Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Urban Outfitters

I have this unfortunate tendency to get, like, totally obsessed with things. If I buy a shirt that I'm particularly fond of, I'll wear it for a week and a half straight. If I get my hands on a copy of a magazine that I really like, I'll read the damned thing over and over. Same with books: I've read some books upwards of a dozen times. I'll re-watch episodes of television shows I've seen before.

You've done it, too: how many times did you listen to some album or another, especially in the midst of an emotional time? I think this is why teenagers get so into their music: since high school is basically just one gigantic white-water trip through Hormone Valley, emotions run high. Listening to The Roots thirty-five times a days can be soothing....yeah, even with that "!!!!!!!" song, which is basically noisy noise. Ending relationships is the worst for this kind of obsessive behaviour. I remember walking home from an ex-boyfriend's place in the middle of winter, listening to "Lodestar" by the incomparable Sarah Harmer and bawling like a lunatic. It was not, shall we say, one of my finest moments.

Regardless of whether or not it was a personal victory (nope), it was honest. It's amazing how sometimes people need music/books/poetry/whatever in order to organize their personal craziness into a manageable thought process. I still call bullshit on people who use the aforementioned cultural products as replacements for emotions, or who define themselves as certain types of people because they like certain things ("I like '60s garage bands from the Bronx, so I am esoteric and probably a little nerdy! In a good way! Ladies!"). That's a little too Seymour-from-Ghost World for my taste.

However, I totally see the value of having an emotional shorthand at your disposal, especially when it comes to clothing. Clothing is armor. For example, today I'm sporting a neon-tangerine workout top with a built in sports bra. I am notorious for eschewing colour in favour of shades of black, white and gray, but this top makes me feel lean and fit, and post-Thanksgiving, that is worth its weight in hypercolour. Yesterday, it was military jackets and a sleek hoodie (well, as sleek as hoodies get, really), because I was in the mood to kick some ass. Tomorrow, I bet I feel a little bit more femme, and put on a minidress to show some pre-snow bare leg. I bet I get dressed blasting "Jolene" and feeling very fuck-with-me.

Sometimes, on different days, I'll dress up as a Canadian, a farm girl, a 1920s French prostitute or the Iron Giant (easier than you'd think, by the way). Why? Because occasionally, I will be feeling saucy, and the easiest way to express that is through fabric. It's the reason the Oscars has a category for best costume design, and why little boys dress up like Batman for weeks on end. While musical obsessions let you tap into the unsayable parts of yourself, dressing up allows you to wish-fulfill something fierce. If I am usually boring old Kaitlyn Kochany, why shouldn't I be allowed to become Kaitlyn: Aerobics Warrior? Or incorporate some Kurt Russel into my look? I know I could shoehorn some Miss America in there (mostly because I like sashes and giant fake jewels). And could you blame me, if I chose to wear some of those outfits for a few days? Those outfits are killer.

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