Fashion is fantasy

Lisa waving items

You can't take me anywhere!

Yesterday I spent some time flipping through the September 2009 issue of Vogue, which I found in the free magazine rack at the public library. Its 800 pages of ads and editorial content felt irrelevant to my life, more so because this week I’d actually “gone out” twice. Generally, I schlump around the house in a hoodie and stretchy jeans (and soft-cup bra), but last Wednesday and Thursday evening, I’d dressed up for our IWL performances (see photo at right). So instead of reading Vogue thinking, “All this is useless to me because I never go out,” I thought, “Even when I do go out, I can’t wear these clothes.” Fancy shoes are dangerous when I may have to walk a mile or two to get to my destination; fancy clothing is obnoxious when sharing a train with commuters.

The outfits that attract my eye to glossy pages seem, in real life, ill-suited to anything but standing and being looked at. (And speaking as an artist, if someone’s just going to stand around for me to look at, I’d rather they wear no clothes at all!) Some people do attend the kinds of events where it’s appropriate (and possible) to float in on a cloud of silk chiffon embroidered with crystals, or sashay up the stairs in a sculptural miracle of pleating and drapery. But I probably never will, and even if I do, I’ll need to wear something that I can’t destroy by accidentally stepping on the hem or dabbing it with oily fingers, something I can take to the normal dry cleaners and hang up in my regular closet when I’m done. And don’t even get me started on hair, makeup, and undergarments. I still enjoy my silly magazines, but it’s best if I think of fashion photos as pure fantasy, not as advice on what real people should wear.

Watercolor painting, Bubble Dancer

Bubble Dancer, painted after reading the 800-page September '09 issue of Vogue