In fashion, style is defined as “a prevailing mode of expression.” As a genre, style is “a loose set of criteria for a category or composition.” In botany, style is defined as “a stalk structure in female flower parts.” How we, as female stalk structures, define style, is one of the most important factors in the development of personality and social relations, in particular, physical attractiveness. Humans are acutely sensitive to variations in physical appearance. So – is who we are – defined by how we are styled? Well, at least at first glance!
We all want to look like a million bucks, but are hard pressed to actually get far enough past the sticker shock of designer duds to shell out the beaucoup bucks for pieces that will be out-of vogue just as fast as they were in Vogue. A lot of our favorite celebs and style icons mix high-end statement pieces with lower-priced items. While this is a great idea and gives any look an air of luxury, it’s hard for us mere mortals to mix in a different thousand dollar piece to every one of our outfits. That doesn’t mean we can’t partake in this way of dress ourselves. The trick is to look for high-end designer staples that can be mix-n-matched with a plethora of different ensembles and will stay in fashion for years to come. But where do we find these little tastes of filet mignon on a happy meal budget?
I have exquisite style for which I’ve been stopped on the street. It is not for the LV’s on my purse, or the distinctive, interlocking C’s that scream haute couture. Many a look in the “fast fashion” world, is a recreation of designer looks for less. But none of us want to appear as if we look like less. To my horror, I watch the highly-paid “trend-spotters” return from “daunting” international shopping trips and tear through their fresh kill. Off-the-runway Cavalli, still in garment bag Versace, kicked to the curb like Nana’s gravy-stained moo-moo. The goddess-worthy goods are torn, tattered and pulled bit by bitter bit for their buttons and embellishments; their fabric swatches and stitching ripped at the seams; their lifeless limbs left on the workroom floor, used for their sole purpose of being knocked off and then thrown asunder. Seeing this makes me think of diamonds as CZ’s and their value depreciates substantially.
There are however, a few survivors; diamonds in the rough. With a little TLC, these illustrious soldiers rise again, the way Lisa in her little kerchief, sewed Corduroy the bear a button. Sometimes that is all a bruised Lacroix needs. I have personally taught myself how to stitch a funky patch over a tear on a Dolce and Gabana jacket – and therein lies its uniqueness. I have scoured my ‘hood and found reasonably priced tailors that can add a corset back to a torn tunic, affix a weary sweater bottom, darn the darndest of socks. I have made them all one-of-a-kind!
Sample sales are the perfect way to find these designer items for less. Vintage is also a great way to go, but can be a bit steep since Mary-Kate made boho chic and 80’s acid-wash has been hipster-fied. I have also, foraged my mother’s closets, ranting and raving about her selfish need to purge rather then think ahead to the style needs of her as-of-yet unborn daughter.
Where have I hit the real mother-load? Look no further, than the depths of the poorly-lit, oft-stinky racks of local neighborhood family thrifts, Salvation Armies, Mom and Pop don’t know any better shops.
Where else would timeless Yves Saint Laurent and Givenchy blazers appear at a mere $3.99. An authentic poodle skirt, an over-embellished hot pink evening gown, a kimono, RUN DMC tee and a pair of Miu Miu slides all for under $20! Heck, I’d wear ‘em all together if the mood so strikes. And with the cost of a triple dry-cleaning; you’re still coming out in the black.
It’s these off the beaten path places that you can find the means to pair a newly acquired hobo bag with tattered jeans, a basic turtleneck, a Forever 21 uber-glitzy accessory with grandma’s costume broach pinned to a cloche hat. Feeling brave? How about belting a faux fur vest?…the possibilities are endless!
The best part of it all is not the kooky “how does she pull that off” look I get from passersby on the street, or the fashion students asking to photograph me for a thesis on the history of style. It is the exhilarating feeling that I somehow win. I beat the fashionistas with haughty, limitless black cards. Aloof with chicanery, I stand as tall as a female stalk structure, in my very own style, I am a flower above all else. I found the finds, I dug for buried treasure. I am a designer pirate and my booty is written all over, well, my booty!