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Tuesday , December 14, 2010
HOW TO DRESS YOURSELF: The National Geographspiration Edition
How To Dress Yourself is a new column I just invented (and immediately patented, so never say "How To Dress Yourself" again, or I will sue your sorry ass all the way to Timbuktu. I'm warning you!). Posts falling into the "How To Dress Yourself" category typify the exact midpoint between Imaginary Shopping Spree and For A Date With, with a little dash of the Laura Jane Fashion Challenge spirit thrown in for good measure.
Today's lesson in How To Dress Yourself is based around the tried, tested and true obviousiality (Okay, seriously- how is that not a real word?!?) that people from a long time ago had astonishingly good personal style by complete accident. It's the fashion equivalent of the grass always being greener on the other side. The only way to look legitimately cool within the tedious terrain of Sartorial 2009 is to dress like you're from the past, but not too much like you're from the past, or people might mistake you for a time traveller. This can be inconvenient as fuck when you're trying to grab your morning coffee, and some stranger is all, "Hey, Whoa! Are you from 1935? What's the Great Depression like?"
The balance between looking like a time traveller from 1935 and looking like a person from the present who is inspired by how people looked in 1935 is very delicate, which is why I am here to teach you How To Dress Yourself. In Focus: National Geographic Portraits is a great place to begin; every featured subject (except for creepy drug addicts from the 1980s, but even them kind of) has tons better style than if you combined every single person in every single society snap that has been in American Vogue since 1998.
As follows is a brief tutorial in how to pilcher the most sublime sartorial tics of old-timey nobodies without looking like an old-timey nobody yourself. Old-timey Nobody Chic is OVER.
1. A Puerto Rican Debutante in the 1920s, Charles Martin (1924)
THE LOOK: (1) Metallic Gold Front-Pocket Tunic, Barney's New York; (2) Burnt Gold Gradient Web Necklace, Arielle de Pinto; (3) Digicam/Cigarette Case, Josey Wales; (4) Leather Cut-out Thigh-Highs, Rodarte; (5) Tibetan Lambshair Clutch, Lisa Kingsley; (6) Black Snakeskin Heels, F-Troupe
I am in love with this girl. She is the most charming person ever to have lived. I feel like she must have had a comely, delicate, and well-composed older sister whose shadow she perpetually lived in; her palpable gracelessness and scrappy, skinned-knee anti-poise screams Baby Sis. It's strange to me how her exact outfit is actually very, very now, in a "Kirsten Dunst in Erin Fetherston" way. Since this look barely even requires present-day transposition, I decided to put the kibosh on its unabashed prettiness and turn it into something mad-crazy. My heart pangs for this girl, hiding behind a boa, forcing out an uncomfortable "Whaddya gonna do?" half-smile for the National Geographic photographer who randomly (and probably annoyingly) showed up at her coming out party. Perhaps I am being overly sentimental, but I think our Puerto Rican Deb would be a lot happier if she were wearing Rodarte leggings and a kicky bubble-hem instead of something so confectionary. Trends come and go, but the core truths of life always remain the same: girls who like to climb trees need to wear minis; you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink (or, "you can dress up an awkward Borinquen deb in a party dress, but she'll never be Grace Kelly, which is why she is crazy-winsome and 100% My New Style Icon").
2. Amish Boy with his Pet Guinea Pig, William Albert Allard (1965; Lancaster County, Pennsylvania)
THE LOOK: (1) "Belmondo" Trilby Hat, Albertus Swanepoel; (2) Plaid Short Overalls, Final home; (3) Canvas Lace Bootie, Ecote; (4) Baby Doe Reindeer Ring, Vera Meat; (5) Dangling Gold-disc Necklace, J.Crew; (6) Girl Power Beater, Dimepiece Designs
It makes me so sad that this poor little buddy had the shit luck of being born Amish (it's nice that you can say whatever you want about Amish people on the Internet, since they probably don't check the Internet a whole lot). Dude must have grown up to be so hot (sans beard and top hat, that is)- I hope he made it out of his weird time-warp cult alive. This kid should not be feebly petting a guinea pig. He should be under the bleachers, heavily petting a hot babe who reeks of Love's Baby Soft and Bazooka Joe. This picture looks like it was taken in 1900, but it's from 1965. I wish I could travel back in time and steal Baby Hot Stuff away to my 1965 Life and play him "Norwegian Wood." Listening to "Norwegian Wood" would be a good transition from Amish life into normal life, since it's about wood and all that. Amish people love wood. They build chapels out of it, and then Harrison Ford comes along and is gruff at first but eventually learns a valuable lesson about loving thy brother.
As much as I just beat this dude up for pally-palling around with a rodent instead of a hot girl, another core truth of existence on this planet is that anything and everything is improved by the presence of a cute animal. I wonder what this wee dude would have thought if, in 1965, somebody had told him that in forty-four years time, he would one day be featured on nogoodforme.com, positioned as a legitimate Style Icon by a nutty Canuck. In other news, it's really messed up that people born in 1965 are forty-four years old now. I feel like they should be 20.
3. Received, Maynard Owen Williams (1922; Tidal Basin, Washington D.C.)
THE LOOK: (1) Cropped Collarless Trench, Boy by Band of Outsiders; (2) Lace Date Top, Kimchi; (3) Patterned Knee Socks, Henrik Vibskov; (4) Multi Python Flats; (5) Big Bow Satin Belt, Thread Social; (6) Raffia Headband, Christine Bec for Opening Ceremony
These people are dead now. I suppose there is a minute chance that one of them is alive and the oldest woman in the world, but odds are, she isn't. It is utterly astounding to me how amazing these women look. Together, they make up the Sazerac of Cute Girls in Swimsuits.
I'm sure that, in certain ways, 1922 bit the big one. My gender would have limited and oppressed me; at 23, I would probably be barefoot, preggers, and absolutely teeming with undeveloped potential. Also, I would be forced to wear my specs, and there would be no such thing as straightening irons, let alone Beatles. But, in 1922, people compensated. It is unlikely that the three women in this photo were mega-innovators. As much as I direly wish it wasn't the case, they were probably the 1922 equivalent of three chicks idling around in Hollister luau-print bikinis and Brazilian-flag embellished Havaianas. Best case scenario, they were Lauren Conrad.
What I love most of all about the girls in this image is the visible effort that has gone into fashioning their twee little swimming costumes. Why must the current state of affairs consider clothing functional only if it can be "thrown on"? I am guilty of this myself- all I ever talk about on nogoodforme is "throwing it on." Style icons or utter Normies, these babes did not just throw this shit on. They considered, planned, prepared, costumed, deemed and preened. In 1922, there was less crap to stress out about, so you could devote more time to looking awesome on the beach, which makes perfect sense. 1922 people were RIGHT.
My new fashion goal for Summer 2009: Pair knee-socks with a swimsuit.
4. Young Women (Canary Islands), Wilhelm Tobien (1930)
THE LOOK: (1) Pastel Tulip Jacket, Martin Lamothe; (2) "Daydreamer" Headpiece, Gold Saturn; (3) "Bling" Necklace, Orfeo Quagliata; (4) Patent Sandals, Oscar de la Renta; (5) "Ode-To-May" Scarf, Anthropologie
A lot of things suck stunningly about the sorry state of Two Thousand "The Crappiest Year Yet!" And Nine, but one of my personal favourites is that its people (even non-Normies!) have forgotten how to wear colour. Ours is a Dystopian society, the population drab in greys, olives and blacks- no wonder everybody is depressed all the time! People are bored and sad, and so they go on anti-depressants, and such is the cold, hard truth behind the tragic tale of How Evil Pfizer Came to Rule the World.
If everybody dressed more like these two saucy chicas from the Canary Islands in 1930, we could take down all those heinous pharmaceutical companies in about five minutes. Life would be exactly like the lyrics to "Imagine" by John Lennon, and chick movie stars would wear Martin Lamothe and Peter Jensen to the Academy Awards in lieu of Elie "I'm the Worst Designer in the World" Saab. I can semi-fathom why somebody would interpret the look I created in homage to the two hottest babes of all time as being a bit over-the-top, but it's all just conditioning. Baby steps, guys, baby steps. Start out with just the shawl and the shoes, slowly phase in the headdress and necklace, and then, before you know it, that drapey Easter coat will be your new Laundry Day staple.
5. Strawberry Harvest (Hammond district of Louisiana), Edwin L. Wisherd (1930)
Strawberries are so cute! They are like the baby animals of fruit. Fruit, on the other hand, is like the baby animals of food; ergo, the closest thing there is on Earth to baby animals besides baby humans is strawberries. Quod Erat Em Effing Demonstrandum, Ladies & Germs.
There are few professions in the world less appealing to me than "farmer" (off the top of my head, the only ones I can think of are "septic tank cleaner," "professional bodybuilder," and "slave"), but being a strawberry picker must be the best possible form of farmer, since it's not quite so physically taxing, and you get to eat strawberries all the time. Actually, going strawberry picking would be the cute date of my dreams (Seth Meyers, take heed!). This girl's life was basically one neverending cute date, which is probably why she's smiling. Or, perhaps she is smiling because she is rocking her new pair of 80%20 wedge sneakers, which are not shown in this image, because it would have seriously fucked with its quaintitude.
Tags: 2009: The Crappiest Year Yet!, Amish people, Elie Saab, Grace Kelly, Hollister, How to dress yourself, I Hate My Generation, John Lennon, Kirsten Dunst, Lauren Conrad, National Geographic, Pfizer, Rodarte, Sazeracs, strawberries, strawberries are the baby animals of food, time travel
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