There’s a girl I see occasionally at the railway station whom I’ve always had a sneaking admiration for. She has her own very individual and pretty unique style, and is always immaculately turned out. If I had to describe her, I’d have to say it was a hybrid of 1940s vintage chic and muted neo-gothic, and boy does she get it right.
This morning, it was a tasteful flowery button-front tea dress, black seamed fishnets, hair net and feathered fascinator, strapped leather booties, all rounded off with a miniature coffin handbag; and she looked, as she always does, stunning. Added to that, she has an easy elegance and poise that effortlessly communicates that she is completely at ease and comfortable with the way she looks.
Compared to the efficient, but bland business suits, ripped knees and t-shirt combos, and tracksuit and trainer brigade, she’s a refreshing and utterly fascinating breath of fresh air, and I only wish I had that same panache and self-confidence to be able to embrace my own style and taste to a similar degree. Unfortunately, I don’t – I tend to fit in with the crowd, in their off the shelf, same as everybody else, conventional, less than distinctive, toeing the line sartorial sameness… But then, most of us tend to, don’t we?
As a rule, our day-to-day attire tends to sit squarely in the uninspiring box… It’s all too easy not to make an effort and to stick with the same old tired combinations and outfits, and even when we’re dressing up, we quite often have the same old standbys that we wheel out, party after party, simply because we know we look good in them and they make us feel good, but – in general – the vast majority of the time, we’re either dressing down or staying safe.
To me there are certain words that we singularly fail to achieve for far too much of the time, (and gentlemen, don’t think that you’re excluded either): chic, stylish, refined, classy, knockout, debonair, sensual, unique, character-full… instead, our wardrobes tend to gravitate more towards words like: comfortable, utilitarian, practical, plain, sensible, functional and machine washable – all perfectly reasonable expectations of day to day wear, but awfully dreary.
And yet, it’s an altogether different picture once we slip into SL.
Once inworld, our choice of clothing takes on a whole new range of expressiveness – seemingly without effort they become the one thing that our clothes in the real world so often fail to achieve: Extensions of our personality and character, enhancing our presence and bolstering our self-esteem. Gone are the practical, hardwearing fabrics in muted colours, in favour of frills and frippery in vibrant hues; frumpy and comfortable becomes cool and classy, whilst football jerseys and trackie bottoms are transformed into natty suits, and casually elegant leisure wear. And the thing is, these outfits aren’t reserved just for special occasions. No, this is our everyday attire – fit for shopping, hanging out with friends, industrial scale building projects, and whatever else we fancy getting up to in the virtual world. We’re more than happy to make the effort in SL, when we wouldn’t even consider it in RL.
I realise, of course, that there are practical considerations to be taken into account when it comes to the real world. Cost, practicality, availability; all come into play and can severely impact upon our ability to allow our clothes to speak for us, but there’s also the ‘C-Word’ – which, in itself, is so often responsible for dumbing down our world and making life far less interesting and exciting than it deserves to be – Convention!
All too often, it’s convention that dictates what we are ‘allowed’ to wear and – more significantly – how comfortable we are likely to feel in the clothes with which we choose to adorn ourselves. We could really do with a little less convention and a little more invention in the real world, because otherwise we just become faceless, characterless, anonymous drones, whilst the real ‘us’ fights a losing battle to retain some semblance of originality and individuality, but is far too timid to appear to be different.
Which is why I admire my post-war neo-gothic girl at the station… Coffin-shaped handbags and A-line dresses may not be to everyone’s taste, but they’re a damn sight more interesting and characterful than all the other grey, black and bland outfits that surround her.
I just wish I had the courage to give it a go myself!
Put on that dress.
I’m going out dancing.
Starting off red,
Clean and sparkling
P J Harvey – Dress