HEY YOU! NOGOODFORME.COM is now found at...NOGOODFORME.COM! You've stumbled upon our old mirror site instead. Please point your browsers to NOGOODFORME.COM instead and update your newsfeed to http://feeds.feedburner.com/nogoodforme/tYOS. Thanks and we shall see you at NOGOODFORME.COM!
Tuesday , December 14, 2010
A Day in the Life: Our Most Compliment-Attracting Pieces of Clothing
TO QUOTE FAITH NO MORE: THIS ONE'S FOR THE LADIES IN THE HOUSE*
This is not the most compliment-attracting piece of clothing in my wardrobe. It's not even in the top five! Maybe it's number 12. Number one is probably the zebra-striped knee-length polyester skirt I bought for $5 at Salvation Army last summer, which doesn't count, because the majority of those compliment-givers are boys. And boys are gross! (Some of them, anyway.) So of course they're going to praise you for wearing an animal-print stretchy-fabric'd item on the lower half of your body, and then stupidly refer to it as a "tiger skirt." And in your head you're all, "It's a fucking zebra, stupid," but out loud you just say "Thank you," politely but kinda curt, and then you keep walking.
Boys don't ever say anything about this dress, though. But girls sure do! Girls say it's so cute. "Thanks, girls," I reply, even if I'm talking to just one girl at the time. It's like that Spin story I read a few years back, where Chuck Klosterman wrote that Jenny Lewis is "fashionable in the way that women tend to appreciate more than men" - something I don't find all that true about Jenny Lewis, but find absolutely true about my dress. I wear it with knee socks and strappy flats, call myself "a go-go dancer on her way to Sunday school," and oh how the women appreciate it more than the men.
(The women write sonnets and epic ballads and short films about my dress, and the men are all "Where's the tiger skirt?" Boys will be boys. They can't help it, the boys can't help it.)
So, I bought my dress on new year's morning, at that Echo Park vintage store I can never remember the name of. I was in a shit mood, awake way too early, and that shop was really the only thing happening on Sunset Boulevard. I spent a real long time moping through the overstuffed racks and ended up with the dress even though it's nothing like anything I've ever worn - or maybe because it's nothing like anything I've ever worn, this being a new year and new decade and all. It didn't black out my black mood right away, but later on I went down to the beach and I was walking barefoot in my new year's dress and "Tomorrow Never Knows" came up on my iPod shuffle just as a bunch of seagulls flew past and screeched their "Tomorrow Never Knows"-y screech. My, what a comical beach you are!, I gasped to myself and then felt better about everything in the world, in some cool sorta way I can still access now whenever I need to. And later on that night I bought a bottle of champagne mostly because the label so perfectly matched my dress's seafoam green - which is something no stupid tiger skirt's ever been able to pull off, that's for damn sure. (Liz)
*In the intro to their cover of "Easy" by the Commodores, duh.
THE "COZY YET FEROCIOUS" ZEN OF A BLACK MOTORCYCLE JACKET
The first time I ever wore a black motorcycle jacket, I was 14 years old and I was hanging out with this senior dude who had a Mohawk and wore chains around his neck and a leather biker jacket every day to class. He persecuted me in World History class by grabbing my hair and yelling "straw hair!" and belittling my opinions, and I kind of couldn't stand him. I don't mean this in a cute screwball-comedy way. I mean that I really loathed him, right down to the tips of his black combat boots. Normally things like combat boots and chains are cool, except when they are worn by a bully. Yet somehow I found myself in his orbit every so often. What can I say? I was 14 and my options were limited. I was also severely depressed for the one and only time in my life, and I didn't care much who I hung out with, as long as there was someone around. My simple yet brilliant logic was if someone was around, I wouldn't kill myself. That explained why the company surrounding me was all willy-nilly. (I mean, 14 years old was the last time I ever consented to go to a "Christian church group," you know? Like I said: willy-nilly.) Needless to say, 14 years old was the year in my life that I didn't really care what I looked like. I wore anything. I don't remember what I wore.
Somehow, one dreary, depressing, horrible winter day in the most dreary, depressing, horrible year of my life, me and a few people were at this dude's house and he was lecturing us about Joy Division, being the most pedantic and annoying human being on the planet. It's almost a miracle that my love of Joy Division grew out of this moment, because he was making them seem really kind of awful and boring, which they probably could be if you heard them in the wrong state of mind. The room's arctic temperature didn't help, too. It was cold, I was hungry and lonely and all I had was a dude yapping at us in an egomaniacal torrent of pretention. It felt like I was in a scene out of a really weird, brainiac version of River's Edge, but this was before I realized there was a movie called River's Edge. (If you are living a scene out of River's Edge and you don't realize the movie's existence, you just think you are living in the most hopeless life ever. The lack of awareness of a previous cinematic representation approximating your life just makes your reality seem kind of bizarre and horribly singular. Which is why it was such a relief to discover that a movie like River's Edge even existed.)
As he mouthed on and on and on, and I got more and more depressed by the piles of unwashed laundry in the room and this weird musty smell emanating all around, I slung his leather jacket over my shoulders, like it was a blanket. The jacket was heavy, slightly stinky and ill-fitting, but it kept me warm. It was solid and sturdy and self-contained -- everything I clearly was not. And something about the jacket gave me enough swagger to roll my eyes at him when he bugged me about wearing it. He was so annoyed that I just took it! Meek, depressed, quiet me just usurped his favorite, most iconic item of clothing, even in such a small, careless, insignificant way! I should've realized then what power a black leather jacket can bestow upon its wearer, what kind of structure it gives to inchoate angst and anger. I mean, I would've never rolled my eyes at him in the first place if it wasn't for the jacket. I certainly wouldn't have had the guts to ignore him further if I wasn't wearing it, and I definitely wouldn't have scowled and given him the finger, which I did after he harangued and teased and harassed me about it. All that was possible only because I shrugged on his black biker jacket, thus appropriating his armor of aggressive annoyingness into a cozy yet ferocious shell of my own.
I wish I could say that I kicked his pedantic ass, took the leather jacket for my own, had it for years and still have it now. But I didn't. I had to give it back, of course, and then put up with, dear Lord, drivel so long-winded that I've blacked it out from my mind. Maybe if I had filched that leather jacket, I would've been a bad-ass from the beginning. Maybe I would've raised hell, pulled myself out of that bog of a depression more quickly, lost my virginity much sooner, avoided college debt by not going, moved to NYC way earlier, gotten an apartment in Alphabet City back then that investment bankers would now kill for. The black leather jacket has an iconicity that bestows the guts to make your own rules upon a person, and maybe I should've gotten one much earlier in life. How different would I be if I had one when I was 14?
Yet it is never too late for a black leather jacket, because despite feminism and Obama and DIY and punk rock and everything else that speaks or moves in the spirit of human liberation, you will always, always, always be shaking off "rules" and "assumptions" about what it means to be a man/woman/adult/citizen/fulfilled human being. You will be doing this ALL YOUR LIFE and you will need all the help you can get! People will tell you that you need this or do that or think this to be happy, when all you really need is the time, support, freedom and love to be able to figure out what your own personal driver's manual is. Fast forward to New York City five years ago, and finally I decided to fuck veganism and get my very own beautifully-fitted leather jacket. It coincided with a Year of Not Giving A Fuck Once And For All. I washed a man right out of my hair. I said hell no to mindless capitalism. I said yes to a lot of things more important to me, like real love and creative freedom and community and New York. Somehow my black leather jackets are wrapped up in this spirit of possibility, defiance and courage. They literally wrap me up in these virtues in a way that feels palpable, material and accessible. It's highly ironic that they seem to be the items of clothing that garner the most compliments in my wardrobe -- because when I wear them, I feel like I don't need anyone's approval but my own, which is the best gift you can ever give to yourself, really. If it takes a biker jacket to do that, then, by all means, get one. (Kat)
Tags: black leather jackets, boys, champagne, Chuck Klosterman, depression, dresses, Faith No More, girls, go-go dancers, Jenny Lewis, Joy Division, River's Edge, seagulls, teenhood, tiger skirts, Tomorrow Never Knows, Venice Beach
Share | | | |