Thursday, July 31, 2008

Copy Editor

Susie Bubble posted these looks from "mum-pleasing" label COS. On first glance, I was quite taken with the clothes, as I often am when confronted with things that are outside my normal style palette. While the aesthetic here is obviously demure, what we have to go on is quality of fabric and cut. In other words, while there's nothing to grab at immediately in terms of innovation, there is a definite point of view. Subtlety is the statement, since the recognizable outfit elements are all there, but they're provided depth through opacity and layering, and made interesting by the quiet tweaks in proportion.

But then I got to thinking. There are two kinds of reactions I have when looking at collections: 1) The kind that makes me want to run out and create the looks for myself, i.e. the inspirational kind. Usually in this case it's because the vision of the designer has spoken to a part of my taste that springs immediately to "I can do that!" And then I'm sent every which way. 2) The other kind is more of a "Hmm" category. Not in the bad sense. But it's not like I'm going to all of a sudden limit myself to blacks and grays and shades of brown. I'm not going to mute other styles to edit myself down. But I'm still intrigued, thinking about the kind of person who would and could easily incorporate these very focused looks. In the case of the above COS images, what's working here is the ensemble. Separately, the pieces would be boring. You'd get a cardigan. You'd get a white shirt. But worn together, they express something collectively. And because each of the shapes and fabrics rely on each other to express whatever their message is, you'd have to keep them together.

My question is: what's the value in creating these puzzle pieces that resist the mix and match we usually value in dressing, in subscribing to one look? More than other kinds of looks, these (and I'm also thinking of other brands that market themselves at lifestyles, at a certain kind of person who would wear their clothes) sort of force you into a staple category. Is it such a bad thing to open a closet and see a narrow range of looks? Not to wow with variety and flexibility, but rather with discretion and subtle difference? Does this take away from the game of dressing, or is it a different game entirely?

Usually, this is a question of age. Youth is the privilege of eclecticism, and as you get older, you focus. Or not. I think the "boring" looks above take on new meaning when someone obviously young wears them.

It's fun to think about. Could I pull it off? Do I want to pull it off?