I care about how I look. There’s just no other way for me to say it. Before I leave my house everyday I carefully judge my options of clothing that are laid out before me. Life’s too short not to be fabulous 365 days a year and why the hell are there only 365? This pisses me off. But, I wasn’t always so fascistic about how I dressed myself day in and day out. Why now? Here I was all of a sudden a fashion junkie with not a care in the world how people judged me, especially in suburbia. It is quite entertaining seeing the looks on the neighbors’ faces, the parents quickly shuttling their children away as if you were a common pedophile, when you come out of your apartment dressed in black tuxedo pants, a shiny silver skinny tie, and someone’s caution to the wind buttery yellow polyester reject prom jacket that’s too tight for your body. Keep in mind that someone actually wore all of these articles at one time.
Looking back on it, I could say that the first signs of me becoming a clothing whore started during my early childhood. My mother can still recount the memories of me stomping away in fashion defiance every morning as she dressed me. It was during an entire one year period that I refused to leave my home without wearing a loud sparkly blue tuxedo jacket with a black lapel that I had apparently worn nearly every day of that one year to the point in which the sewing had come undone and the jacket worn to tatters. I was crushed. After that I had folded for awhile with my obsession with what I wore.
It was as though my fashion sense was on hiatus. Had I become one of those people that I despised? A conformist? I always cared about a style yet didn’t know what reaction I might receive had I had the gall to dress the way I so intensely desired. This is always the first mistake. Don’t ever care how some or most might receive you. Most likely the ones that insult you, you don’t want as friends anyway.
It wasn’t until I met now good friends, Johnny Oh! & Kristen Powers, that I once again became enthralled by what I and other people were wearing. Here is a man that could not only recount the 1950’s like an encyclopedia, even though he hadn’t even been born yet, he lived it; in physical dress and lifestyle. God, how I wish I had any sense in my head to go back to something similar to this years ago. I longed to dress in such a manner. Here were two unique individuals that not only had style… they knew how to carry it with a carefree attitude that said “if you like it, great — If you don’t, kiss my ass!” After studying these two for quite awhile (and stalking others whose fashion sense I adored) I was suddenly given the inside scoop on where one could go to find such clothing.
I find searching the racks at clothing stores and department chains to be more than disappointing. My advice? Forget them. The first rule that I go by is to almost never purchase anything from these locations, let alone buy something at full retail price. Walking aisle after aisle through drab, dark colored men’s clothing that you soon realize is just a rehashed version of the same style from the season the year prior, is enough to drive any self-respecting fashion whore to sheer insanity. Where did all the color and style go with men’s clothing? You might ponder. I’ve asked myself and others this question often until I found stylistic salvation at a local thrift store. Sure, your local church’s thrift store may do for the time being until you become more fashionably promiscuous. But don’t stop there. Attempt to get yourself to the nearest Mecca of style. You know the locations; those depressing brick buildings that house the finest and most outrageous styles from yester-decade. (Here’s a hint: they’re located in the ghetto) Go all out. If you find a sports coat from the 1970’s or pair of 1950’s slacks that you like… buy it. You’ll eventually find something, or anything, to match it with. As a matter of fact… don’t match it. Enjoy the look of revulsion yet intrigue on the faces of the people you meet but keep in mind that with fashion defiance also comes some responsibility. I’m not talking about those old rules set down by “fashion experts” that say “no white after Labor Day” or “you can’t wear black with blue.” Ridiculous! What I’m talking about is experiment and find what looks good on you. Unlike me, some people can be comfortable and look good in anything. Take for instance my best friend, visual artist, Guy McCroy. He’s one of the few lucky ones that could get away with wearing anything. I mean anything from your basic suit to jeans and ridiculous t-shirt. He is surely one of the few lucky ones. This is not me. I’m strictly a slut for sportscoats and an obnoxious pair of slacks.
Once you find a look for yourself, go out to places that you know people will hate you for your fashion sense. I still remember the angered stares I got when I wore a tuxedo to a leather biker bar or my faux couture designer sports coat, complete with purposely laid out bleach stains, to a sports bar. Perfect! Be fashionably honest, too. This really gets on the nerves of those that consider themselves on the “up-and-up” in style. I was once approached by a group of young queens who at first teased me about my jacket only to ask if I bought it at some overpriced designer store in Chelsea. They seemed impressed until I told them that what I had done was take a five dollar jacket from the salvation army and tossed bleach on it, threw it in the washer, and let it hang dry for a “just out of the garbage” type of look. Needless to say they stomped away feeling their fashion egos hurting.
If you’re feeling like an outsider even among outsiders you should have no fear in going an extra step to anger a subculture’s fashion choices. Tease those who are into vintage that only stay within one decade. Throw on a loud 70’s polyester jacket with an annoyingly sickening pattern and pair it with a 60’s skinny tie. There you go. The past 60 years just threw up all over you but damn it feels good to wear all of these things together. One subculture that you should truly attempt to get on the nerves of are the hipsters (those bastions of bad taste and conformity in their attempts to not conform). Take a hideous sweater and make it more hideously wearable and do it with pride. Cut holes it in, burn it a bit around the cuffs. Have fun. Or better yet, wear a three piece suit from the 40’s or dress like some punk kid from the 70’s (leather jacket and spiky blue hair).
If you haven’t gotten it by now, I’m a high-end designer freak although I despise any article of clothing that flashes a name or symbol. Finding yourself in this predicament can be rather unsettling but stop for a second and take a breather. If you find an expensive haute couture article of clothing that you cannot buy and shouldn’t buy… go home and recreate it or… make it even better. Make it yours. Find the bad flaws with the garment and tailor them to your liking. Exaggerate it all and most importantly have fun with it. When your final product comes out it may even look “costumey” to you, but rock it anyway. My friend, comedy writer, Robert Lombardi said to me one Halloween, “One day a year is not good enough to dress up in a costume.” Exactly, so why not do it all year round? After all, Little Edie Beale would be proud. Today it seems almost everyone is a fashion critic who knows what they’re talking about
As I’ve said, get creative. There are very few wrongs that you could commit. All you’ll need to start is an idea, needle, thread, some bleach possibly, and spray paint. For example, if you’re like me, and you want lime green dress shoes with white soles. Grab the spray paint and go to town. Have no fear that the paint will crack with wear because that only makes them look even better. Nobody will know that the shoes cost you five dollars at the thrift store and you took it upon yourself to liberate a boring pair of shoes with spray paint. In the end, just know that you love what you’re wearing and remember that life is too short not to look fabulous every day.