"Your socks should match your tie." |
-- David G. Hartwell
"Hartwell is the only editor I know whom you can bribe by giving him second-hand neckties."
-- anonymous science fiction writer
* perhaps you've been wanting to devote those extra walk-in closets to ties
Match shirt to sunglasses.
Another fashion tip:
Age! Grey hair goes with any combination of colors and patterns!
Ask yourself these important questions:
Does the air around you vibrate with electricity when you put on the sport jacket you picked out to go with the tie?
Will the entire parade follow you when you try to leave?
Do complete strangers begin conversations in elevators with the question "Where did you get that ?"
by David G. Hartwell
I have known Holy Aesthetic Ignorants who put tremendous faith in an inner light, of intelligence, or personality, or virtue, that blinds the enlightened ones to all external manifestation (except for coolth--more about this below). From a distance one of these might well be mistaken for a street person. (I know an editor who was.) Science fiction fandom has a large population of Holy Ignorants, as does physics and engineering, and of course there are Programmers...
Most of them do not believe in the existence of style in art either, just content. The worst offenders don't bathe regularly and sleep in their clothes.
Of course the other millions of people who spend nearly as much simply lose. They are thought of by their competitors as fashionable and as knowledgeable --though as I said all are losers except the first each time--but they are in fact aesthetically impoverished, their imaginations and creativity brutalized by the compulsion to imitate.
They are like all those writers who aspire to contemporary literary fashion by writing, say, about ordinary people in ordinary circumstances in the first person present tense, as certain contemporary models did. They are not much read. As Samuel R. Delany has observed, it is as if ten thousand of the finest writing talents sat simultaneously at their word processors writing the same story. We are only interested in reading the five or six first and best. It is a costly but an easy competition to lose. The lottery has better odds.
A) Consistency is the enemy.
Don't use the same solutions every fall, etc. Keep a couple of those large plastic storage bins for clothes you should put away for a couple of years until they are surprising again. Buy or construct extra closet space. Abundant supply is the foundation upon which a surprising outfit may be regularly built.
B) Become an expert on one accessory and acquire a large supply.
Plan your outfit for the day around that accessory. Be it stockings or neckties, hats or suspenders, make that accessory your fashion trademark. My own choice, of course, has been neckties.
C) Never buy retail (except as in D, below).
Clothing is made to be fashionable in a season. By removing it from its season and all the associations of that moment, it can be recreated and renewed--or boring and homely. Select your clothing cannily in after-season sales, or at best in the finest thrift shops, nearly-new stores, or church sales wherever the wealthy go to church.
Do not entirely scorn the Salvation Army stores and such, but travel on occasion to wealthy suburbs and you will be richly rewarded in fine clothing at reasonable prices. Once last winter Kathryn bought three cashmere sweaters in a weekend for a total price of $18.00. My last Brooks Brothers jacket cost $10.00.
I know a man who used to go to England every year and buy a used Rolls Royce for a couple of thousand dollars, then ship it back to the U.S., drive it for a year and then sell it to finance his next trip and buy another. He always had money left over and by the time I met him often bought two or more cars. It worked for years, and so I incorporated his insight into my theory.
D) Remember to have a fashionable outfit.
Pick a public occasion every few months and wear it to separate yourself from the Ignorants, both in their eyes, and in the eyes of the poor Fashionables. And nothing beats a tailored outfit or designer dress on those occasions when you want to look like a million dollars.
E) Always pick another color.
Every season has its colors. Avoid them. You are free to build an outfit from every other color and shade. (Avoid unaccompanied black 'til the 21st century. It is merely the hip color of invisibility and indistinguishable from Fashion.)
F) Enlightened practitioners use unusual juxtapositions of
Never fear to experiment with striking clashes. You will win in the eyes of most Fashionable people (who are insecure because they can never tell whether you are the next wave they might have to imitate) and be accorded the respect of your peers, who appreciate stylistic experimentation. Holy Ignorants may think you are funny, but will take pains to ignore it, or treat you like an equal. You still win.
This page created by Kathryn Cramer on June 22, 1996. Last Updated on September 10, 1997.
Click here to read an Author's Note.