Tuesday, November 9, 2010

InStyle: Winter Worn

My friend Rachel is the single most stylish person I know. I don't know how she does it, but she's a dazzler. I've seen her sick with the flu, and even in her febrile state, she's rocking a slouchy toque and the rosy cheeks. When she's not running a fever, she manages to combine these outfits that just amaze me with their insane awesomeness - bangles, DIY haircuts that feature "unicorn horns" and mini-braids, band pins and dresses and hats. I told her years ago that she could place a handful of cabbage on her head and I would totally buy it if she told me it was new, jaunty chapeau, and it's still true.

She's gifted, of course. Not only has she run the gamut from gothic-fabulous to stylie-raver to earthy bohemian, she's saved others from fashion disasters. Notably, she once hid the enormous beaded necklace of a high school buddy in a barbecue - the "beads" were seriously the size of billiard balls, and painted a humiliatingly clownish red. Rachel can be like some fashion oracle, saving those less visionary from tragic missteps and leading the way.

Needless to say, I'm way, way less debonair when it comes to dressing myself. I'm short - not "tiny" or "petite" or any of those delicate ways of telling people that you're five-nothing and a gossamer little sprite of a pixie of a person; I have some heft to me - and have big, curly hair. Not on purpose. If I was a different kind of gal, I'd be like Dolly Parton, all boobs and hair and smile. But I'm a moody sumbitch sometimes, and I can't quite pull off pleather clamdiggers. My fashion tastes run a little odd sometimes - floaty maxi skirts and dresses paired with kimono-cut tops, tight little jackets, cargo capris, slutty tank tops, scarves and wrist gauntlets. The colour palette is a lot of grey and black, with some red and navy in there to lighten the mood. It's sort of a post-industrial prettiness, one that wouldn't be out of place in a stylized zombie invasion or a bummer of a WWOOFing trip.

Winter is my favourite time to dress, not least because I get to shrug my shoulders at all the girls on the U of T campus who wear tights under their booty shorts for a year-round take on the Daisy Duke. I also get to maximize my layers: one of my favourite games to play mid-December is to count how many shirts are between my bare skin and the outside world. It averages out to five or six, leaving me with a plethora of options when I get into the overheated bar or onto the packed-yet-chilly streetcar. It also beats the hell out of summer, when going topless feels like too much clothing. I love a layered-up guy, too: a rolled-up-sleeves shirt over a band tee matched with a hoodie, some scarves, a hat: they become sexy little bundles of coziness and fashion.

I'm not one of those people who thinks that every outfit represents something essential about its wearer - but I do believe in thoughtful fashion. Even if your closet is stuffed with nondescript tops and blah sort of bottoms, there's a method to one's madness (even if the final result is a weak "please don't look at me"). Just like musical taste, fashion choices can show the world who you are, but only up to a point...you also have to be an interesting person when you're naked and your stereo is busted.

And this is such a great time of year for stuff like this. A brand-new coat or sweater can make a world of difference in feeling ready for the seasonal oppression. The other day, I put on my snowpants (a video-game green) and a black tank top and felt very tough and winter-ready, like I'd been fistfighting in the snow all day. I'm figuring out ways to incorporate my silly summer dresses into Canadian winters - sometimes by wearing two or three at a time - and breaking out woolly hats and legwarmers in order to ease the transition. Sure my feet are sometimes cold, or I misjudge an overcast day and end up sweating in my down vest, but it makes me feel better to know I'm suited up, fashionable (-ish), feeling like myself, and feeling good. And I rely on Rachel to size me up occasionally, maybe putting a particularly ridiculous accessory in the oven in order to save me from myself.

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying to find some slutty band layers for the upcoming months deep in a football field-sized tupperware bin in my closet. No luck yet.