Well, summer arrived here in Chicago…with a vengeance. My fiancee is holding me responsible for the past week’s 95 degree heat wave due to all my complaining and whining when it was cold. Amazing that my complaining and whining brought summer, but somehow failed to get the curtains we bought a week ago hung…But I digress.
With the heat wave comes a whole slew of fun summer dresses, floral prints, and an array of flip flops. And I get to stare at it all behind my sunglasses (that are less conspicuous than usual because the sun is actually out and blazing!) walking the streets of Chicago on my lunch hour.
Looking at everyone’s new summer gear got me thinking about the economy – I know, we are sick of reading about the economy, so I’ll move on quickly to my point. There are a lot of fashion articles and posts out there talking about how people are either cutting back on their designer digs, or hiding the fact that they are wearing designer clothes. Cutting back I can understand. However, I am curious about those who hide their high end purchases.
My mother and sister threw my financee and I a couple’s shower last weekend. Apparently it’s the newest thing – forcing your male friends to partake in wedding activities. Unlike most showers, there were no games, just lots of food and beer. And almost every woman showed up in a cotton dress and flip flops (I was sporting one myself sans flip flops).
The thing about cotton dresses is that they are comfortable and you cannot tell what people spend on them (assuming the name brand isn’t on it somewhere), which makes me wonder whether this isn’t true of most clothing.
The major difference I notice between designer clothing and more affordable options, is style. Designer clothing influences mainstream trends.
In one of the studies I read on popular culture, the main difference noted between high culture and mainstream culture is that mainstream culture is usually a watered down, mass produced version of what high culture exemplified six months or so prior.
In reviewing my general thesis that what we wear can be a form of artistic expression, it seems unfortunate that the most well known artists/fashion designers only get worn by the fortunate few. And then again, that also seems to be part of the definition of art, since anything mass produced looses its artistic integrity.
Of course, then comes the next question – who determined that Versace is anymore of an artist than a co-worker of my mother’s who makes jewelry and sells it online?
My answer – Influence. My mother’s co-worker isn’t exactly influencing or challenging how people see and wear jewelry. She’s most likely as reactionary as the stuff that is mass produced.
On the other hand, the non-corporate stuff often sold online, is not as mass produced as the designer stuff.
You might not influence the next runway show, or the next line of Banana Republic clothing – but with a little internet or thrift store savvy, you can wear unique and artistic pieces that stand out more than having Juicy Couture across your back end. You may even influence a whole crop of fashion watchers hiding behind sunglasses on city streets.