Kuro

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“Black is modest and arrogant at the same time. Black is lazy and easy – but mysterious. But above all black says this: ‘I don’t bother you – don’t bother me’.” – Yohji Yamamoto

I’ve read a lot of interviews with Yamamoto-san and there are lots of famous quotes by him about fashion and style. His quote about the color black is one of his most famous. There is another I read somewhere about him always looking for a new kind of black. In looking at my own wardrobe, I can see why he’d look for it – there are many shades and hues of black.

I was going to write a different title to this post, but after ironing out my new clothes last night, kuro, which means black in Japanese, was the only one that fits.

Last week I mentioned I got a couple packages and in them were my first items by Yohji Yamamoto. I can’t afford his newest creations and can’t even really afford anything on sale by him either, but some not-as-expensive vintage items and used items are in my affordable range.

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One of the items is the shirt I’m wearing today. While ironing the shirt last night I noticed all the details that went in to making it. The collar has elongated points for dramatic flair, but also a slightly more than usual curve at the back to lay perfectly flat when curved around the neck. That slight camel-hump kind of curve is something I’ve not seen in any other collared shirt I have and when I compared it to others, I was thoroughly impressed with how well it lay when worn. Although the buttons are large for this kind of shirt and there’s a larger than usual gap in between them, the shirt still lays flat and doesn’t bulge out in between buttons. The slits at the side ended up being much higher on me than I thought when ironing the shirt, but I like the difference when looking at it from the side while wearing it today. I love the detailed darts on the back of the shirt and the slightly puffed front pleats below the shoulders. Despite the darts, which tend to make a shirt constrict more, there’s enough pleating to still make moving around in the shirt completely comfortable. There’s also the color. In some light, the black could take on a sheen, but then also look matte. It’s a perfect black and I’ve never had any shirt look this black before, which makes it very beautiful and exciting to wear. It makes me think this is what the title to one of my favorite anime means: Darker Than Black. This is that color. Yamamoto-san knows his black. The fabric is also nice. It’s a blend of linen and rayon, which makes it slightly stiff, but still rather soft and very smooth to the touch. It does wrinkle, but those wrinkles look like added details.

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I’m sure Yohji-sama would say – it’s just a shirt! – and he would be right. It is just a shirt, but I’ve never had a shirt this nice before made by a designer I admire and that makes it extra special to me. I appreciate all the detail and work that went in to making it. I already want to wear it with different bottoms for the rest of the week. I want to own more clothing with this attention to detail and artistry. This is what makes clothes fun to wear and makes me want to preserve them and keep them forever.

Many fashion blogs I follow focus on sustainable and ethical clothing choices. Some of them might even be offended that I referred to them as fashion blogs – I think the term is influencer sites? I guess because they influence lots of other people to buy and wear the same clothes from the same sustainable and ethical clothing manufacturers or whatever it is they are promoting. I still don’t get it, but that’s the only way I can explain it. If there’s a better definition then feel free to correct me. I don’t wish to offend any of them.

But that’s just it – these influencer bloggers all wear the same clothes, just in slightly different ways. Reading one or two of them is fine, but after that… you’ve seen them all. I was very much on that train for a while, wanting to wear the same things they did because they promoted sustainable and ethical means, etc… There’s nothing wrong with that – other than I got bored because I’m tired of seeing the same thing so many times.  I found it kinda ironic that the same thing happens with fast fashion as well, but those clothes get rotated out faster because they fall apart more easily or because something new is in. I do follow some influencer sites, but I’m actually more interested in the other tidbits they have to say. I’m more interested in them as people and find them interesting. Sure, I’ll end up finding out about some good deals on Everlane or Garmentory or wherever as a result, which is always a perk. Finding good staples is never a bad thing.

But now, I think I’ve found my way of being a more conscientious shopper. I’m more interested in the designers/ clothing brands I enjoy and realized there’s a lot of it available that’s used or pre-owned. These are limited items that have been worn or tucked away and need a new home and I’m searching for them to add to my home. Sure, I could buy some more wide-leg pants from Everlane, but I could also wait until I find a pair of wide-leg pants from Yohji Yamamoto, 45rpm, Kapital, Comme de Garcons, or other designers that may be in the same price range if I look enough through ebay, poshmark, or discounters.

There’s an excitement to owning something you really desire from a designer or artist. It’s about appreciating their craft. While I applaud Everlane and companies like it that work towards ethical fashion, I still don’t feel the clothing is as precious to me because they will still make many more runs of the same clothes over and over again. Sometimes the styles are phased out, but there isn’t as much novelty to them, especially since so many other companies like them are doing the same thing. Also, I don’t feel there is the same sort of attention to detail with the clothing. This is not to downplay the importance of these companies. I’d rather see people buy from them than Walmart or Target or other fast fashion types of places. However, why would I want to spend $200 on pants from Elizabeth Suzann that I know every other blogger I follow wears when I could buy some vintage Y’s pants around the same price instead that make me really happy?

This isn’t to say I’m not going to buy from those companies anymore. I prefer to put more effort now into waiting and finding the clothes from the designers I desire and if I need items to supplement that wardrobe, then yes, I’ll happily spend the money on more ethical clothing retailers.

Who knew one shirt could create such a long, rambling blog post? This is probably two or three different topics’ worth of information, but I’m not too good at being succinct.

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Shirt: Y’s by Yohji Yamamoto. Jeans: Grana. Shoes: Nisolo.

Butchering language in fashion

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I love seeing photos of middle-aged/elderly people amazingly dressed. The couples kill me.

However, looking through pinterest makes me want to bitch-slap half of the people who post on there. More often than not I see the description “Advanced Style” associated with these photos. WTF does that even mean? Just because a person is older doesn’t mean they are “advanced” in the way they dress. I really hate and cringe at seeing “advanced” being equated to the word “old” as a result.

All images found on Pinterest.

Lounge wear conundrum

Gretchen brought up an interesting point in her outfit post today. Her style choices have made her more aware of how she may stand out to everyone else around her who wears workout clothes or the typical tee/jeans combination.

I had to admit that as someone whose uniform was very much a tee with jeans I knew that if I saw someone dressed as her around my neighborhood I would take notice as well. There’s nothing wrong with wearing a tee and jeans, but as I’ve expressed here before – I’m kinda tired of that same old look and actually want to put some more effort into how I look.

All of this got me thinking about how casually most people in the suburbs dress nowadays. It’s definitely a bit different in the city, where many people dress up more. Why is that? Why is it ok to dress up more in the city or is it just the fact that there are so many more people who live in the city, thus there are more types of personalities and within the throngs there’s bound to be several handfuls who deliberately make an effort to dress up? Is it due to the fact that the more eyes there are on the street then the more one feels the need to dress up as opposed to just throwing on a pair of leggings and a tee to go shoe shopping at the local suburban mall? Do people in the suburbs feel more complacent about their lives and therefore don’t feel the need to dress up or put a little more effort into dressing when they go out? Is it maybe due to the fact that more families live out in the suburbs and parents who have little time to deal with all their children’s activities mean they care less about how they look due to their busy schedules? (And to that extent – how many times have they used said business as an excuse for not bothering to dress a little nicer?) I definitely don’t have the answer to these at all. I’m not a parent, but I  do wonder how some of my friends with kids would respond.  I know that’s not the case for all parents though. There are several who do make an effort to be more presentable – the amount of fashion/influencer blogs I follow says as much – not just for the sake of people possibly looking at them, but because they want to feel better about themselves in general, which is really no different than my own reasons.

So does dressing up a bit more in the suburbs make one more…. pretentious/subversive/different? At any given moment in any store out in the suburbs here, I know I’ll run into women wearing athleisure clothing – leggings or yoga pants with tees and sports shoes or sandals. Then there’s the tee/jeans wearers (like myself) and…. that’s really it. The only other time is when you see someone wearing clothes for work, which might entail a suit or nice dress shirt with dress pants/ skirt. And here is where the I get to the point of the topic: is it really ok to wear lounge wear out in public? When I mean lounge wear, I mean the yoga pants, leggings, old jeans that 99% of the time rarely see the outside of the house, the stained or ripped or old tees that are too soft to get rid of, etc….  Also, have most people in the suburbs resigned themselves to more casual codes of dress that’s seen everywhere out of complacency, practicality, or because they don’t want to stand out too much since everyone around them is dressed similarly?

 

 

Routine colors

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I seem to have a thing for wearing black and blue together. The bright shoes really throw this off, but I’m ok with that.

Shirt: Everlane – drop shoulder tee. Pants: Grana. Shoes: Lems Primal 2. Necklace: Swarovski – gift.

So looking through my pinterest over the past week makes me laugh a bit. I’ve gone from Eileen Fisher lagenlook chic to Rick Owens, Comme de Garcons, and lots of Yohji Yamamoto. Affordable (to a degree) lagenlook to…. high end fashion avant-guard that’s waaaaay out of my range. Yet I’m still coveting a lot of it and have even found some of it for prices that I could afford if I only buy one item – and then save another 6 months for the next one. I’ve always liked Comme de Garcons just because the designs were always so wildly amusing and the silhouettes are totally different from most other designers. If I had to choose one designer though whose clothes could be the only ones I’d ever wear for the rest of my life (assuming money isn’t an issue – more a mandate: wear only 1 designer’s clothes) then it’d definitely have to be Yohji Yamamoto. I’ll even pare that down further since he’s got two lines: Y’s and Y-3 collaboration with Adidas. Out of the two, I’d take the high-end Y’s range, but if allowed then sure, give me both.

I love his tailoring and the “unstructured” structured look of his clothes. The asymmetrical lines of skirts and billowing sleeves are completely beautiful to me. Also, he tends to dress women in a much more masculine manner and I’ve always been a fan of that look on women.

To the very few people who may (or may not) read this blog: if you could only wear the clothing of one designer for the rest of your life, who would it be?

Lagenlook

So a while back I mentioned how I liked the over-sized look. Well, it’s got a name – lagenlook. I learned something new! It’s apparently a German term and means “layering look”. From what I gleaned doing a basic cursory search on it lagenlook is about layering clothes that are loose and appear over-sized. Some might associate the look with peasant style (think medieval times), areas of boho style, Jane Austen style, mori style (forest girls in Japan), etc… It can be very frilly with lots of ruffles. But it doesn’t have to be frilly. Eileen Fisher is the best example of a put-together, chic lagenlook.

I really love this. It definitely wouldn’t work easily in really hot weather, but when cooler weather comes around I definitely want to work on making this look happen.

Half tucked

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Rolling up the jeans and half tucking in the shirt made me feel a little more put together even though I felt craptastic today. I was perfectly comfortable and thought I looked a little better.

Shirt: Banana Republic – old. Jeans: Grana – no longer available. Shoes: MaddenGirl from DSW. Necklace: Swarovski -gift. Cardigan: Banana Republic – old.

Last night I looked through some photography books I bought a long time ago. They were from people who I’d followed on Flickr and admired their work. I used to take a lot of photos and kinda miss it. When I got back into anime and started reading manga photography was pushed to the back burner. I used to take hundreds of photos a month of everything around me and even published my own book of photos about breakfast when taking breakfast photos was a huge thing then. It still is, but it’s now all on Instagram. It’s amazing how phone cameras changed the photography world, for better and worse.

I took some photos around the house today. I was never a professional by any means so the disconnect between what I think I’m shooting and what ends up on the screen is still rather great.

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Plants I bought yesterday.
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Our crumbly dining room table.

The photography books I looked through were about a journey two photographers took in mainland China. The people in the photos had very simple lives with no technology and barely any electricity. It made me think of how odd it was that my life was just as simple, but it felt hurried and rushed – like I’m always waiting for the next Big Thing to happen even though there isn’t anything. I have every convenience around me, but I take it for granted and even resent it at times. But it’s not the fault of the technology – it’s me. I’m the one who’s bored and needs to make better use of my time.

So I’m going to try to take some more photos. Maybe I’ll even do a series to give myself a project of sorts.