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Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth
August 14, 2011 12:36 PM   Subscribe

Style Like U features an exhaustive video archive of people talking about their clothes and history and what personal style means to them and the power of self transformation.

Ilona Royce Smithkin - "Thank God I'm not young anymore"

Kevin Stewart - "I lived at Danceateria"

Dominique Brown - "I kept falling deeper in love with the 40s"

Michele Savoia - "My father, I used to shine his shoes and put on his pinkie ring."


MilDred Gerestant
- "She helped me put on my facial hair and I felt like I was giving birth to myself as a man"

Ty McBride - I'm a giant Aryan viking, my fashion icon is Tom Of Finland."

Shien Lee - "When you wear a certain style, you enter into a new community"

World Famous *BOB* - "I didn't know a strong, powerful glamorous women until I met a man."

Emily Leonard - "I never felt like I was allowed to like clothes."
posted by The Whelk (32 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
Should I be ashamed that I have no idea who these people are?
posted by jonmc at 12:50 PM on August 14, 2011


Let me know if they've got more of those Mr T videos.
posted by BrotherCaine at 2:33 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Great post - thanks
posted by facetious at 3:34 PM on August 14, 2011


this is just so good: "'It’s all about how you choose to experience yourself…I either trust and love myself, or others will enslave me. I choose my spirit.' The fact that MilDred grew up suicidal because of how ugly she felt in this society is shameful and we really do need to ask ourselves how things got this way and who is controlling these notions of what is attractive?"
posted by facetious at 3:40 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


That video archive is like the encyclopedia of superficial narcissism. People define themselves by the kind of clothes they wear? Really? Like if I one day wake up and decide to wear a Scottish kilt or perhaps a Japanese kimono as some kind of "statement," that would somehow transform me into a completely different person? Yeah, right.

Stupid, childish nonsense if you ask me. Which I know nobody did. Still think it's stupid though, hahaha.
posted by TraumaT at 5:39 PM on August 14, 2011


Why should is be surprising that the way you present yourself to the world has a deep effect on how you think about yourself? Style has always depended on the invention of the self. Think of something as seemingly changeless and restricted as preppy style, a style that wants you to believe that you have to be born into it, and that if you don't have a collection of prep school tshirts left by friends at your Mount Desert summer house then you'll never feel 100% right wearing bluchers without socks. But consider some of the driving forces behind preppy, from Ralph Lauren (né Ralph Lifshitz in the Bronx) to the guys at Street Etiquette or the Japanese photographer behind Take Ivy. As to whether this is mere play-acting I direct you to the title of this post; and if you think it's irredeemably superficial to care about appearances, well, there's another Oscar Wilde quote about that.
posted by villanelles at dawn at 6:28 PM on August 14, 2011 [3 favorites]


Thank you for this, I found it beautiful and inspiring.
posted by Space Kitty at 6:36 PM on August 14, 2011


TraumaT: it's ok, nobody asked any of our opinions, but we share them anyway. Let me ask you this: why do you wear the clothes you wear? Why do you make the choices you make when you decide what clothes to put on in the morning? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it?
posted by facetious at 6:54 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


TraumaT: it's ok, nobody asked any of our opinions, but we share them anyway. Let me ask you this: why do you wear the clothes you wear? Why do you make the choices you make when you decide what clothes to put on in the morning? Do you know? Have you ever thought about it?

I wear clothes that are comfortable and also are not too flashy or revealing. I guess you can call my style discret, I don't like drawing a lot of attention to myself. You would probably call my wardrobe very boring.

I have no interest in fashion or trends, and I rarely notice what other people wear unless it is something that is really begging for my attention. I find the mind/soul/intellet of a person much, much more interesting than the external wrapping.

I have lived for a while now, and in my experience people's clothes tell very little about what kind of person they really are, contrary to what some people seem to believe. Putting on a particular jacket or dress or sweater or whatever, is just that, putting on some clothes. It does not give you a personality, it does not make you more interesting. It's just window dressing, and you are still exactly the same person as you are when you are completely naked.
posted by TraumaT at 7:12 PM on August 14, 2011


So if it's just putting on some clothes, then why not dress ostentatiously? Perhaps because you dress, on purpose, in a way that sends the message that you don't want a lot of attention? And that you're a genuine person who doesn't bother him or herself with superficialities? I'm not trying to screw with you, at all, but I'm suggesting that maybe you're contradicting yourself if you're trying to say that you're different from the people on the linked-to website, because they think it matters what you wear, and you don't. You don't wear ostentatious clothes on purpose, not by accident, at least that's what it sounds like.
posted by facetious at 7:23 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's just window dressing, and you are still exactly the same person as you are when you are completely naked.

Only warmer.
posted by jonmc at 8:40 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


I don't see how you can say that someone's "external wrapping" isn't interesting or doesn't reflect on the person inside. You reveal something about yourself with what you choose to wear, because even if you choose "boring" "not too flashy" clothes, you've still made a choice; that choice comes from the person inside, it doesn't just happen.

Choosing clothing has always been a very fraught activity for me. I grew up trying to win my mother's love by being just like her and dressing like she dresses--pastels, small floral prints, lace, ruffles; to her, this was the proper way to dress and, of course, I would want to dress that way. It's taken me many, many years to find the real me under the false self I constructed to try and please her, and part of that was painstakingly learning what my tastes are in clothes and that I actually have permission to dress according to my taste. So choosing what to wear isn't simple to me at all; it means having the courage to be myself. It means that what I want, what I like, who I am matters.

There's nothing simple or superficial about that.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:20 PM on August 14, 2011 [1 favorite]


Style is how you hold enough. A stylish girl can walk into a charity shop with ten dollars and come out and catch every eye, while others can spend a hundred thousand on all kind of glitz and just look more frumpy and ridiculous with every designer label and diamond. The clothes are just an expression of something that's inside you anyway.
posted by joannemullen at 11:02 PM on August 14, 2011 [2 favorites]


So choosing what to wear isn't simple to me at all; it means having the courage to be myself. It means that what I want, what I like, who I am matters.

There's nothing simple or superficial about that.



What I was was mostly talking about was the idea that wearing different clothes and changing your style/image somehow can transform you as a person. It can't. Clothes can, at most, express what kind of person you would like the outside world to think that you are at any given moment. Perhaps that image is a true reflection of your true self, perhaps it isn't, who the hell knows, it's basically just a costume anyway, at least if you dress up to make a certain impression on people.... Clothes can certainly not give you any kind substance or a personality. I still find people who believe that to be superficial in an almost childlike way, sorry.

And what about people who follow trends and fashions like slaves, and let some designer in Paris or London dictate what to wear this season? What does that tell you about "who they are"? Do these people have the courage to be themself? Hardly.

But hey, perhaps their "personality" really does change a couple of times a year. And that's just damn creepy. No offense, though, hahaha.
posted by TraumaT at 2:54 AM on August 15, 2011


You don't wear ostentatious clothes on purpose, not by accident, at least that's what it sounds like.

I have a job and what I wear is also dictated a bit by the dress code at my workplace... Not gonna tell you what I do for a living though, and it does not matter one bit.

Just like it does not matter one bit to me what kind of clothes people choose to wear to tell me something about themselves. I am not interested in the wrapping and never will be. Open your mouth and talk to me, then I will decide what kind of person I think you are.
posted by TraumaT at 3:08 AM on August 15, 2011


Words can, at most, express what kind of person you would like the outside world to think that you are at any given moment. Perhaps that discourse is a true reflection of your true self, perhaps it isn't, who the hell knows, it's basically just a script anyway, at least if you speak up to make a certain impression on people....
posted by tel3path at 4:52 AM on August 15, 2011


Words can, at most, express what kind of person you would like the outside world to think that you are at any given moment. Perhaps that discourse is a true reflection of your true self, perhaps it isn't, who the hell knows, it's basically just a script anyway, at least if you speak up to make a certain impression on people....

Words come from the inside and mind of a person. If all a person can come up with is parroting someone else, if a script is all they've got, well, then it tells a great deal, doesn't it? Their actions in life tells a great deal too.

Clothes is wrapping and nothing more, and thinking otherwise it like thinking you'll become an astronaut by dressing up like one. Most adults have worked out that it doesn't quite work that way.
posted by TraumaT at 5:11 AM on August 15, 2011


And yet you tell us you wrap yourself in low-key, modest garments because you are modest and low-key. And you are telling us this, and arguing that it shows a level of integrity and insight that the rest of us just don't possess.

I realize that anyone making this argument just naturally finds themselves in a double-bind. But what I'm trying to say is: dressing modestly doesn't make you modest, and asserting (with your words) that you're modest and that your choice of dress is an outward expression of this does more to undermine your argument than support it. Furthermore, nobody has argued that putting on a space suit is sufficient qualification for being an astronaut, that's just a reductio ad absurdium; on the flip side, good luck getting an astronaut to take a spacewalk in a polo and khakis.
posted by tel3path at 5:59 AM on August 15, 2011


But what I'm trying to say is: dressing modestly doesn't make you modest, and asserting (with your words) that you're modest and that your choice of dress is an outward expression of this does more to undermine your argument than support it.

Now you are getting it!

I dress modest (as I mentioned also because of the dress code at work), but after reading my comments in this thread, do you think that I am a very modest person? Does it seem like I am perhaps too modest or shy to make statements that may provoce others, in this case people who believe that their clothes and external image is really important?

I am not too modest or shy to make such statements, am I? (And I have actually never claimed to be modest or low-key as a person, I just don't like to draw a lot of attention to myself, and certainly not through something as superficial as clothes, that kind of audience is the wrong crowd for me, hahaha.)

So there you have it. I am not a very modest person. My clothes does not tell the outside world the "truth" about myself. Nor does other people's clothes or style or external image tell the truth about them.
posted by TraumaT at 6:21 AM on August 15, 2011


Stupid, childish nonsense if you ask me.

What are you wearing?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:48 AM on August 15, 2011


What are you wearing?

Why on earth do you care? I could not care less what you are wearing.
posted by TraumaT at 6:50 AM on August 15, 2011


Why on earth do you care?

Do you feel cared about? But not when someone only relates to your clothes?
Why do they have a dress code at work?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:56 AM on August 15, 2011


Do you feel cared about? Need a hug?

And my work place have a work code, is this a mystery to you? Lot of work places do, you know.
posted by TraumaT at 7:03 AM on August 15, 2011


I think Obscure's assertion is that if clothes are so meaningless, what's the point of a dress code?
posted by rhizome at 7:40 AM on August 15, 2011


I think Obscure's assertion is that if clothes are so meaningless, what's the point of a dress code?

Not my company, not my rules.

And my point of view regarding the importance of clothes/style/image happens to be a minority point of view. Obviously.
posted by TraumaT at 7:48 AM on August 15, 2011


But why is the minority, including your work place (and that of so many others) so deluded in this way? Why can't they see what is obvious to you?
posted by Obscure Reference at 7:50 AM on August 15, 2011


Why don't you just ask the people who set the rules about dress codes and the people who think clothes are some kind of important statements to the world?

Not much point in asking me, is it...

(Oh, and if you replace the word "minority" with "majority" in your post, it makes more sense. Just saying.)
posted by TraumaT at 8:22 AM on August 15, 2011


You're right.
posted by Obscure Reference at 8:47 AM on August 15, 2011


You cannot help but reveal something about yourself with your choice of clothing, just like you cannot help but reveal something about yourself through your gestures, your words, your facial expressions. Even if, for example, you're a total fashion victim and spend all your money to have the latest "in" clothes, this tells people that you're desperate to fit in and be liked and that you aren't confident enough about yourself to show people who you really are (now, that's certainly not the only possible motivation for that behavior, but it's a likely one).

Therapists say that people reveal their personalities (and unresolved "issues") through various "channels" at once and therapists in training are encouraged to pay attention to all channels at once--body language, voice, facial expression, clothing, etc., etc. Even within a company dress code, you have some freedom of choice in what you wear, and I would argue that what you choose is not random.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 9:05 AM on August 15, 2011


Even within a company dress code, you have some freedom of choice in what you wear, and I would argue that what you choose is not random.

But no matter what I choose to wear on a Monday, it would not transform me into a completely different person or give me more (or less) of a personality if I happened to choose something completely different to wear on Tuesday.

Clothes transforms nothing except your appearance and image.
posted by TraumaT at 9:50 AM on August 15, 2011


I don't think anybody's arguing that clothing transforms you, merely that it is significant because it can give clues to the person within the clothes. I would argue that clothing can affect the way you behave and feel about yourself (almost everybody knows how it affects you to wear something you feel makes you look ridiculous), but I would never argue that it transforms you. Your original claim was that clothing is unimportant and only shallow people care about it and that's the claim I'm arguing against.
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 4:46 PM on August 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Your original claim was that clothing is unimportant and only shallow people care about it and that's the claim I'm arguing against.

You are not quite right.

This was my original claim: "That video archive is like the encyclopedia of superficial narcissism. People define themselves by the kind of clothes they wear? Really? Like if I one day wake up and decide to wear a Scottish kilt or perhaps a Japanese kimono as some kind of "statement," that would somehow transform me into a completely different person? Yeah, right.

Stupid, childish nonsense if you ask me. Which I know nobody did. Still think it's stupid though, hahaha."

So it seems like we mostly agree about that transforming thing, don't we?

And it's fine if you think that clothing is important. I still think it is not, I still think people who let a thing like clothes affect the way they see other people and also how they feel about themselves, are shallow. A pretty wrapping does not necessarily mean that what is inside of it is "pretty" too... I would much prefer a pearl wrapped in used candybar paper to a rotten egg wrapped in the finest silk....And if you have to go to the store and buy yourself a bit of Prada or Chanel or Armani self esteem, well, then the fashion industry and advertising agencies sure struck gold when they told you to bend over.

We'll just have to disagree about some things, I guess.
posted by TraumaT at 6:19 AM on August 16, 2011


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