- Blazer – J Crew
- Floral Blouse – Maurices
- Skirt – Banana Republic
- Purple Tights – BR Outlet
- Black Shoes – DSW
- Bangle- gift from sister M.
First for today’s outfit, it all felt like a little much to me – too much going on in one outfit, yet there were parts of it I really liked: the mix of florals and stripes, the blazer with my grey pencil skirt, purple tights with my black pumps. I’m just not crazy about seeing it all mashed together. I do like that this outfit seems to make up for my failure to participate in blazer week and my limited contribution to tights week and is undoubtedly a comfort-zone stretching use of floral. Guess I’m making up for lost time with this one!
Now, for my thoughts on the very interesting discussion S. started the other day
. I am very interested in S.’s post and especially in all the thought-provoking comments, particularly because I am currently engrossed in reading and writing about postmodern appropriation, camp, kitsch, the cultural, political, and symbolic significance of clothing/costume, the performance of gender and race/ethnicity, gender and ethnic drag, and cultural hybridity — all which seem to play some role in this discussion.
When I hear the term appropriation, I can’t help but think of specifically post-modern appropriation – of the variety practiced by critical artists beginning in the late 1970s. Thus, I tend to think of appropriation as self-conscious and always at least potentially critical and subversive. These postmodern artists also point out that everything is an appropriation, there is no pure original. This idea was raised be several commenters. How do we determine what culture is begin appropriated and what is appropriation and what isn’t?
I think this also relates to the idea of cultural hybridity. There is such overlap in cultures and there has been such a long history of exchange – especially when it comes to clothing - it becomes very difficult to claim an authentic or original source for anything. So where do we draw the line? One line suggested in the discussion taking place int the comments was the issue of power dynamics, colonization, etc. – but this seems sticky as well. First, power relations have shifted so much in history and I’m not convinced that their can’t be something subversive about the appropriation of the colonized… I’m still chewing on this.
One thing I found very interesting that was suggested by several readers and by S., is this idea of costume/kitsch as the litmus test for appropriate appropriation – in other words many of you seemed to feel that if the appropriation doesn’t seem costumey or kitschy then it’s ok to wear something associated with another culture. My fist question is again, how do we define this? How do we judge kitsch vs. authentic? But, further does wearing something made by a people of a certain culture make it less offensive or more intellectual, etc than wearing something purchased at urban outfitters? Many cultures make objects specifically for tourist consumption so tourists can feel authentic.
In terms of subtle vs. costumy, I think costume, kitsch, camp, and drag all have the potential for subversion and criticality that the subtle appropriation lacks. I raised this in my discussion of drag vs. a uniform and I think this idea of the self conscious performitive use of clothing should apply to items drawn from other cultures.
Ok, this is getting ridiculously long and I’m not sure where I am going with it anymore! So, I will open it back up to you…. How do you make the distinction between costume and not costume? Is costume necessarily offensive or can it be more political and critical in practice? Is all clothing some form of appropriation anyway?