Friday, June 17, 2011

[Staglevision] simply teevs

Dear friends and readers,

There are many aspects of fashion that I detest: fashion as superficial culture (though I am superficial); fashion as a label parade (though I'm a certified brand whore); fashion without taste. I don't often spend money on new clothes. Unlike my sister, I prefer comfy over vogue and am content to wear socks and underwear until they unravel. Most weekends you'll find me in my coffee house grunge: gray t-shirt, glasses, hoodie, and jeans. I've been known--to Camille's horror--to still wear button-down shirts that I bought in the eighth grade.

What I do like about fashion is its craftsmanship. Fashion as history, fashion as art. Every few years the planets will realign, and an object will command my full, obsessive attention. To buy or not to buy? I'll hunt down the Platonic form of the object in question: memorizing model numbers and specs, befriending salespeople, clipping promo codes for the best possible deal. Family and friends will weigh in with exasperation as my decision making process spans weeks, months. They remember the infamous Kenneth Cole watch of 2005, the APC overcoat of 2008 (Jack!), and most recently, a pair of Persol eyeglasses and Aldo moccasins.

Persol Eyeglasses. PO2857V. 95 - 54 - 16 - 140. I imagine myself flashing this smart Persol frame (with Giuseppe Ratti's iconic, "warrior-inspired" metal arrows) at business meetings and nights at the opera. According to the Persol website, the black acetate is derived from pulverized cotton flowers, allowing the frame to maintain cotton's natural properties--allergy free and warm to the touch. Researching these glasses convinced me that I needed Trivex anti-reflective lenses rather than the standard polycarbonate. Trivex is lighter and has better optics; anti-reflective coating reduces computer glare. "They're an investment!" I told myself. "In my writing! And they really do make a difference.
Aldo Ballato Men's Moccasins. The Ballato's personality is in the details. With its hidden gray laces and metallic eyelets, it's summery yet subdued, a modern boating shoe. Its serious slate-gray canvas and leather exterior contrasts with its playful white and navy-blue checkered interior. Ballato means "danced, footed" in Italian, but when I first wore these shoes, they cut into my heels. That first week, I felt like the little mermaid, "stepping on piercing needles and sharp knives" whenever I set my foot down. My mom noticed immediately: "Why are you limping?" And Tyrrell, ever the bully, said, "Maybe they'll never fit." I endured the pain, washing bloody socks and hoping my foot would mold to the shoe. At last, Camille recommended a pair of heel liners that saved my life.

Perhaps that's the true power of fashion: every object signifies a story we wish to tell about ourselves. Fashion is how we choose to look, a reflection of our taste, not our genes. And sometimes that's worth the cost, worth the pain. To walk into a room reframed, to own something so sleek and well-designed it makes you reconsider yourself.

Till soon,

P.S. Next month I'm attending the Tin House Summer Writers Workshop, a weeklong intensive of workshops, seminars, panels, and readings led by the editors of Tin House and their guests - prominent contemporary American writers of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. I'll be workshopping the fourth chapter of my novel with Jonathan Dee, a Contributing Writer for New York Times Magazine and a former Senior Editor of the Paris Review. I can't wait!
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