today’s ensemble: style vs. taste, merged entities, seersucker

Hello friends,

You might think that I would be tired already of writing about

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… but really, I’m not. I had to get dressed again today, too. I would like to remind my more literarily-oriented readers, who may be tiring of this “thread” (ha!), that the two disciplines of dressing and poetry have ever so much in common.

Kennedy Fraser writes, in The Fashionable Mind:

Style is rarely glimpsed in times like these, which at best encourage its humble relative, good taste. [Open just about any poetry magazine and see for yourself.] While style and taste have been known to intermingle in the past [I would consider the poetry of Edwin Denby to slot in nicely here.], the currently widening gap between them reminds us once more of their fundamental enmity [right?]. The world of the merely tasteful – a trim edifice of bourgeois conformities, with narrow slots to be filled and straight lines to be toed – is bound to barricade itself, in the end, against style, which is individual, aristocratic, and reckless [I think you can guess what parallel I might draw in the world of letters here, except that I do object to the word “aristocratic.” Sometimes I just wish I could edit books that are already published.]. Taste concerns itself with broad, lifetime progress, and never makes mistakes; style moves by fits and starts and is occasionally glorious. Style differs from elegance, too, yet they often keep company, since elegance is generally regarded as a prime object in the quest for style. But elegance is static and hermetic [shall we say… Rilke?], and the moments of its attainment in a life of style are like so many cathedrals along the route of a comprehensive cultural tour. Style requires allegiance to a creed whose shifting nature makes it all the more demanding. But then style is more rewarding than the ways of elegance or taste, and it is surely closer to an art.

Or… if I may use the term loosely (sorry, Ben): a poetics. Taste is modernist: style is avant-garde (thanks to Rob for a related insight). Style (we all know this) emerges without regard to class or status (and as such is democratic, not aristocratic: just take a look around you on any vehicle of public transportation); taste and elegance assume at least some kind of status quo. I am not interested in elegance at all. In fact, it makes me a little sick. I don’t object to a modicum, a smidgeon really, of taste, just to keep society from collapsing altogether. Style, on the other hand, is paramount.

Speaking of Paramount, I took my students to The Museum of the Moving Image today. Here are some of the entities I merged with there:

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Two of the style icons pictured above I long ago adopted as my personal compasses. Can you guess which ones?

Today’s ensemble features a breezy (it’s 87 degrees outside and muggy) bias cut seersucker skirt whose deep pink and periwinkle stripes combine to make a fine lavender. Note the semi-elliptical insets at either side and the oversized patch pockets. The tank top is a neat little bit of self-promo: that’s the cover of Folly. Slightly puffed sleeves on the midriff cardigan help protect against ubiquitous air-conditioning. Shoes by… Harley Davidson!

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Since I seem mostly to choose photos in which my eyes are downcast (what’s that about, I wonder?) I leave you today with something a bit more confrontational:

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2 thoughts on “today’s ensemble: style vs. taste, merged entities, seersucker

  1. Lucas! I wish I had one to send you. I don't have any transfers now, but if I get some more I can make you one (easily done with an inkjet printer). What size do you wear?

    I can't promise to do it instantly or even in the near future (I'm terrible at keeping up with stuff like this), but let me know just in case. Anyway it's an excuse to get more transfers and make more t-shirts.

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