fair I had an amazing career in fashion and I owe a lot to those pants. They were a generational staple and Express deserves a place in fashion history for it. I hope someone with actual skills in this space writes something serious about it and published a back catalog of their advertising. Maybe I’ll do it one day. And if you’d like a lovely internet friend my friend is Alexis Hyde. We have similar tastes though she’s much more visually literate than me. She’s an art curator in Los Angeles and if you ever want to buy art look her up.

Categories
Aesthetics

Day 126 and External Aesthetics

An essay by Amanda Mull, whose writing I generally enjoy, has an essay on fashion and the end of the pandemic. It’s an interesting read on how fashion and disease have intersected in history and how we might react to our own moment in history as the summer of the vaccine rolls around. But it was this line that caught my attention.

Clothes are a language we use to tell others about ourselves; fashion is a conversation. If there are no other people to talk to, then what’s the point?

Aesthetics have been a big part of my adult life and one of my primary professional interests. I’ve worked with brands as diverse as Nike, Gucci and Ann Taylor and I founded a cosmetics line. I like conversations in the language of style.

But I didn’t realize until the pandemic that I had very little interest in an internal dialog on aesthetics. I think Ms Mull has hit on a truth I couldn’t put my finger on. What was the point if I was just talking to myself?

I’ve got several drawers of cosmetics and a full closest of clothing but I haven’t felt the urge to use any of it simply to please myself. I didn’t realize just how little these aesthetic conversations were about a personal dialog with myself until this year. I never wore makeup to please myself. If I did then I would have work lipstick this year. Nor did I wear clothing for my own enjoyment. The pandemic seems to have proven that for me aesthetics are all about the dance with others. The joy of communicating one’s taste and preferences to the outside world is more riveting than playing with my look for an audience of one.

While I have a personal style (it leans towards minimalism and Italian basics) it’s not so tied up with my identity that I felt I needed to expressive it to myself. I’ve got mixed feelings on the matter as there is an undercurrent of moralizing that suggests style should be for the joy and satisfaction of the wearer and no one else. It’s got a kind of self care “you be you” celebratory tone that is in reality a bit judgmental.

For some of us it’s clearly about telegraphing who we want to be seen as in the world. The semiotics of taste, class, wealth and culture are arguably more interesting than a personal picadillo for purple. Layering nuances into garments and color is an art but if no one looks at the final piece it feels a bit like keeping a painting locked up in a private collection. So I guess I feel ok that I’m only interested in style if it’s part of an external world. I’ll keep the talking to myself in my head and off my hips and lips. It’s nice that I have something I actually want to share with the world.