Wednesday, April 11, 2012

[Glamour Guest Post] Dressing Your Worst - The Dark Side of Glamour

Want to be part of the glamour discussion? Once a week, I have a guest post spot for people from all magic-y/gender-y/sexual orientation/personal glamour orientation walks of life to talk about what glamour means to you both mundanely and magically. Any spellwork or personal revelations are welcome! Essays should be between 500-1000 words and be sure to include a brief bio about yourself and any links (blog, Etsy shop, etc) that you would like included.

Send it to me in the body of your email with the subject "Glamour" to
corvaxgirl [at] gmail [dottie] com
A lot of articles and blog posts I've read about glamour often goes into the hows and whys of enhancing ones self. There are practical benefits to learning the basics of image, what your image says to others and how to tweak it to say what you want. Glamours can be really empowering if you work with them.

But are you dressing to highlight your best - or hide it?

Into her college years, one of my best friends wore her hair very long until it overpowered her features and constantly dressed in a child-like manner. Despite repeatedly moaning about how people never took seriously as an adult and artist, she refused to even consider changing her appearance to present a more mature image. Any attempts to convince her to try were met with the argument that she didn't want to change "who she was" or inhibit her "style". However, I doubt she would have described her personality or style as timid and childish! Her fear, insecurity and lack of confidence was dictating how she dressed - resulting in a glamour that made her forgettable and easily dismissed. It wasn't until after she had graduated school and was living on her own that she began to shed that glamour - dressing more appropriately for her age and even trying an adorably cute short haircut (the first time I had ever seen her cut her hair).

I dressed that way as well for many years. I wore baggy and bland clothing designed to blend into the background. Growing up, I always felt singled out and ostracized in my neighborhood, so I dressed to avoid further attention (and consequently, danger). I was dressing from fear, my glamour was to become invisible. As I became older and more confident in myself, I felt more free to choose clothing items that displayed my personality instead of hiding it (still working on it though).

But negative glamours aren't just about baggy, bland clothes and hiding behind your haircut. Overly revealing clothing can be a negative glamour as well - plunging necklines, non-existent clothing and skirts too tight to walk in draw attention to your body - not your personality or character. If someone is staring at your chest, they aren't looking you in the eyes and giving you the respect of their attention to your words. This can be an intentional glamour, just like dressing invisibly can be, but just as often negative glamours can be the unintentional result of unresolved issues. The difference is awareness.

It's good to get a basic idea of what various images you may be projecting by taking a good look at yourself (and your closet) and asking yourself a few questions. This is by no means a complete list, but some good starter points may be:

What are your favorite colors? Why? How do they make you feel or what images/memories do they evoke? For example, my favorite color is a bright electric blue- it makes me feel energized, but calm and makes me think of high mountain tops under clear skies and roaring winds. Yes, blue reminds me of Peppermint Patty commercial, so sue me.

How much of your favorite color(s) are in your wardrobe? If they aren't, why not?
What is the dominant color in your wardrobe? For me, my pants fall into two categories: blue jeans or black slacks. Casual and professional. I tend to avoid bright pants because a) black pants are supposed to be slimming and b) I can't cover up bright pants with a jacket. For tops, I lean heavily towards the cool color end of the spectrum: greens, purples, blues and muted versions of them.
What clothes do you wear over and over again? How do they make you feel? You'll probably find that you have "power" clothes- clothes that you really love wearing- and "comfort" clothes- the ones you throw on and run out with because they are simple, easy standbys.
How do they make you look? Really? For this one, you might want to take a photo. No, not one with a cute pose or at a flattering angle- a straight-on full-body shot in clear light. Try to imagine that you're looking at yourself walking down the street - do those "casual" clothes really look sloppy?
How is the condition of your hair? Do you have rampant split ends, dryness or other chronic problems? Do these come from not taking care of your hair- or taking too much care of it (blasting it with heat and chemical treatments for example)?

How long have you had your current hair cut? If you can't remember ever changing your hairstyle, ask yourself why. I've had my hair cut short for a few years and have kept it this way for very specific reasons - it's thin, so I keep it layered and short hair makes styling and maintenance a breeze. For me, the convenience outweighs the fact that the cut might not be the most flattering for my round, chubby face.

Would you be willing to throw away all your clothes and radically change your hairstyle? If just reading that question made you grit your teeth, ask yourself why you're so attached to how you currently look/dress. TLC's show What Not to Wear is a great example of people who really cling to their own narrow ideas of how they should look, so I recommend watching it.

Get your friends in on it. It can really interesting to have an impromptu fashion show and see what impressions your friends and family get from your look.

Of course, not everyone is going to be affected the same by your clothing or accessories. While you might feel sleek and polished in a pant suit, it's guaranteed that someone else will see it as typical corporate zombie wear, so don't drive yourself crazy trying to project specific images to the world. A red scarf or tie might help you stand out and be more memorial during a job interview, but that might be because your interviewer hates red and thinks you're an arrogant blowhard for wearing it (instead of appearing bold and confident like you intended), so at some point you'll have to just let the dice fall as they may. It can be more fun to treat it all like a game and experiment with different clothing personas (How would your superhero self dress? Or your zombie apocalypse survivor self?).

Remember, it's just clothing - not the definition of who you are.

Bio: ApocalypseGrrl is a writer and creative mercenary living in New York City. She currently is studying up on urban agriculture and quick and easy house building in anticipation of the coming apocalypse


MG Ellington said...

Thank you for this terrific, thought-inspiring post.

Anonymous said...

Thanks MG!

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