Wednesday, 6 February 2013

Opinion Purge, vol 1 issue 1: High/Low Fashion

I love reading magazines. I love fashion, and I wish I loved fashion journalism. The problem is that it is mostly terrible and nauseating. On good days. One such peeve: "high/low."

I am so tired of seeing starlets or It-girls characterized as "expertly" or "effortlessly" "mixing high and low" fashion, to the point where I tell myself after every issue of Vogue I buy that I'm NEVER BUYING ONE AGAIN. (That only lasts for a few months but a sentiment is a sentiment.)

High/low is, quite frankly, one of the most stupid descriptors of personal style I know of. Some reasons it bugs me so much:

- Only people who can afford the 'high' can properly maintain this supposed personal style. Scoring a few thrifted old designer duds, as I have been so fortunate to do, does not a high-low style make. It is almost as bad as a magazine applauding a person for having outstanding sartorial tastes because they wore (and notionally had the ability to purchase) a head-to-toe straight-from-the-runway look - gag-inducing, to be sure.

- "Low" usually seems to refer to TopShop, H&M, Zara, and the likes. Funny, because the average consumer probably feels lucky if they can go on a spree at these stores, not like they're trolling a bargain basement for bottom-barrel junk. I know I would have to consciously save up if I wanted to order something from TopShop. It's not like these ladies, like Alexa Chung (who seems totally cool but I have serious eye rolls at the write-ups on her), are going through the clearance section of Walmart for a marked-down George acrylic sweater.

- Said "low" retailers take their cues from the "high" side of the fashion spectrum. You are not mixing "high and low," you are mixing "expensive high" and "cheaper high." Same goes for thinking someone is "mastering" the high/low mix because they bought a Rodarte or Jason Wu for Target, or Versace for H&M. Wearing mass-made designer collaborations does not constitute a masterful execution of anything, maybe except for being at that retailer on the launch day. Congrats.

You know what would deserve accolades? Low/low. If you can do that and get your picture in an internationally circulated style mag, then yep, good job. Any other combo (except maybe old/old) doesn't get you too many points in my book.

(Maybe the problem is that celebs get credit when the stylists are doing all the mixing? I don't know.)

If I had to use this formula to describe my style, it's more old-high/old-middle/new-middle/new-low. Or something, but it seems pointless to describe because that's, you know, MOST stuff out there. As in, old designer stuff that somehow makes its way to PEI thrift stores; old Canadian-made mid-range offerings, sturdily constructed and in good-quality fabrics; new investment pieces that are made by local or small, independent companies; and new, low-price basics like Old Navy skinny jeans and cotton tees.

Maybe it's that little bit of Marxist in me that just makes me feel like you cannot possibly be truly stylish if you are also very wealthy - privileged access to all the clothing in the world does not give you better taste, or make you more discerning, or give you 'an eye.' It just gives you more choices than most people get. I feel the same way about houses - being able to buy more, pricier stuff or renovate more or build bigger and better shouldn't get such congratulatory write-ups from home design magazines.

Don't get me wrong, I like a lot of the outfits I see on these ladies I am deriding. Kate Bosworth has some cool boots and Alexa Chung seems totally nice. But this big lauding, back-patting fashion circle jerk about spending lots of money, and then sometimes less money, will hopefully run its course soon.

1 comment:

  1. Definitely agree with lots of what you're saying here. I have to save for topshop too! It's not that "low" to me!


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