today’s ensemble

Ten hours ago, I posted this status update on Facebook:

Nada Gordon is thinking this morning about, uh, Vito Acconci, Adrian Piper, Yasumasu Morimura, Duchamp, etc. and wondering if I can use their precedents to justify my “today’s ensemble” outfit chronicling on Ululations, like, what would it take to propel my basically adolescent impulse to do that into real Art? Maybe more analysis. Today’s chronicling had a glitch, so maybe I should investigate the glitches?

Darren Wershler suggested LESS analysis, and dry descriptive prose. I said I can’t do dry prose. Jen Robinson said to not worry and to edit like hell. I can’t edit what is daily and instantaneous, not to mention essentially self-revelatory. So then I said my question had been somewhat ironic because “I think it’s all art, what the teens do with their documentation, too. The folks above just pitch it differently.”

I really want to believe that, but I have to face up to my discomforts around having begun this project. I am enjoying it, certainly. I think I really could continue it indefinitely, as long as it doesn’t too often make me too late for work. I am finding it oddly therapeutic, like Maoist big-character self-criticism, or Catholic confession, and while it’s not quite as cathartic as a primal scream, I can see that doing this on a daily basis might really force me to confront a thousand crucial issues, about identity and body and ageing and privacy, in a way that is, I hope, artful and thoughtful as well as entertaining.

I’m just wondering, and maybe you all can help me with this, do you find it all just too discomfiting: the poses, the seeming narcissism (I don’t think it’s that simple, but I can see how it might appear that way), the excessive self-consciousness, the conspicuous possessions, and so on? Because if you do I can focus on something else, like manufactured literary controversies, or the meaning of the word “poetics,” for example; it isn’t that I dislike modeling my wardrobe, but I don’t want to freak anyone out, either, or at least not too much. And I want you to know also that it isn’t that I don’t think about, you know, ethnic strife in China, or the global economic recession, because, well, of course I do, even if such matters do not form the bulk of my discourse.

I suppose this question, then, is my way of saying to my readers that, hey, I care about you, even enough to pander to you. Shall I continue with the project? What do you think? Be honest, please.

It occurs to me also that you all may just be used to seeing this sort of thing from me and are just saying, ho hum, she’s at it again, that Nada.

Those of you who have read this far, anyway, are probably wondering what this morning’s glitch was and when I am going to get to today’s ensemble already, right? Well, let me begin by saying that although I am neurotic about many things, there are few things I am more neurotic about than clothing. It can take me twenty minutes to decide what to wear to clean the house. This morning I must have changed clothes four or five times. I initially thought to choose an outfit to respond to Laura’s post on foof, and put on a pale pink skirt with interesting irregular seams on top of which I have sewn a variety of types of old-fashioned-looking cream lace. The top was the problem. The sheer cotton pale pink wrap top with the delicate ruffle was nowhere to be found in my closet, and I tried at least three tops on with the skirt, but none of them felt right, and to be honest, I wasn’t in so much of a foofy mood today anyway (plus I really don’t look all that great in pastels).

Can I just say that I am really not the sort of person who can choose her outfits the night before and lay them out ready to just slide into after my morning shower? Oh no. The outfits have to kind of congeal around a particular piece that speaks to some message or mood of the day. It can be a pair of shoes or a t-shirt or a hair ornament, even, but it isn’t something that I can totally premeditate.

So eventually, the pale pink skirt came off (I’ll have to model it for you another day, should you encourage me to continue this) and I put on this outfit. I thought this outfit was very simple but groovy, actually. The t-shirt was a complimentary gift from Anna Moschovakis at the Notes on Conceptualism(s) book party; if you read the book, you will know what a Sobject is. So that was my one cool thing signaling to anyone in the know that I am happening and with the times, but honestly even if I had managed to wear this today, I don’t think anyone I saw at work or on the street or on the train would have got the reference, so maybe I was just thinking too much. The skirt is just s basic thing from Old Navy, but it is in my signature color to match my tattoo and my lipstick, which might as well be tattooed on, right?

OK, the glitch, just in case you hadn’t noticed it already: it was hot this morning, and I’m sweating in this picture, see? That is a BODILY FLUID, people. I think there’s some kind of taboo about that. I love that in Bollywood films of the 50s and 60s the dancing girls are all sweating right through their cholis; even Madhubala is sweating in that amazing dance scene she does before the king in Mughal-e-Azaam, really ruining that amazing aqua and scarlet outfit she wears. But no, at first I thought, I can’t post this picture, I’m sweating in it. But now that I’m thinking of this as a real Project, I realize that I sort of have to, that it’s part of the whole gestalt of the thing. Besides, I like my pose here; it’s classic contrapostto (sp?) and it shows my dance training, for whatever good it’s done me. So here is the outfit I DIDN’T wear today.


I changed out of that into this actually a little foofy purple cotton damask dress with the pintucks in the front and the cunning little pewter buttons. I love this dress; it fits me like it was made for me (and I bought it cheap at a little store on Grand St., in Chinatown; I think it was made in Taiwan or Hong Kong), but it’s a bit of an “old standby.” It’s infantilizing, as well, but I don’t think I care about that.

purple damask

I apologize for the pose here. It’s too much, isn’t it? There’s something a little obscene about this photo, and of photos of me in general. I will need to say more about this later, when I figure out just what it is. Maybe it’s because I’m a female, and that always surprises me? Also, I don’t think I have learned to be natural in front of a camera, especially my own with a self-timer. I also notice that if I do try to just be natural, especially in the morning, I end up just looking tired (because, to be honest, I am tired most of the time).

I also notice, actually writing this, is that the purple damask dress calls into memory my favorite dress from childhood, which was a pale blue “sprigged calico” (like the ones I used to read about in the Laura Ingalls Wilder books), also with the little buttons down the front. I found it in the Bolinas freebox when I was, I would say, maybe nine or so, and wore it maybe until I was twelve and it was terribly ripped and much too small for me. I almost think I would still find some way to wear it today if I could.

(here with my dear friend Peggy in a beautiful photo by dear friend Elia Haworth)

Lest you think I am only being conscious of and recording my own outfits today, I leave you with a few images of other people I came across today. The gorgeous blonde in the striped skirt is my neighbor, the poet Boni Joi. The Japanese woman with the awesome dreads very kindly let me photograph her in the Metropolitan Ave. Station (I asked her nicely in Japanese!). The photo of the woman in the clingy dress with the amazing ass (oh my god! you should have seen her walking up the stairs later, swinging this way and that: she was like Marilyn Monroe! Everyone swiveled their heads toward her) I took surreptitiously, as I did the one of the reflection in the train doors of the very thin person (woman? not sure) in the blonde fall.

Boni Joi




10 thoughts on “today’s ensemble

  1. Here's the choice I have to make in the morning on weekdays:

    -gray shirt
    -other gray shirt
    -blue-and-white striped shirt
    -dark gray shirt
    -black shirt with thin little stripes of varying colors

    I used to have a blue shirt, and even a pink shirt, but they broke. They were my favorite shirts too, hand-me-downs from my dad.

    In the area of pants, my choice is:

    -black dress pants
    -black dockers with missing belt loop that I somehow didn't notice in the store
    -gray dockers
    -black dockers with small hole in the right buttock area

    Laundry day is when the choice is easiest, because on that day, by definition, all but one item in each category have been eliminated as options, soiled as they are.

    I have but no longer wear about 4 or 5 other black/gray dockers with holes in their butts and/or fronts. With my rotation down to 4, I guess it's time for more dockers. Luckily I have a gift card.

    Sometimes I wish I had all new clothes, but really what I need is a job where I don't have to dress up at all.

    Jeans and a white t-shirt: that I would not mind wearing every day.

    I'm talking all about myself, but I liked this post. As for the project, you have my official approval.

  2. Oh, definitely keep up with it. The way you are questioning it, feeling your way through it, makes it clear that it's worth doing.

    I think you could push it more — which you seem to be doing, by going out with your camera. Might be interesting to take photos of the outfits just on hangers, too, or the same outfit on several different people. Or you could take your camera out, take photos of interesting outfits, and ask people to take your photo. There's a lot of great stuff you could do with it.

    Silliman linked to an article about self-portraits the other day. You might want to read it. I think it spoke to some of your questions.

    Take care.

    p.s. Asking for feedback and response isn't pandering to your readers, by the way; but you know that already, I'm sure. (Just reminding you).

    p.p.s. I did a drawing (that I hope you will find funny) in response to Goldsmith's Poetry intro. I sent it to Sharon and she loved it. Sent it to Kasey also but don't know his reaction. It's on my blog (not the dream gazette) — I'd send you the link via email (I hate when people promo their blogs in comments boxes) but I don't have your email, so:

    I like Flarf, by the way—though Conceptual less so, which is where I think it came from.

  3. Anne, for some reason I can't view the flickr forum page… it's private. Are you subscribed to the group? Is that what I need to do?

  4. Iian, the Helsinki fashion shots are swell, although I'm already tired of the trends for gladiator sandals and harem pants

    been there, done that, etc.

    that's what it's like being old…

  5. oh, ho mum, there's Nada doing her thing again. . .

    Just kidding. Actually, this seems to be more your thing than ever, so it's quite exciting.

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