Saturday, May 7, 2011

I Heart Maxi Dresses

Spring fashion is not traditionally a thing I give a shit about, but this year's glut of maxi dresses, urban safari looks and wide-legged pants has me all excited about spending money. I went into the Gap today and sussed out a weird, Japanese-looking dress that got my heart all a flutter. I love silhouettes that remind me of experimental Asian fashion from the 1980s, and this piece was a primo example of such a phenomenon. Bring on the square dresses and the headscarves! I love them!

Spring fashion also allows for a certain amount of sartorial rebirth - the unswaddling of the winter layers means that my butterfly is emerging, and this year, the butterfly is all about the legging/Blundstone/long tank combo. It also allows for fashion patterns to come to light: for the last three years, I've gone out and gotten my hands on a pair of egregiously unflattering capri pants and then worn then daily until the snow flies. This year's iteration has pleats and pegged ankles; they're just off-the-charts disgusting. I adore them. They are hideous. And next year, I'll likely be getting a pair that make my unsheddable winter weight even more prominent that these bad boys! I can hardly wait.

I wear basically the same thing every day in the winter: black tights, a skirt, some kind of tank top and then a sweater. Summer allows a little more freedom. Some light scarves, or cute-but-confounding tank top/dress thingies? Sold. A maxi skirt with flip-flops and a shawl? I look like the mother of the bride at a California hippie wedding, but also: YES. A tube top and linen capris that make me look like a pottery teacher in 1984? OBVIOUSLY. Give me more!

Dressing my age has never been my strong suit - I either look twelve or sixty-five - and I've yet to master the shoe (I would wear fashion runners with everything, given half a chance), but damn, I know what I like when it comes to fashion. I feel like, along with planning weddings and raising kids, everyone has highly defined logic behind the way they choose to dress, if only someone would ask them. One of my pals defines her aesthetic as "lesbian gym teacher," a look that involves a lot of technical fabrics and cycling safety gear, while her husband might be best described as "highly, unquestionably, undeniably Canadian," featuring plaids upon plaids, toques and jeans. My boyfriend wears band tees and tight jeans 100% of the time, which I find sexy and he finds practical, since he owns pretty much every band tee every produced.

Others hew to a more fashionable line, following trends in hemlines and patterns, but keeping it personal when it comes to silhouettes and colours. Even though they seem to be everywhere this summer, one of my gal-pals flat-out refuses to attempt a maxi dress - given that they add weight to non-lithe frames, I should avoid them too, but I don't really care. I balance my long skirts with booty shorts and tube tops; I end up varying wildly between looking like a sex worker and looking like an Orthodox Jew. It's madness, but so satisfying.

In any case, the best thing about the spring shop is getting all the little pieces together for the upcoming heat, assembling tiny scraps of fabric that will become outfits fit for heat waves, putting together more substantial ensembles for rainy days and Mondays. Office wear needs to be considered, since some buildings overcompensate for the shimmering sidewalks outside to a point where you need a cardigan or you'll shiver. Cycling commuters need to take mid-afternoon thunderstorms into account, and we all need transitions from the schwarma joint to the CD store to beers on the patio to the dancefloor. The spring shop is essential to reset the mind from winter to summer, from bare trees to leaves, from shoveling the walk to mowing the lawn. Fashion is all about what's between your ears instead of what's going on below your collarbone, and spring is such a fun time to think critically about the way we clothe ourselves. Have fun in the boutiques, and don't forget to accessorize!

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