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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
The nogoodforme Guerrilla: Laura Jane takes Wal-Mart
If there is one thing I love in this world, it's a good caper- and I'm not talking about the edible berry of the perennial spiny shrub of the Capparis Spinosa, most commonly utilized in traditional Sicilian cooking. I'm talking about running knock-kneed around the world with no regard for rules or regulations, wreaking havoc for havoc's sake, eating stolen candy out of a shopping cart, breaking into the Museum of Natural History and sleeping inside a sarcophagus, so on, and so forth.
My general approach to dressing myself often errs toward the caper-ific in my insatiable appetite for awkward print-mixing and an unnecessary reliance on conceptualism, so I figured I might as well take my devil-may-care sartorial ethos a step further and tweak it into full-blown Fashion Guerrilla-dom.
I did so. Most of my greatest ideas are borne from being bored out of my skull at my parents' house in Suburbia, Ontario, and the Great Wal-Mart Wardrobe Challenge was no exception- in my case, creativity seriously stems from constraint, or desperation at least. In lieu of subjecting myself to one more mind-numbing day of daytime TV, gas station runs and excessive Diet Coke consumption, I decided to take the world's most nauseating corporation up on a claim it had sold to me in a particularly unbelievable advertisement the previous evening.
The plot of the ad was as follows: a sunburnt, tousle-haired blonde woman has been marooned on a desert island for five-odd years (this premise was obviously designed to cash in on Lost-related desert-island fascinations). She is rescued, and asks the helicopter pilot what year it is. 2008, he replies.
Oh My God! the woman exclaims (Actually, she probably says "Gosh". These are conservative times, you know), I have to go buy a whole new wardrobe!
Cut to idyllic imagery of the woman romping through the harshly-lit aisles of her local Wal-Mart superstore. Trying on charming earth-toned suit jackets, boot-cut jeans, plaid canvas Vans approximations, gobs of turquoise jewelry, and etc.
Of course this ridiculous commercial prompted me to spew caustic anti-Wal-Mart-isms to my poor Father for the next twenty-five minutes, then again every time the commercial replayed, which happened often, duh. I mean, come on. As if any girl who gives half a card about seasonal dressing would choose to buy her whole new wardrobe at Wal-Mart. That is such an obvious point that I feel stupid even writing it. Like, God, Desert Island girl, I realize you are probably short on cash considering your long spell of unemployment, but PLEASE: go to H&M for Chrissakes. Go to Old Navy for all I care. Just don't go to Wal-Mart. They sell guns and use slave labor and probably do something unethical to puppies I'm sure.
But in the name of great capering I decided to temporarily forgive Wal-Mart for murdering puppies (or at least forget). Fine, Wal-Mart. Prove me wrong, Wal-Mart. Prove yourself right. If you say I can buy myself a sweet and satisfying new wardrobe at your gross mega-hell, I mean store, I guess I'll take your word for it. Apparently you're pretty wise. Wise enough to take over the whole world with your blank, banal, mindless approach to lifestyle branding. Show me who's boss, Wal-Mart. Is it me? Is it you?
I grabbed my good friend Eric and we made the expedition over to the dark side of mass-market retail. We spent about two hours shopping until we dropped. Oh, and by "dropped" I mean "Got kicked out of Wal-Mart for taking photographs and generally behaving inappropriately, if not antagonistically." This pissed me off especially because I ended up deciding that Wal-Mart is a perfectly awesome place to construct an entire new wardrobe. I thought it was really reactionary of Wal-Mart to kick us out without bothering to take the time to realize that I was totally loving the shit out of their sweatshop merch and sick accessories department. I guess we were just a little too conspicuous for our own good- Eric is almost seven feet tall (no joke! He was totally the Thurston Moore of Cawthra Park Secondary School in his day), and I am one of those obnoxious people completely inequipped to deal with being anything but the center of attention of all center of attentions. I'm a loudmouth, and look weird.
Truth be told, Wal-Mart is really cool. This article is positive, on the whole. I constructed four killer looks that I would actually wear walking down the street without feeling like a total loser. I had at least two more full looks in our shopping cart that I'm sure would have ruled equally, but our cagey little jig got upped and we were thrown out to the wolves by grouchypants floor managers.
1. Strawberry Shortcake at the Kennedy Compound
I saw these classic white high-waisted Bermuda shorts and knew they had the potential to throw me into serious nouveau-Gatsby territory. The great thing about Wal-Mart is that 90% of their pants/shorts/skirts are high-waisted, so you can capitalize on the high-waisted trend without having to spend excessive amounts of cash on Opening Ceremony shit or at least all the garbage that's trickled down to Urban Outfitters by this point. I paired them with a plain white wifebeater. If I hadn't been having an anxiety attack about getting thrown out the entire time I was there, I probably would have worn a black bra underneath the beater, which I always find to be a weirdly classy way for non-slutty women to incorporate skankiness into their everyday wardrobes.
I accessorized with a white scarf tied around my head, mostly because I really hate my hair these days and always have a scarf tied around my head anyway. These $14.92 gold flats were really cute; I would have bought them if I didn't have 20 billion beat-up pairs of metallic flats hanging around my life already. The cutesy-pie pink plastic heart necklace was the perfect way to bring a little touch of humor to an otherwise kinda trad look: I spent my early teens buying way too eagerly into candy-raverdom, and as such will always have a soft spot for jewelry that looks like it is made out of corn syrup and Synthetic Dye #00000564.
2. Android Gwyneth Paltrow
I can't even explain how hard I fell for this silver raincoat. I walked around the store wearing it for the majority of the Caper, which I suppose must have abetted in calling massive amounts of attention to our madness. I would have bought it, but it was sixty dollars, which seemed a little ridiculous considering it probably cost a ha'penny to make. I bought these jeans instead, because they were a mere twenty bucks, and happened to fit me better than pretty much any other pair of jeans I've ever worn, especially Sevens, which look really bad on me. I ripped giant holes into the knees because, you know, they were twenty dollars, so I didn't feel too bad about defiling them.
This ladies' work-out top was oddly reminiscent of Christopher Kane's first collection, and, excepting the plastic tag which connected the two shoes and forced me to waddle around somewhat constrictedly, these green loafers were actually pretty swank.
And for the record, in my opinion, the most important principle of any stellar wardrobe is:
Everything looks better with the collar popped.
3. Second Date at Six Flags
I have mused about my severe t-shirt addiction before on this blog, and I'm sure I will again, bearing in mind the accelerated pace with which I am always more than willing to drop any amount of money on a sweet tee. So, I was particularly stoked to check out the Wal-Mart little boys' department, where I knew I could at least find some sort of plain polo or thermal that would scratch the itch. Instead, I was lucky enough to find a series of black t-shirts featuring unflattering and sort of terrifying caricatures of NBA All-Stars. I opted for Kobe Bryant, mostly because they were all outta Yao Mings in my size.
I paired the t-shirt with cute lil' plaid shorts, which, like the gold flats, I would have bought in a heartbeat if I didn't have 50 billion pairs of cute lil' plaid shorts to begin with, which I do. I found a cool transparent plastic belt. It is even cooler than you think- it has a Carnaby Street-esque giant green plastic buckle that I had to hide around back since a bunch of security devices were attached to it, which looked stupid. The espadrille flats are chill, and the beach bag is kind of lame, but you know, it gets the job done as well as any other blah tote bag.
So yeah: if I were going to drink a blue razzberry Icee, play that stupid game where you fish for goldfish with a magnetic rod that I always lose at, and make out with a hot stoner boy on the Wonder Wheel on a sweaty July evening, I would totally rock this.
4. What Mary Quant wore when she volunteered at a nursing home
Believe it or not, this kimono-sleeved minidress was actually not designed by Emilio Pucci. It is the top half of a pair of really fly nurse's scrubs. I initially put together this look using a bubblegum pink scrub shirt, but it was indecently short, so I asked Eric to grab me an XL in the same color. He found this paisley pastel number instead, proving that he is the Grace Coddington of Mississauga, Ontario's Square One Shopping Centre indeed. I belted the "dress" with this silver-and-black Op-Art thing, and thanked the sweet Lord above that somebody else had removed these burgundy cable-knit stockings from their packaging.
Okay- and can you believe these shoes? When I found them, I texted Mary-Kate Olsen on my iPhone to keep her in the know, and she bought ten pairs that exact instant. You probably saw her wearing them at Givenchy Fall/Winter 08. These patent platforms are another case of "I would have bought them if..." which this time around happens to be, "I would have bought them if I was capable of wearing a pair of shoes with any heel higher than 1/2-inch without inflicting major harm upon myself."
Because I think this outfit would probably have been ruined by bloody knees, a fat lip, and tear-stained cheeks. Or maybe not, actually. I am rather fond of scrappiness.
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