The Average U.S. Wardrobe

From various data gatherers I read that the average woman in the U.S. has a closet with 103 items, and 20 pair of shoes (5 of which are worn). She spends about $92/month on clothing, an average of 2 items online and 3 purchases in-store. She regrets 78% of her purchases and only wears around 10% of her closet.

I did a fresh wardrobe inventory of my own, finding I had 101 items (coming in close to average), including 18 pair of shoes (again). I tried on every single piece, and photographed myself wearing each item for evaluation. My Keeping pile dropped my list to 9 dresses/gowns, 6 tops, 4 bottoms, 3 outerwear, and 6 shoes for a total of 28 pieces. How's that for spring cleaning? 

Most of what was cluttering my closet was of good quality and fit, but wasn't as well suited to me as the 28 pieces that made the cut (this is a major benefit of photographing everything at once and seeing your looks side by side). I don't want B grade looks stuffing up the back of the closet for if one of my A looks falls out or for the sake of "variety"- If an A look falls out, it needs to be replaced by another A look, and even 28 pieces is more variety than I need.  

I don't mean this to be a numbers game, other than to determine what you actually will wear, like to wear, and feel good wearing. If you have 100+ A garments, kudos to you. If you don't, consider letting items go. Let it to go to someone who will wear it and feel good wearing it today. It needs to leave your sight so you can see with clarity the wardrobe that serves you, and only the wardrobe that serves you. You need an A+ wardrobe for your life today- not a museum of your past life, nor a monument to the life you wish you had, but a wardrobe that supports the body, aesthetic, and lifestyle that you have right now in the best way possible.

So my brave and stylish Beauties, dare you count how many items are in your wardrobe and see how many of those pieces are actually your best? Will you be doing any closet spring cleaning this season to clear the way for your very best?

 

Basics, NormCore, and The Closing of FRUiTS Magazine

FRUiTS magazine, a magazine celebrating the most vividly expressive in Japanese street style, is closing after 20 years due to a lack of "cool kids" to photograph. 

The creator said that in the future, issues may be published at whatever erratic pace photos can be taken that meet FRUiTS standards. It isn't entirely over, and it isn't entirely due to a lack of funky kids, but there has been a firm push in the past few years away from quirky dressing (with niche shops closing and publications like FRUiTS ending), and in favor of "normcore" and wearing shapeless, colorless "basics" all of the time. 

You all know when I see "Basics to start your wardrobe" I choke. When I see endless plain tees and jeans, the little butterflies that make up my insides die one by one. It doesn't look like freedom to me, though it could have been- If it were a true, plain, cheap uniform, an argument could be made for freedom and minimalism. As it is, it's a marketing ploy that makes it easy on producers to convince consumers that the subtle variations in their designer jeans and boxy $800 t-shirts matter. The assimilation into designer bland is as anathema to Fantastical Beauty as it is to FRUiTS.

People expressing themselves loudly, visually, and in unusual ways is vital to a healthy aesthetic arena. When someone else is pushing the bounds, it creates more freedom for us all to move within and choose our own self-expressions, including jeans and tees if that is true to you. When you walk out and see a sea of blue jeans and white t-shirts, how much harder will it be for you to wear even your bright turquoise blouse? Or to dress it up with accessories? Let alone to wear those vintage, embroidered, camel, satin pants when a full moon mood strikes.

Not all is lost. If overwhelming bland, there is a historical movement occurring. Currently there is a strong movement toward genderless clothing- both in individual dress, and in the ways that we are marketed to. Instead of "mens clothing" to the left and "women's clothing" to your right, you may just see clothing. While this push currently feeds into the mess that is normcore/basics and is further quick and lazy manufacturing and marketing, it is also carving out necessary and long ignored space for non-binary gender expression that was tenuous and outright dangerous for people before.  

One notable non-binary trend is known as "Genderless Kei" and has been called "Harajuku's online revival" (Harajuku being the neighborhood of Tokyo that FRUiTS sprang from- filled with the young and fashionably expressive). Genderless Kei is a digital trend in and from Japan of androgynous dressing (heads up: the focus is almost entirely on pretty boys dressing in more stereotypical feminine ways, but if lacking in diversity, still a delightful internet hole to fall down).

You can see the opening of fashion and gender on the runways and other high fashion venues, as men and women walk one another's shows, transgender men and women are signed to top agencies (including a NYC trans exclusive agency), and genderfluid expression stuns on the cover of glossy fashion magazines. I read an argument that the industry has moved in favor of normcore as a political statement against increasingly right-wing values. As fascinating as that is, I think the change is one part cultural shift/demand, and one part easier production/marketing for producers (zero parts aggressive political statement). 

So much of the current fashion world is awful, but the increasing inclusion of gender diversity is so very, very right. The problem lies in the notion that neutralizing gender expression in fashion into one grey, shapeless, sweat pants lump is the way to go. Neutralizing is a kind of erasure that doesn't encourage acceptance of diversity so much as it imposes a new, bland, tyrannical standard. Would you rather see 3 ravens, or would you rather see 1 raven, 1 parrot, and 1 flamingo? We aren't all ravens, and we aren't all parrots, but we all play a role in encouraging one another to be who we are and express what we love. Let normcore be a phase; let us come through the other side with newfound freedom of gender and with vivid enough personal expression through aesthetic to give FRUiTS material for decades to come. 

Gowns to the Grocery Store

Audrey Hepburn in Breakfast at Tiffany's.jpg
By Trailer screenshot - Breakfast at Tiffany's trailer, Public Domain, Link

Do you know where I've seen people wear their pajamas? The grocery store, the dentist office, the doctor's office, to meet with professors, the bank, the bar, an office Christmas party...

Come to think of it, I'm not sure anywhere has escaped the modern entitlement of pajamas in public, and when it's not pajamas, there is sure to be someone in "athleisure" wear. This is not a condemnation of these choices, but a response to the domino effect that hyper casual public dressing causes to the rest of us.

ALL of my clients grapple with this reality. For some reason, we are afraid to look too formal, too out of place, too put together, oo stylish in a world where no one seems afraid to look too casual. Many of my same clients who are nervous in wanting to blend in with the casual crowds also bemoan the lack of opportunity to dress up. I feel you, girl, but I also challenge you- I challenge us all to take every day as that opportunity.

I don't want you to be uncomfortable, but to feel free to dress how YOU want to. Don't let the pajama wearers and pretend yogis set the standard for you. See their choices as opening up the stage for anything goes. They can choose to wear a cartoon animal onesie to the grocery store, and you can wear a gown. If asked what you've dressed up for, answer "LIFE, darling" and toss your wrap over your shoulder as you swish away.

Stepping up your image might create discomfort the first time or two, but after a week or so you will see yourself settling in. This is a better domino effect, eh? Dressing to impress yourself helps to carve out a more comfortable space for others to do similarly. Looking great invites the many women who feel chained to Pajama Land to dress their dreams instead of resignation.

With the advent stretch to all fabrics, dressed up can be just as comfortable as dressed down. However you dress, you are making a statement. Are you declaring that you'd rather not think about the impact of your appearance? That you'd rather go along with the crowd than share your own tastes? Or are you declaring that you will wear what you like for this precious short life that we have to express ourselves?

Push yourself from where you're at. If that means wearing funky shoes with jeggings and a t-shirt, get it, love! If that means wearing a gown to the grocery store, I will hi-five you in my colorful suit and 5" heels as we pass.

In the comments please share where the strangest place is that you've seen someone wearing hyper-casual, and/or what you could do to push your own boundaries in the direction you wish you could go.