(Photos are from my WTF Pinterest board.)
To take the last post about being buried alive in stuff a step further, and to talk about clothing, I’d like to start with a poem. Below that, some further thoughts on making our own clothes and how that may just be the key to saving the world.
Strike A Pose
Paris is where it all began,
this change from garb to fashion,
this following the crowd,
this desire to be
In the royal court,
in the face with the realization we will never be more than commoners.
On the runway,
with the idea that a change of clothes will transform us into someone we are not.
The Sun King and Marie Antoinette have more integrity than
Coco Channel and Pierre Cardin.
Let them eat cake.
Let us wear silk.
Even if you drape yourself with silks,
you will get old.
You will get fat.
You will get wrinkles.
You will die.
Fashion is something that we have to deal with as knitwear designers and as knitters. Most of us make clothes, and the patterns that are available to us often follow the trends on the runway. Not always, but often. I hate that. By making our own clothes, we have the power to give fashion the finger, but instead we end up following trends. If not the trends of the Paris runways, the trends of Ravelry and the next “what’s hot” pattern. Instead of using our ability to make our own clothes to transcend or reject fashion, we just make another copy of the same thing everyone else is making.
Today that groupthink is at the behest of fashion, led by top runway designers and lower-end stores who knock off their designs. In the past the groupthink was tradition, where people from different places and different social castes wore essentially the same style clothes that their mothers fathers, grandmothers, and grandfathers had worn. In some cases the styles of clothing people could wear was even specified by law.
In a way I get it, it’s fun to do a KAL and make the same thing together with a bunch of other knitters. You can help each other, share tips and tricks, compare colors and yarns, and make a party out of it. I love that part of knitting: the community aspect. It’s fun to be part of a group and to feel like you belong and that you’re not a weirdo, oddball, societal reject. I get it, I really do.
What’s funny is that when I was in jr. high and high school, I thought I was a consummate nonconformist, but I was just following a different drummer. Not my own drummer, not a different drummer from everyone else, just a different drummer than the ones the cool kids were following. I ended up being just as much as a conformist as they were, I was just conforming to a different standard.
I guess there’s really no way to be a complete nonconformist because there are billions of us humans on this planet and whatever I do, I’m sure I’m not the only one doing it. And as much as I’d like to believe I am the smartest person on the planet, I can’t quite deceive myself into believing that’s true, and I know that I pick up my ideas from books, articles, movies, and other people around me. In fact, trying to be a total nonconformist is probably just a stupid teenager idea that is still lurking in the corner of my brain.
So what’s a girl to do? (Well, first, admit that at at 52, she’s no longer a “girl”!) Knit some things from popular patterns if you want, have fun with fashion if you want, but please, oh please, do not be a slave to it. Do not reject other styles because they aren’t cool or trendy. Don’t thumb your nose at things that are currently out of style or fashions that were the definition of coolness in another decade or century. Make something that is truly YOU, that is inspired by your grandmother, or the flowers in your garden, or the colors of the winter sky. Make a sweater that doesn’t have waist shaping or bust darts or short rows just because those techniques are trendy; make cuff down socks on dpns; make an acrylic granny square afghan; make whatever the hell you want (yes, even if it’s trend-o-mania swants).
That’s not at all what I intended to write. I guess I really have no answers. Who does? Sometimes it’s the questions that are important. But I would hope that the ability to make things for ourselves, especially our clothing which gives us a face and a force to present to the world, would give us the ability to let our own inner beauty shine rather than trying to be a mirror of what we see around us.
With any luck, I’ll be back soon to write about the ideas in these two books, as well as this TED Talk on “a kinder, gentler philosophy of success” by Alain de Botton, one of my favorite writers.