Thursday, February 19, 2009

Tell a Story, Illustrated

I worked in retail in an accessories department for about five years, and had to create different displays during this time. Whether I was working on a wall of socks or styling mannequins, my department manager only gave me this advice: "Cara, make sure you are telling a story."

When arranging the socks, oftentimes my story said, "I don't give a fuck," but with other projects I really realized how a sense of mood, place, and time could all be conveyed.

Usually I think of clothing as self-expression, or as making a statement. But thinking of it in this way is limiting, since it confines the wearer to only one part of the story. It is easy to convey -with fashion- a mood: "I'm pissed" or "I'm happy and feeling colorful;" a place, "I can wear sweatpants with Uggs because i live in Wisconsin;" or a time, "These shoulder pads are trendy, and it's not the 80s" (see recent Balenciaga collections and NY Times' style section).

But it is much more difficult to give these statements a context. Why is a girl wearing fashionable guys' jeans? I don't think she stole this look from a magazine. Did she steal them last night from a boyfriend or has she held on to them for years because she can't let go?

This next girl, photographed in Koln, Germany, may be one of the reasons they make girls' bikes and guys' bikes- so girls in pretty dresses don't have to swing their legs over. Germany never looked so soft. Her dress may not be practical, but her shoes are, which may suggest the bike is actually a convergence of fashion and function and not just an accessory. I think she had to get somewhere on her bike this day, and she didn't want her mode of transportation to limit her reflective outfit on what looks to be a beautiful day.
via: the sartorialist

A study in hue and saturation. Her color palette is washed out, and anything but celebratory, but her fascinator (designed by Kenley Collins of Project Runway villainy) elevates her outfit out of the winter blahs. After reading she wore this out for her birthday, I thought, "of course!" The shades of color and even her pose suggest shyness, but the addition of one accessory made her stand out when she wanted to feel special.

photo via: the cats pajamas for wardrobe_remix on flickr

From Florence, Italy. Definitely not America. I hated khakis before this look, but this guy is actually cool wearing them. Preppy but neither conservative or classic (save the jacket.) Love the gloves instead of a handkerchief. The colors of his features (eyes, hair) repeat in his clothes, which result in a great, original look that he owns.

Paris, though she looks like she could be anywhere in the world, she is firmly planted in the now. I think I know what this girl was going for. An effortless ponytail and saggy sweatshirt give off a laissez-faire attitude, but everything about this look was deliberate. She wanted to balance the shortness of the skirt with the bagginess of her sweatshirt, but not completely focus all the color on her very exposed legs. Cute and not in the least slutty, it shows off a great feature- her legs, but also her fashion sense.
photo via: facehunter

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