Monday, April 18, 2011

Inspiration: Film Edition

It's not particularly difficult to find an article or blog post about fashion in movies and find ways to put together Clueless or Heathers-esque outfits. That is not stopping me from writing this. In addition to those movies, I want to point out a few more films that can be considered sources of outfit inspiration. However, instead of just focusing on emulating the actual outfits worn by the characters, I want to use the feeling you get from watching a particular film to create an outfit. Yeah, we're about to get really touchy-feely in here.

Nancy Drew

There is something about this movie that has made me watch it over and over again since it was released in 2007. It boasts some sort of lesson about being yourself, which is apparent when you compare Nancy's (Emma Roberts) outfit with the other furry boot-wearing popular girls in the film. The salesgirl in the above photo recognizes Nancy's originality, saying that she "loves the sincerity." That makes my inartistic self want to go gather a bunch of random fabrics and sew them together to create an outfit that's only awesome to me and about two other people. This film is a great one to watch if you want inspiration for an ultra sincere/preppy detective vibe. Let's just say I went out and bought penny loafers after my first viewing.


On the opposite end of the spectrum, the classic 1988 film Heathers portrays the preppy look (and lifestyle) in a very dark and ironic manner. The plaids and colorful tights are worn by girls who make the Mean Girls look like misunderstood sweethearts. The brightness of their clothing make the morbid occurrences of murder and suicide look positively stylish. I'm not saying you should dress like the Heathers in preparation for some deadly activities, but there's nothing wrong with being influenced by their bitchtastic style. Also, remember the higher the shoulder pads, the more power you will hold.


Nothing says "childish whimsy" quite like Matilda, which I find to be a sorely underrated film. I mean, the kid develops psychokinesis because she isn't using her brain enough! There's a message there about the consequences of not valuing education. Whatever. Miss Honey's overalls may appear childish in 2011, but I think they speak volumes of her sweetly optimistic personality. The green world setting of her humble abode make such an outfit possible, and inspires one to throw on a pair of denim overalls and hang out in the grass with a good book. (Okay, perhaps not everyone would ever be inspired to put on overalls. To each his/her own.)

Uptown Girls

Speaking of childish whimsy (and overalls), I love the role reversal (that is especially evident in the above photo) of the two main characters in Uptown Girls. In this movie, which critics hated but I've always adored, Molly (Brittany Murphy) is the free-spirited adult who refuses to grow up and Ray (Dakota Fanning) is the uptight ballerina who won't let loose. Since Molly lives a fairy tale life, she dons a wide assortment of pretty dresses and flowy skirts (did I mention the overalls?), which contrasts well with Ray's structured school uniform. Anyone looking for inspiration for a princess-like outfit should watch this movie.


We end with an epic movie that supports this theory: If you put effort into how you look, you will end up looking better than everyone else. In a bonus feature on the Clueless DVD, writer/director Amy Heckerling talks about how the tendency of 1995 high school kids to dress like dirty supporters of the grunge movement ultimately provoked Cher to dress the way she did. This means lots of plaid (jackets and skirts, not flannel), knee-high socks, headbands, and of course, that notorious Calvin Klein dress. She taught us that it is worth the effort it takes to look good. Putting an outfit together carefully reflects a creative mindset that understands and respects the fact that other people are going to be subjected to look at him or her.

Friday, April 15, 2011

One Step Closer

The California Senate passed a bill Thursday requiring public schools to teach kids about the history of gays, lesbians, bisexual and transgender people. If the bill makes it through the State Assembly and is signed by Governor Jerry Brown, that would mean California would be the first state that requires kids to learn about gay history. Possible consequences of the passing of this bill would include a decrease in the amount of gay kids killing themselves due to the bullying they're forced to endure and learn about important figures (i.e. Harvey Milk) and events that shape gay history.

The implementation of this bill is essential if society is ever going to overcome the frightening amount of homophobia that is STILL running rampant. Perhaps other less liberal states are a little more in need of the history lesson, but California is notorious for being the first to make drastic steps to become more progressive. Other states would be wise to follow suit. And the fact that there is opposition to this bill is exactly why it should be made law in the first place.

One easy way to see the negative, generally homophobic reactions to this bill is to check Yahoo! News comments. The same people who only get their news via the headlines they see when they check their email are the ones who leave comments such as these:

"Instead of teaching our kids sciences and math so they can compete in the global economy, we are gonna waste our time teaching them that it is OK to be gay." - SDJ

Because teaching kids that there's nothing wrong with being gay is somehow going to prevent them from competing in the global economy. Open-mindedness certainly wouldn't get them anywhere, right?

Or there's this little gem:

"California: Trying to indoctrinate your kids into homosexuality since 2011" - Jason

Indoctrinate? So since kids are also learning about African American history and Mexican American history, they may actually become African American or Mexican American? Does that mean when men learn about women's history...they may... TURN INTO WOMEN?!

"This is the begining of the end. Gays say they want tollerance for their sick and twisted lifestyle, but they demand100% acceptance, and they don't care if it's a forced acceptance brought upon by our morally corrupt politicians. Look, I don't care what two people do behind closed doors, but don't force me and my family to accept your disgusting sexual desires as normal." - Michael

How selfish and demanding for them gays to want to be accepted and not called "disgusting" or "sick and twisted!" This comment is evidence of the dire need for this bill to be passed. Unfortunately, anything this Michael fella ever learned in school clearly went in one ear and out the other, anyway. Looks like somebody didn't do too well on their third-grade spellings tests.

Read the comments on New York Magazine's version of the article and you'll see a greater number of positive, pro-equality responses to the bill. I think "ADRIAN_IN_DALLAS" says it best:

"All I can say is it's about damn time!"

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Downside of (Alleged) Cultural Literacy

The purpose of being an English major, I have recently discovered, is to make me "culturally literate." The novels, short stories and poems that have been selected to assist in this process are ones that have been deemed the greatest. They will change the lives of those who read them and make them more empathetic to the human condition.

If anything, since being forced to endure these "literary greats," I have become less empathetic to the human condition. Most of the authors whose works I have been reading have killed themselves, created characters who have killed themselves, or are clearly quite tempted to kill themselves.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not opposed to making my boyfriend read me Sylvia Plath poems aloud while I fall asleep. The summer before my senior year of high school, I read Flowers for Algernon for fun. And I love me some inky-cloaked Hamlet every so often. But would it be such a crime to assign literature that isn't meant to torment and depress the reader in order to get a message across? Almost every story I've read in my Bible-like Norton Anthology for American Lit this semester involves some old dude who is depressed because he's on the brink of death and he's filled with regret, blah blah blah. It's not surprise that I would rather hang out with Becky Bloomwood than one of those schmucks.

I propose that in addition to the soul-killing literature that is shoved down our throats faster than we can swallow, we should be reading some Chuck Klosterman essays that provoke thinking about life in a way that is funny and relevant without being sad and pseudo-meaningful. Or we can read a novel that addresses tough questions but gives at least a hint of hope at the end, such as the ending to The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

"So, if this does end up being my last letter, please believe that things are good with me, and even when they’re not, they will be soon enough.
And I will believe the same about you."

Doesn't that sound a little less depressing than sitting through an hour and five minutes listening to people discuss the meaninglessness of life as it relates to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead?

It is. There can still be educational value in optimism, and that's coming from a self-proclaimed pessimist. So until the literature proves to be less suicide-inducing, I will spend my class time immersing myself in happier thoughts i.e. by scanning the classroom and deciding what I would do if I were Stacy London and my classmates were actually contestants on What Not To Wear.

Now that gives me hope.