When I tell people that I've recently started a fashion blog, there seem to be a few stock reactions. One of which is the super supportive, super encouraging , super friend response of 'That's great!' - and to all y'all who did that, I send you virtual cuddles coz you da best. Another standard reaction making itself apparent however, is the quizzical head tilt, the 'don't you think that's a bit clichéd?' side look. The look that comes before the question, 'Isn't that a bit girly..?'. What I should really do to these people is get all Catherine Tate up in their grills and say, 'Am I bovvered?', but the honest answer to that question would be YES, Catherine - I kinda am. And it's got me wondering why. What is there to be bovvered about? I am a girl, so what's my beef with my blog being deemed girly or overtly feminine? I've been thinking about it, and I believe my issue here is that I don't see fashion (and therefore a blog about fashion) as feminine - or at least not in the sense implied through that pointed tilt-of-head.
I suppose it all boils down to how we define femininity, so I'm going to hand over to the Oxford English dictionary for a moment:
Line breaks: fem¦in|ine
1. Having qualities or an appearance traditionally associated with women, especially delicacy and prettiness:
'the snowdrops gave a feminine touch to the table'
And here's my problemo: I, a female, don't always identify with this archaic concept of femininity. You see, I don't want to be delicate or pretty; what I want is to be bold and bad-ass - and the way I attempt that is through fashion (with questionable success fo sho, but that's the way with creative endeavours). Fashion isn't 'traditional', it's about constant reinvention. It's adventurous and daring - paradoxically, attributes linked to our equally archaic idea of masculinity.
I think this is a good time to draw your attention to Exhibit A: brand consultant, Michelle Harper at NY fashion week, A/W14
Image via The Cut
Despite the fact that she's wearing a skirt, has her hair did, and is flashing her boobies (i.e. if there was a 'girly' checklist, there'd be ticks all round), if I had to give one gendered comment, it would be, 'This chick's got balls'. Because, let's face it, you've gotta be brave to bare your nips in February and to still look so cool (no pun intended) and unfazed.
And then we have Exhibit B: Yves Saint Laurent's classic 1966 smoking jacket - revolutionising women's fashion for good. (And if you haven't seen Jalil Lespert's YSL movie, do. DO IT NOW. Or soon, anyway.)
Image via sfgate.com
Almost the opposite of Harper, the model is dressed like a man, yet oozes womanly appeal. And it's at this moment where I want to high-five fashion, it can be just so darn clever. Fashion is a medium which allows individuals to take a concept we think we know and, like some out of this world break-dancer, flip it on its head and spin it around a few times. And that's what's happening here. Nearly 50 years apart, fashion is enabling people to take an idea of femininity which is old-fashioned and unrealistic, and turn it into something new, bold and bad-ass. Something that reflects an idea of femininity that I don't just identify with, but I aspire to.
So don't dismiss the fashionistas. Don't shrug them off as typical, shoe-loving girly girls. Don't think of them as fashion victims. Sure, some of their looks may fall flat. They might live to rethink that drop-crotch jumpsuit. They might suddenly realise that fluffy handbag looks like a dead badger. Or they might look back and think 'I looked fucking awesome'. But it doesn't really matter what they, I, or you think of the clothes - that's not the point. The point is, these women are gutsily triumphing over outdated notions of femininity and using fashion, the thing which led to them being labelled too girly in the first place, to do it. How cool is that. Fashion victim? Fashion victor, more like.
In short, don't give me funny looks about my fashion blog. Alright?