Well, hello. Hopefully you still recognise me, I know it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. Don’t worry, I’m not one of those people egotistical to apologise for not having blogged recently because, let’s face it…I’m sure you’ve survived without me.
Shockingly, this week I’m going to be doing a bit of philosophising (though it’s definitely going to be like…philosophy lite) rather than being all snarky. Or at least, I’m going to try. A realisation hit me this week, and that realisation was just how heavily my fashion sense (vom at that phrase, makes me sound like I think I’m Spider-Man, except…fashion-y) relies on what I’m reading, watching on TV or listening to. Before I get too much into it, I thought a few examples would probably help.
After my trip to the Louboutin retrospective at the Design Museum I found myself lusting after shoes like these Nelly spike heels. Sadly, they don’t do them in my size…But my new obsession went far beyond an interest in these seemingly Rollerboy influenced shoes, I started noticing the prevalance of spikes and studs everywhere. I’m not going to use the words ‘punk chic’, because aside from being a complete oxymoron the very phrase makes me want to vomit on a Dwarves record. The Ragged Priest, for example, have a ton of spiked denim jackets and stuff in Topman that I’d never really noticed until after my visit to the Design Museum. All of a sudden, I found myself wanting everything they do.
Example number two. After reading the sublime The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, my love for baseball was rekindled. I’ve recently spent some time in diners nursing a drink and watching ball games (I’ve also clearly been reading too much Bukowski), and the little number pictured above also made its way into my wardrobe. Despite having rarely seen the St Louis Cardinals play, the novel lent them a mythic quality that stuck with me long after reading it. While I was buying the cap I wondered whether or not purchasing (what amounted to) a replica of Henry Skrimshander’s cap was ridiculous, I ended up deciding that it was no different to buying any other movie or TV merchandise. I also thought ‘whatever, I already know I’m ridiculous.’
If you don’t know who the dude is above I’m not angry, but I am disappointed. As well as making lovely jangly acoustic music as City and Colour, Dallas Green (yes, he does have the coolest name ever) also helped to completely reform the post-hardcore scene in the early 2000s as a member of Alexisonfire, one of the most diverse, technical and intense bands to come out of the last century. Shamefully, I’d sort of forgotten about them (or rather iTunes shuffle had, since that’s pretty much exclusively how I listen to music) until pretty recently and I now have them on repeat almost constantly. It’s no secret that DG is one of my idols, and I recently picked up the shirt-jacket pictured on the right above fully aware that it was ‘very Dallas’. But here’s where things get interesting – at the time I bought my St Louis Cardinals cap, it hadn’t registered that Young Cardinals is the name of one of Alexisonfire’s albums. Hmm.
The fact that I chose to buy a baseball cap belonging to a team from somewhere I’ve never even been at the same time that I was getting back into Alexisonfire in a big way really suggests to me a subconscious inclination to tie as much of this stuff together as possible. I’ve always had a pretty versatile style (from scene kid to preppy Hamptons dude), and it’s always been very much dependent on my surroundings. However, the case of the Cardinals cap (which sounds like an episode of Scooby Doo) suggests to me that there’s something much deeper going on when people decide what clothing to wear.
In the past, it has generally been assumed that people dress as Goths, preps etc for one of two reasons – 1) to fit in with their peers or 2) to express themselves (c.f. parents reassuring themselves ‘it’s just a phase, they’ll grow out of it). If my hypothesis is correct, then neither of these statements alone are evidence enough for people dressing in a certain way. Rather, the very content of certain types of music, film and television shows has the power to influence actions. Potentially much, much more power than the advertisements that break them up. The insinuations that accompany this idea are pretty dangerous – if media has this power over people, does this mean that video games and rap music really are responsible for increases in high school violence and young men acting in a degrading way towards women. Was The Daily Mail right all along?