Friday, 28 May 2010

Do young women dress badly?

There is, despite the efforts of the fashion industry and media, a chasm between who they feel encapsulates style, elegance and individuality and those that the public, i.e. us, admire. The chasm is being mined by a series of robust excavators. There is the older woman, the alternative woman, the cynic, the individualist, the eccentric and the downright doesn’t give a crap woman. All out there, at the cliff face. But it has ever been so. We get the abridged version of glamour. For every Marilyn, Ava and Rita there were a horde of heavily promoted starlets, well known in their day but now forgotten. No doubt they irritated the hell out of our grans. I know my mother’s retort to what my louche great uncle would have described as ‘dolly birds’ mentioned in a recent television 60’s nostalgia fest was “well we never thought much of her”. It goes beyond fashion, whilst I lament the execrable taste of todays teens, fortysomethings certainly hated my Gothtastic teenage appearance in days gone past.

You might describe me as biased, being an, ahem, older lady but at the moment it is the women, rather than the girls dressing with pzazz. This despite the fact younger girls have the lissom looks and slim limbs. I suspect it is because their role models, as pushed by the media are so lacking in flair. Perhaps also a lack of distinctiveness about the noughties has led to a great deal of nostalgia but the nostalgia is being poorly translated. Will Lady Gaga and Cheryl Cole be theSiouxsie Siouxs and Blondies of the era when today's teenagers are 40? the jury is most definitely out.

Just to be contentious I am going to list a few women who impress me. Not necessarily beautiful but just a bit memorable. Completely personal. But I would be interested to hear other impressions, if only for further confirmation of the fact that the media are getting it wrong or alternatively that I am just an opinionated old bat! Certainly I am no style maven myself but then again I am not plastered all over magazines. I am also going to select a few media favourites who not only leave me cold but mildly infuriated. But I will start with the 'I likes!'

Eva Green. Not very famous and doesn’t appear a lot on the red carpet but when she does...well just look at the picture above. Particularly notable is Ms Green's approach to posing for the paparazzi. I always seem to remember her photographs. She has this velvety, vampiric slippery thing going on. Along with Kristin Scott Thomas she looks comfortable wearing haute couture. If Ms Green was less attractive she would still, I suspect carry her clothes comfortably and I get the impression that a stylist is not imposing their will upon her. Grown-up Goth glamour.
Lily Allen. A contentious choice but whether she is choosing them or not I like most of the stuff she rolls up wearing. Full marks for resisting tat, being prepared to wear daft wigs and happily accepting bags of stuff from Chanel. In fact her French school girl look is very chic. And I also like that heavy fringed daft spaniel look.I also applaud is her rejection of fashionable skankiness

Marion Cotillard. OK, she’s French and now has the entire raft of French designers at her delicate fingertips. But again, it is that quirkiness, I have seen a couple of pre-fame photographs and she had that tendency then. Her clothes don’t always look fantastic but they are often interesting. Note in the picture above she is prepared not to have big blown out hair.

Camila Batmanghelidh. For colour, verve and those head dresses. This is a woman who has her style and despite being very busy with Kid’s Company keeps it up simply because she likes it. This knocks spots off of the faux trendy ethnic accessories donned by Trustafarians. Clothes that make you want to know the wearer.

Cate Blanchett. If you look closely she is not a 'pretty' beauty but a striking woman. And yes whilst her clothes veer on the blandly tasteful side they suit her and are often accompanied by surprising accessories. Seems when things go wrong the stylist has had a hand in it. But often this lady does look really elegant in the old school tense. Tilda Swinton has an element of the same kind of strong minded simplicity in her clothing.

Lulu Guinness.

Daphne, Jasmine and Lulu Guinness. Must be something in that family brew. Tranny heels and skunk hair, little forties dresses and a casual formality and handbags, red lips and pretty little suits. Spending their Guinness fortunes in a way quite unlike the Hiltons..

Jasmine Guinness

Now for the others…

The Olsen Twins. Cadaverous junky looks juxtaposed with expensive purposely – bad hair. Forgivable if you are Courtney Love but not if you are..well I am not sure what they are. Probably nice girls…but the clothes, and the posture! Someone should nail a couple of Dictionaries to their heads. As a Gothy type I appreciate the about to die approach to looks, but it requires a little romance and poeticism...

Alexa Chung. Yes I know I pick on her, but her clothes are ugly, and dull, and ill fitting and yet she is the fashion icon. All the boys had her hair cut in the 70’s, a scruffy non-hairstyle redolent of David Cassidy exiting a wind tunnel.. Her boyfriend is cute, but he doesn’t get anywhere near the attention she gets. He’s smarter too. Not difficult. Her recent rant was that US television doesn’t know how to handle gutsy independent women. Of course not, not the nation that spawned Julia Child, Martha Stewart and Oprah.

Gwyneth Paltrow. That chilly blonde farm girl beauty needs sharp masochistic tailoring but this actress for some reason makes even the most directional clothing look bland. And those horrid clumpy shoes. Sadly she has taken to wearing Stella McCartney’s dreary shapeless designs. Could probably rock a modern take on Grace Kelly but won’t because everyone would notice (so what?). Specialises in ugly shoes.

Female R&B divas. Oh and Cheryl Cole who is an R & B wannabee diva. Is it down to Lady Gaga? This explosion of trashy angular Ming the Merciless outfits, look at Rihanna. If not this approach it is porno spangles. It goes with the mad gospel style sub Whitney warbling. Those old skool hip hop girls looked a lot more fun. Mind you in those days they were not just the whipping girls for rap singers sordid imaginings. Pfah!

Labour cabinet ministers. Yes I know it is not their job to look stylish. But what with pudding bowl haircuts and badly cut suits they are not representing their core working-class voters. Why not sharp suits, heels, red lippy and a ‘shut up Tory boy’ stare? Anyway I thought it was unfair, int the interests of equality, to entirely concentrate on slagging off the youngers!

Well that’s my list in a nutshell! I’d love to hear if anyone agrees or disagrees or would like to add others. I personally know lots of intimidatingly stylish women of all ages. It’s a purely personal, and admittedly a shade bitchy opinion from someone who is not a great exemplar of fashion itself. But I am sick of being told how to look like people who look like crap. Especially as with ageism in mind they now sometimes tag on ‘at any age!’


Unknown said...

LOVE Eva Green, Marion Cotillard and the Guinness girls. HATE Lily Allen...she quite put me off Chanel and glad she's been dropped. Camilla 'canteversayhersurname' turban woman is just that. Every time I see her, I always think, why does she dress like that?

Cannot abide how everyone thinks Gaga's 'different' in a fashion sense. She's a plain, wealthy, New Jersey girl creating an eccentricity to hide her blandness. Compare and contrast with Grace Jones, Roisin Murphy and the stylish but bonkers, Anna Piaggi (of Italian Vogue). Minna, you left off the last few and I'm sure you'd LOVE.

Helen Highwater said...

If Gaga's music was half as wacky as her dress sense, then maybe it would be vaguely memorable. Alas, no. And to be honest, her dress sense is tiresome. She looks like a rabbit that's been covered in glue and rolled through a panto dame's wardrobe.

Alexa Chung is super annoying.

I liked Lilly's circle dresses but why did she always pair them with trainers?!

Suzi said...

Marion Cottilard and Jasmine Guinness always look lovely..

Lainie Petersen said...

Saw this article today and thought of your blog post, Miss Minna. The Olsen twins in all their glory:

Breathless said...

Love Marion Cottilard!

Admin said...

I love Eva Green. She has that glint in her eye. I like your choices, it makes me feel bad that I don't put enough effort into what I'm wearing though. Must try harder!

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Alex Zorach said...

This post brings up a really interesting point that I've thought about a lot. I often feel like the fashion industry is self-perpetuating and sometimes even that it gets people, especially women, to think that fashions are "trendy" and then shell out lots of money for them, when they don't look good to other people and don't send the message that these women want to be sending.

I do think there's no "good" or "bad" is a matter of personal taste. But I often notice this disconnect myself.

Personally, the one thing I absolutely abhor in women's fashion is impracticality. Even in Philadelphia, which isn't exactly the capital of high fashion, I see so many women walking around the city with ghastly high heels and dresses that are just not suitable for the weather or the environment they're walking around in. Sometimes I find myself drawn to people who go for the college student look, just throwing on jeans, sneakers, and a hoodie...these people look comfortable, and looking comfortable makes them exude confidence.

Of course, you can't dress like that everywhere, but I think that there are many ways you can look snazzy, colorful and expressive, or even professional, while still being comfortable. I think a lot of the examples you give in this post are good examples of how you can do this.

Sometimes I wish more women would embrace the less is more concept...less makeup, simpler they just look more comfy in. This may be just my opinion, but I think a lot of people, both men and women, perceive people more similarly to this than the fashion industry would want us to believe.

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