A highly developed dress aesthetic.

by Erin on March 24, 2006


Alice Awaits Danger Dame Dress

That's what I am really liking about LA and Pasadena — not just the weather. I am seeing more people than I usually do who seem to have a highly developed dress aesthetic. That is, they seem to have chosen their clothes with extreme mindfulness — not necessarily of fashion, but of the clothes themselves and the way any particular garment will "read" on them. Needless to say, I love it.

This mindfulness reminds me that I really don't buy the concept of "fashion victim" or "fashion mistake". There's really only paying attention to what you're wearing and not paying attention to what you're wearing. I don't care how much your aesthetic runs counter or orthgonal or just plain cattywumpus to my aesthetic as long as I know you THOUGHT about it. It drives me nuts when people tell me, as if they expect a cookie, that they "don't really pay any attention to their clothes." Oh, so you TOTALLY IGNORE A MAJOR ASPECT OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION? And this is a point of pride for you? You might as well be a bonobo. (You'd probably have better sex if you were.)

That said, I can certainly list many, many outfits of my own that reflected either a lack of mindfulness or a misplaced aesthetic. In fact, I could probably give you a top five:

Top Five Misconsidered Clothing Choices of Mine, To Date

  • ripped extremely large jeans (originally belonging to my father), cut off above the knee and worn over long johns, with a white men's undershirt and boy's vintage cowboy boots. I'm not really the ripped-denim type.
  • extremely tight white t-neck ribbed-knit minidress. Note: this was about eight years before Sharon Stone in "Basic Instinct". I was not then and am not now right for this kind of dress.
  • ankle-length abstract-floral voile tent dress. Too much of a great fabric can be a bad thing.
  • Gray miniskirt worn with seafoam green cotton camp shirt, seafoam green ankle socks, and gray jazz shoes. Matching gray hoop earrings. Okay, this was in 1983, but there is still a psychic scar from this level of coordination. It was like my clothes had a Stalin-era work plan.
  • Putty-colored Lands' End pantsuit, with three-button classic jacket (hip length) and side-zip pants. This was so incredibly boring I fell asleep wearing it. I thought I needed to wear a "serious" suit, but it turned out to be a "soporific" suit. I wore it once, and still have it. I think it needs to be set free on eBay.

Ironically, this dress, which absolutely says "LA aesthetic" to me, is on a site (DangerDame.com) with a 718 contact number and is the subject of a photo shoot in Grand Central Station. But it's $99 and is sized up to 40/32/42. If this fits your aesthetic (*cough* midriff band *cough*) go grab it!

{ 14 comments… read them below or add one }

Cambric Tea March 24, 2006 at 9:12 am

Even your “top five worst” show evidence of effort and care.As a matter of fact, I think that all of your top five have been actual movie costumes that Meg Ryan has worn through the 80′s and 90′s. That’s not a bad thing. Meg Ryan was very zeitgeisty in the day.

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vintagecrochetgirl March 24, 2006 at 10:02 am

I adore the dress and the neckline detail (that button tab is just exquisite!); it reminds me of frocks that Ginger Rogers wore in the 1930s. This dress just wants to get up and dance. That said, I’m not wild about red. There used to be a time when I wanted to wear red to show that I was in control. Now I think it’s obnoxious. When you wear red, that’s all that people remember. They don’t remember the dress, just the color. Ugh.

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vintagecrochetgirl March 24, 2006 at 10:03 am

I adore the dress and the neckline detail (that button tab is just exquisite!); it reminds me of frocks that Ginger Rogers wore in the 1930s. This dress just wants to get up and dance. That said, I’m not wild about red. There used to be a time when I wanted to wear red to show that I was in control. Now I think it’s obnoxious. When you wear red, that’s all that people remember. They don’t remember the dress, just the color. Ugh.

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La BellaDonna March 24, 2006 at 12:57 pm

BOY is that my aesthetic!And I would say that red on me is fabulous on me (although it could lead to jokes of What’s black and white and red all over because of my colouring).

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Jilli March 24, 2006 at 1:08 pm

Whaaaaah! Did you see the Lucy in Wonderland dress on that site? This is where I stomp my pointy feet and wail, because the XL would be 2″ too small for me. I am very, very vexed.I don’t understand people who don’t pay attention to what they’re wearing either. But you knew that.

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sdn March 24, 2006 at 3:48 pm

oh god, i know from those fashion choices, at least 1,4, and 5.perhaps this is what comes from having a mother who dressed in “outfits.”

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Liesl March 24, 2006 at 8:11 pm

Just wanted to tell you that I came across your blog earlier this week and have been enjoying reading it. And you are so dead on with this post and your comments about people and clothing – thanks!

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Hexaoct March 24, 2006 at 8:56 pm

“”don’t really pay any attention to their clothes.” Oh, so you TOTALLY IGNORE A MAJOR ASPECT OF HUMAN CIVILIZATION? And this is a point of pride for you? You might as well be a bonobo.”So you compare someone to an ape because they don’t have the same interests as you? Nice.As for why they might find it a “point of pride”, a large majority of that may stem from society telling girls that they should be interested in clothes, otherwise, they aren’t normal. For me at least, when someone constantly tries to get me to do something I don’t want to, I tend to do the opposite.

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Cambric Tea March 24, 2006 at 9:54 pm

I think that being compared to a Bonobo is a high compliment. They are probably more civilized than we are, with their whole, “Make Love not War” philosophy. And they’re cute!One of the few perks of being a human is that we can wear delightful outfits.So if we’re not going to take advantage of what being human does have to offer, if we’re crapping up the planet AND wearing sweatpants doing it then we might as well be Bonobo and save everyone a lot of trouble.That was my read, anyway.

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Carol@Dandelion Vintage March 25, 2006 at 8:45 am

Hi,I’m guilty of the jazz shoes, bunched up socks, leggings and oversized top (with the collar turned up of course) Fuschia was my big color of the 80s.Celebrities who try to dress like they don’t care bug me. ‘It costs alot of money to dress to look like you don’t care’

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keelen March 25, 2006 at 7:15 pm

oh no! i just bought that dress in a brown and green because it was the only choice! i would’ve rocked the red way harder!!! i will be checking back WAY more often now!

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Cambric Tea March 25, 2006 at 7:24 pm

reddresshop.com has this dress in chocolate/lightblue, also.

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Floridaprincess March 26, 2006 at 3:31 pm

I love this dress & the picture you posted. I did not know what a bonobo was so thanks for telling me. I learned something today.I wore anklets in the 80′s and stirup pants. I love Jazz shoes, matter of fact I still have a great pair from Nordy’s if I could get my hands on some more I would.Those were the times when it sounds like you made a big effort to me. I made a far bigger effort back then then I do now. I make no effort now. I was a lot younger then too. I live in crap place where no one cares what they look like. Everyone wears shorts & thats good enough. When I move north I plan on makeing an effort again, if Iam not too old an tired. This place where I reside makes me feel old & tired.

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anneski:) June 14, 2006 at 7:33 am

First, I love your posts (especially The Secret Lives), and this post in particular. Great to know I’m not alone and weird for being concerned about what to wear, or as you call it, having dress aesthetics. =) Sometimes I take a lot of time getting dressed, trying on several sets before deciding/getting on the set that feels like who/what is “me” for the day. Sometimes, especially when I’m on a hurry I put on anything that’s convenient, and I don’t feel great about my clothes, and it feels like I’m having a Bad Body Day ( http://annethology-queen.blogspot.com/2006/03/bad-body-day.html), or as you put it, have had ill-contrived purchases. :)BTW, I am from and in Manila, Philippines and I’m so glad to have found your blog through Blogger’s Blogs of Note.

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