Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Confessions of a Fashion Columnist

I wouldn’t describe myself as high-maintenance. I wouldn’t say I’m low-maintenance, exactly. I do, in fact, invest an extensive amount of time getting ready in the morning, but that’s mostly because I’m not very talented with a blow dryer. But I’m definitely not high-maintenance in a straighten-my-hair-daily or wear-lip liner-before-I’m-30 kind of way.

Just in case you’re under the impression that I’m one of those girls who’s always perfectly assembled, let me dispel your assumptions. I feel it’s time for me to come clean about who I really am — to clean out my sartorial closet. Consider these the confessions of a fashion columnist.

1. I dress myself more frequently from my laundry basket and my bedroom floor than out of my closet. I’ve been known to pull something out, ignore its desperate plea for washing, attempt to smooth out the wrinkles and put it on regardless.

2. The result is that I wear the same thing. All the time. Variety might be the spice of life, but I prefer that my wardrobe be repetitive and full of stand-bys. I’m typically found in some kind of black pant/vest/scarf combo with a few pencil skirts and racerback tanks thrown in. But damn it, I pull them off well.

3. My ultimate secret-life wish? To be stopped by a street style photographer and have my picture taken. Preferably Scott Schuman of The Sartorialist — a must-read website if you’re in search of fashion inspiration.

4. I get unreasonably angry with people who obstruct the view of my reflection in freshly cleaned windows as I walk down the street. I have a near-constant need to double-check that I don’t have anything glaringly wrong with my appearance. I have a friend who once walked from Forbes Hall all the way to the Cathedral with his fly down. I openly wept for him. This is what constitutes my worst fears.

5. I consider showering to be the world’s most burdensome task. I’ll avoid washing my hair for days in favor of dousing my grease-laden roots with baby powder and hair spray, hoping I don’t look like the lazy mess that I really am.

6. My mother would kill me for this since it violates her No.1 fashion commandment but ... I buy cheap shoes, regularly. I have an issue with spending large sums of money all at once, even though I know in the end it’ll be a good investment. My bad habit further perplexes me as I grow increasingly angry with myself when said cheap shoes fall apart after three wears.

7. If you do happen to spot me in something pulled together with more effort than usual, I am most likely either attempting to impress someone or trying to avoid someone. Designer Isaac Mizrahi once said the secret to good style is to always “dress like you have a crush on someone.” I’ve also found that dressing like a slob — in accordance with Murphy’s Law — is a sure-fire way to run into someone you don’t want to see, so I consider fashion an ex-fling repellent. Balk away, but it actually works.

8. I despise shopping with other people. Sure, browsing through the mall with a pal is fun, but when I need to make some wardrobe additions, I have to be by myself. Trust me, it’s for the better. No one needs witness me amid an aggressive hunt for a new winter coat.

I can spend hours digging through stores and walk out with nothing. I have to look at every single thing, circling through the store multiple times. Once to look at and touch everything, again to choose articles that most stick out to me and once more to pile up all the stuff I know I won’t buy but want to try on anyway. I consider it tedious yet necessary work — as I imagine accounting would be (as if I ever would go near such a fashion-less activity.)

9. I’m quite the style schizophrenic. My closet is equal parts Lilly Pulitzer-preppy (there’s a big sample sale near my house every year. Something about scoring a ridiculous pink-printed sundress 70 percent off really speaks to me) and depressingly monochromatic. Yet, I have a tendency to wear all black, head to toe, when I can’t think of anything more creative.

10. I spend ridiculously long periods of time staring blankly into my closet. Getting dressed for nights out is especially difficult. I’ve been known to not pull myself together until 11:30 p.m., when my roommates are angrily yanking me out the door while I am racing to smudge NARS eyeshadow onto my lids.

Yes, I care a lot about the fashion industry — probably too much at times. No, I don’t schlep around in sweatpants. But at the beginning of the day, I have just as hard a time getting dressed as anyone else.

Well, I certainly feel better. I have been waiting to air out the fashion skeletons in my closet since the last time I did laundry. And on that note ...

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