Friday, July 05, 2013

Complicated Interest: Style

I have been interested in style my entire life. When I was a teenager, I used to pull the pages out of magazines and stick them on my walls. I felt somehow more 'me' when surrounded by reference and inspiration.

Color, shoes, fashion, pattern, style. Dark, sexy, handsome, pretty, thin, conflicting, well considered, appealing. Things that I thought were cool. People whom I thought were pretty. Musicians. Bands. Oh they all had a place.

I used to pull future concert listings out of the Indie/Artsy Atlanta paper Creative Loafing. Then I would post my ticket and any articles about the band as well. My walls were my story.

Making this space devoted to my interests kept me inspired and maybe sane. It definitely made me feel like I was figuring out who I was and what I liked. It was always difficult to find my voice in my family and in my life. From the outside, we had the typical American life...2 kids, 2 parents. We ate dinner together, we lived in the suburbs, it seemed normal and happy. But I wasn't happy. My mother was always ill. My family did the best it could. But I wasn't happy.

Asserting some control over my style and activities finally made me happier, or at least more fulfilled.

And oh did we show it during that era of post Punk, pre Goth. Our uniform was black tights, mary janes, plaid skirts, black sweaters, thigh highs, baby doll dresses, cat eyes, asymetrical bobs, Ghost World-ish I guess.

Right now I really love JCrew, Madewell and classic American sportswear. I like color. A lot. This has been a big shift for me as my go to tended to be...black. Pattern and I still don't understand each other. But I am determined to play with pattern matching. There is inspiration on my wall!

I have always appreciated well made, well tailored, beautiful things. Art pieces if you will. Especially bags and shoes. I firmly believe that you can wear jeans and a tshirt, but have great hair, shoes and a bag and be well put together.

In my 20s, I liked to shop for clothes on the weekends but it often left me feeling unhappy. Whatever missing piece that was looking for something couldn't find it in the shops. The newness only lasted so long and I got into debt. And out of debt. Twice.

Therapy helped me see my unhappiness for what it was. I uncovered the buried family stuff and gave it light. Meditation is helping me see that I suffer, like everyone else, from the human condition.

The question was and is, how to have long lasting and beautiful style in a sustainable way? Also how do I find clothing that fits well and brings me joy? What will continue to make me happy after the newness has worn off? How can I do this and also be healthy financially?

All of these questions led me to start making my own clothing. This made me a little happier. The hard part there was altering commercial patterns to fit. When one has an ample bust and hips one must change patterns. I find altering patterns to be very confusing.

A pivotal conversation was had one day with someone who has influenced a few of my choices, Gwen Lutz. Gwen went to Apparel Arts and studied pattern drafting. She also completed AIDS/LifeCycle last year. She designs patterns for Nooworks clothing and styles bicycle fashion shows.

Gwen talked to me about slopers and moulage and I had no idea WTF she was talking about. I was intrigued. I explored Apparel Arts and deciding to give it a shot. And 6 months later I can make skirts that fit me perfectly. JOY.

Another problem that I was trying to solve is shoes. I have wide feet and discerning tastes. I can tell you that there is no venn diagram where these two factors overlap.

I was influenced by this book to look for locally hand made shoes, but was coming up with high dollar signs for people who make custom shoes in SF. Enter Gwen again, she had gone to Al's Attire for her wedding shoes. Al's is very reasonable.

The process of working with Al and Sarah and Kelly was awesome. Custom hand made doesn't always turn out perfectly the first time, and this was the case. However, I am very pleased with the final product.

These shoes are the culmination of a lot well considered ideas:
• they sustain a local artisan/company here in SF/North Beach
• they are very well made and should last me for many many years
• they are repairable
• they fit me perfectly and are very comfortable
• they are beautiful and stylish
• I got to choose every detail

Pin this one up on the wall, babycakes. This is how it is done.

New shoes day! #alsattire #custom #local #handmadeThe label says: Alice Stribling @alsattire #handmade
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