Thursday, 19 September 2013

Who shall I be today?

Who shall I be today? It’s a question that many individuals and those considered as style icons have cited when describing the process of dressing. Assuming a character is an accepted way of choosing what to wear. It acknowledges that we have fluid appearances, and that we can change the way we're perceived at the drop (or donning) of a hat.

For me, sometimes that question refers back to a specific person. Do I want to reference Katharine Hepburn, maybe, or Kate Bush? Often though, it links more to a particular theme, era or idea. This might be Victorian heroines, the exuberance of Singin’ in the Rain or a snatched line from a fairy tale. Who do I feel like today? Is it going to be slick androgyny in a dinner jacket or an ode to autumn in tweed and leather boots?

Much of this takes place at a barely registered level. Often it's a process of pulling something from the wardrobe and seeing what can be added; what colours or layers or accessories to include. But part of the pleasure can be in matching outfits to the day’s activity. In the pictures above, I chose what felt appropriate for a day spent doing research for an essay on the Brontes. Thus I wore an idealised version of 'artful student' meets 'school governess', executed in dusky shades like faded pages. The concept wasn’t anywhere near that clear-cut when I put it on – more of a case of “I need something to layer under the dress to keep me warm. What colours go with brown? Ooh, heels and olive socks is deliciously a bit Burberry circa SS09 when I still got excited by trends...” (there’s a fair bit of fashion wittering that goes on in my head). But the day's activities ahead most certainly influenced my choice.

I do this a lot. Packing for three days by the chilly Welsh seaside involved a suitcase full of practical shorts, striped shirts and knitted cardigans. Boy scout with an Edge of Love inspired twist. I enjoy the challenge of giving myself a theme and working within its limits. If I'm going to be spending time in the V&A, I dress accordingly. If it’s a day slobbing at home then I may as well do it with panache (pink and white candy striped trousers with a silk jersey shirt and raspberry coloured jumper).

Maybe I give too much thought to clothes, but then they are a subtle form of language – one in which we can assemble an endless variety of sentences. A chiffon skirt and lace cami-top conveys a very different meaning to leather shorts and cropped mohair jumper. And in much the same way that one can privately relish the sound of a word or refrain, so getting dressed can be at its most gratifying when it is just for oneself. 

It was apples a-plenty to match the Paul Costelloe shirt and vintage Laura Ashley dress (both from charity shops). All jewellery belonged to my late maternal grandma. I felt rather like a character let loose from some folklore tale. Talking of which, below is a snap of the article I wrote for issue 4 of Lionheart magazine. The theme was 'Shape', and so I explored the history, shaping narrative technique and modern significance of fairytales. The whole publication is more gorgeous than ever, bursting with photography, whimsy and thoughtful pieces, so I urge UK readers to seek out a copy. 



Ivana Džidić said...

interesting point of we...assuming character when we dress...perhaps it is always so.

you look lovely!

cowbiscuits. said...

These pictures are so awesome! I was going to mention you looked like a Fairytale character - i think its the apples and beautiful hair :P


Joanna said...

Beautiful images. There is a sense of oldness in them.

Hannah Spanner said...

Oh gosh you are so beautiful amongst the apples! I dress with characters in mind be it Ophelia or Dali I always dress for escapism. xxx

Gabrielle said...

Wow. Those photos are amazing! :)

Thrifted Shift said...

What nice fall photos! My favorite is the last one.

Anupriya DG said... are absolutely right...our passion for fashion gives us the chance of stepping into many a interesting pair of shoes and being whoever we want to be! :)

I love your smart & World War II-ish! And the apple tree made for the perfect accessory to your pretty face! <3

Helen Le Caplain said...

Beautiful pics - you look like the heroine out of a beautifully-illustrated fairy tale book :)

Helen said...

Gorgeous pictures Rosalind, I love the play aspect of dressing up, who am I going to be? what role am I needing to portray today?

Izzy DM said...

How exciting! The pages look gorgeous. I wish we could see it in the States. I found a site that sells Vogue UK but your issue wasn't available yet (this was months ago, shamefully.) Now I need to purchase both stories!

Wonderful to see you soaring as you look to be doing in these photos with a markedly 30s feeling to them. I wish I could pull of vintage anymore, but I think I look best (now that I seem to be a permanently extra ten pounds) in sleeker things. I can still purchase second-hand items though, and now that I'm a size 4ish instead of 2ish, I might need to do that. Perhaps I'll blog about it :).

Well, thanks for the inspiration: I have ceased to think who will I be today other than a spandex-clad mommy or to be playful with my clothes, and it's one of the joys of life!

Go, Roz!

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Ha! I do that a lot, too! My friends once asked me "so yesterday you were Catherine Deneuve and today you're homeless?" lol...I put varying degrees of effort into my outfits.
Lovely photos, as always :) x


My siblings always joked about my dressing up even when I was a little girl, because I loved lace and tweed so much! I think even now, I often think of characters when conjuring style inspiration. Often a modernised 18th Cent. inspired character,romanticised with menswear elements.
Have a wonderful weekend! You look wonderful in these photos, I love the subtle colouring of taupe and pink merged together. /Madison

The Foolish Aesthete said...

I see the Bronte-esque reference revealed in your outfit! And you are absolutely right about the barely conscious process of curating clothing pieces with a theme or character in mind. It seems a natural extension of our creative selves, much like arranging words for poetry or prose is for you.

Oh, I wish I could read your Fairytale article. I recently read Seamus Heaney's wonderfully-wrought rendition of Beowulf upon his death. (I can't remember which version I read back in school) And followed that up with some of the old Nordic tales of Odin. We owe so much to those oldest tales. And certainly, great writers and film makers have mined those narrative structures to tell their own stories.

Love the photos of you practically embedded in the trees! - J xx

Emalina said...

You are indeed living in a fairy tale in these gorgeous orchard photographs. I love the subtle autumnal hues of that ensemble, the slight nod to the 1930s in that lovely dress, and the last portrait of you radiating beauty and happiness amongst the apples.

I will try to find your article, fairy tales are very much my thing. Just asking oneself, "Who shall I be today?" adds so much more fun to the day, I agree. We can be anyone we please.

Sandy Joe said...

I love the whimsy of this post. Kate Bush is one of my major fave rave's.

x The Pretty Secrets

Louise said...

love this post.. it's definitely underestimated how much an outfit can affect our demeanor and the extent that it is an entirely new character! You look beautiful here as always. x

Marla Robinson said...

Lovely outfit and amazing photos.

Anonymous said...

It's funny you should mention Edge of Love - I channel it (or attempt to) on my yearly pilgrimage to the Welsh countryside, too. I used to worry that I didn't have a particular 'look' or 'style' but now I relish playing a different character every day.

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