Sartorial Cognitive Dissonance and the Kentucky Derby

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

derby style
photo: Joshua Franzos

Have you ever felt like a fractured version of your self? Like there were so many pieces of past, present and future glittering on the ground like a broken mirror shining in the sun?  No? Okay maybe that's just me and the puppy induced lack of sleep then.

Guys, I think I'm currently in a state of sartorial cognitive dissonance.

I'm a people pleaser, an ADD artist, a writer, a wife, a nose-in-a-booker, a non-profit employee, a dog mom, a friend, an athlete, a cook, a partyer, a get my hands dirtyer, a woman, a tomboy, a capitalist, a socialist, a consumer, a feminist, a wannabe fashion stylist, and a perfection seeker. So all THAT and my all over the place personal style that goes along with each. of. those. compartmentalized. versions. of. myself. needs to cease and become one.

Some how.

It started with my parents moving me in and out of new school systems when I was growing up (I think at least 9 different school systems before junior high). I got used to inserting myself into new social structures and quickly recognized how shallow and visual people truly are. At about 9 years old, I knew that you are firstly judged by what you look like. #sad The shaping of my "style" merely became a defense mechanism, a mask that had next to nothing to do with me personally and really only reflected what I knew would impress my peers.

photo: Joshua Franzos

I'm naturally an introvert, but through necessity, became a Meyers-Briggs borderline extrovert/introvert. I tested smack in the center, but only because I was smart enough to recognize the tangible benefits of acting like an well-dressed extrovert when entering the Roman lion-fighting arena of a new school. The goal is survival, but social stability is definitely on Maslow's hierarchy of needs. So if you ask me, fashion is merely shorthand for extroversion. If you wear something bold or cool enough, someone will usually break the ice for you.

Rachel Zoe says "Style is the way to say who you are without having to speak." That's only true if you're being honest.

Do we use style to tell people who we are or who we want to be?

(Or who we want them to think we are?)  I manipulated many a school social system through my clothing choices and lost my self in the process. And to date, I don't think anyone, save for maybe my husband, has a clue who I really am.
photo: Joshua Franzos
photo: Joshua Franzos

photo: Joshua Franzos

I'm thirty-seven years old and my closet looks like I'm a spy that specializes in masterful disguises. I can probably transform into whoever you need me to be. Ditch digger? got it. MadMen night? done. Night at the Opera? Got that. Mousy secretary? squeak. Mr. Rogers? yep. Chanel suit wearing lady who lunches? got that too. Rockstar? uh huh.  I've always dressed for the situation and have a closet full of clothes for all those situations. But what if I didn't? What if I only owned and wore the clothes that were me? 

Sounds scary. And like freedom.

striped dress
photo: Joshua Franzos
red flower hat
photo: Joshua Franzos

Chanel sunglasses
photo: Joshua Franzos

It's weird to try and evaluate personal style through the lens of fashion blogging. There is a lot of style copying and style homogenization throughout the blogosphere. There is a lot of posturing and hopeful selling of goods and services (and "Lifestyle") through the seemingly grassroots blog. So how meta is the personal style of a blogger? Is it in fact personal? Or is it funneled through what one knows will sell? After three years, I have not made a cent and I will probably forever be a hobby blogger.This realization made me feel like a failure. I then allowed fashion blogging and my low number of social media followers to make me crazy for a period, so I took a blog break to reassess its importance in my life. It wasn't important at all I decided. And for awhile I was sure I'd give it up.Then I remembered the writing. It used to be about the writing and self discovery, and being creative with my husband. And so for as long as this blog continues to persist, that's what it should be about.

Furla clutch
photo: Joshua Franzos

christian louboutin
photo: Joshua Franzos

sporting jewelry
photo: Joshua Franzos
I've been thinking a lot about my personal style and about my desire to let go of the many masks I don. It took writing and this blog, I think, for a voice and a genuine sense of self to bob to the surface amongst the flotsam and jetsam of my disguises. I got caught up in the bizarre horse race of blogging and started to feed the fashion machine, instead of letting it nourish me creatively. In a virtual world that shows you the highlight reel of beautiful people's carefully curated lives, I'm telling you not to believe everything you see. Even right now.The photos before you are lies. It's so easy to fake stuff (I would know, I've been doing it my entire life). But back to the photos of this blog post. This is not me, this is me styled through the glowy lens of fashion blogging that taps into a singular and persistent female fantasy. It's a fantasy that's nice for a fleeting afternoon and that's about it. You think I'm going to be cleaning up puppy accidents with perfect hair and lipstick and high heels? HA! 
I'm done trying to appeal to the masses. I'm going to do me now, and the personal style path I'm heading down will not be as sweet as this dress and these pictures. I don't know how or entirely what yet, but I know that I've already started. In the meantime, I'm going to document some articles that have me all hung up, but don't speak to who I currently am-or will be. This post is one of those instances of document and release where I'm saying goodbye to things and former selves that won't follow me into the future peacefully. 

kentucky derby style
photo: Joshua Franzos

So, the first thing I'm saying goodbye to is this hat and the first self I'm saying goodbye to is the Spendthrift Stylist-who likes to "rescue" high end fashion from auctions or thrift stores even though they aren't her style. She is wowed by beautiful things, big designer names, and she likes to hoard. She likes to make pictures perfect without a care to the future and as a result, sometimes things get worn only once. That is incredibly wasteful. Case in point, the spendthrift stylist bought this hat seven years ago for a "My Fair Lady type photo shoot some day"... Who DOES that?? It doesn't even fit on my head! So in a final Derby-time-of-year-look/heave-ho/last hurrah, I let her buy this $49.95 dress from ASOS (that I will never wear again) simply to make this photo POP. And pop it does, but boy is that Spendthrift Stylist self a manic bitch....Let's call her Felicia. 

BYYYyyyyyeeee Felicia, move your bloomin' arse!


 What I Wore:
Hat: Vintage, Miss Alice.
Clutch: Vintage Furla
Heels: Christian Louboutin, similar HERE.
Chunky plastic Bracelet: vintage.
Bracelet: Early 20th Century reverse painted intaglio sporting bracelet 
Sunnies: old season Chanel.
Lip: Dior 999 

Have you come to terms with your own personal style? How'd it go? Were there selves that were hard to kill off? Did they stay dead? Let me know in the comments.

Your Bosom Friend in Pittsburgh, 

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