Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Carnivale of Couture: Festive Fashion Finally!

This week's Carnivale was supposed to be last week's carnivale--but the holiday spirit has infused some fashionable dose of laissez-faire in the fashion blogging community and the whole thing got postponed. Also, my apologies for getting this posted rather late in the game--but here it is!

My question was about festive fashion:
What is the proper attire for 4th of July? In other words, can you be festive without being tacky? What does a fashionable woman or man wear while overloading on hot dogs and fireworks?
I wanted to keep my question away from the politics as I wanted to explore more the realm of the festive and the ceremonious as manifested in one's choice of outfit, with the obvious ensuing question, are festive concerns a part of our wardrobe planning? I vaguely remember a brief time in my childhood when Sunday outfits were somewhat "special" (and no, we were not going to the church--it was, I guess, just a trailing tradition). These days I try to dress nicely just about every single day--as a sign of respect for myself and for the others, and just plain because I enjoy it.

I never used to signal the national day in my old country through my dress. Fourth of July however seems a celebration of an entire different order of maginitude, eliciting emotions and gestures that are emphatically anchored in the visual (and partially, gustative) realms. Visual symbols are what one immediately associates with this holiday: the flag, the red white and blue, the fireworks.

And compared with such ostentatious display of patriotic colors, what kind of statement can one make that would matter? Still, the fact that we choose to make a statement at all, whether to embrace or to reject these colors emphatically is, I guess, says that we're still investing this holiday with meaning (positive or negative), and that dress is a way of doing it. So let's see what we got, shall we?

The fabulous Manolo chose to embrace the birthday of his adopted country by donning the festive and decidedly non-tacky attire: "the casual blue suit with the white shirt and the red tie with small white stars." Mmmmm, sounds good, Manolo! Won't you regale us with a picture of that?

Maria Palma from the Runway Scoop spends some time dodging the question, and has the wise advice, which I try to follow for just about any occasion: wear whatever makes you feel comfortable. But the fashionista in her caves in and she fantasizes about a festive mood that would make her wear "a white wrap dress with denim peep-toe heels and red and blue barrettes in [her] hair...." Not bad, not bad at all!

In the comments, Jitterbugbaby amps things up with a blue camisole, white translucent short-sleeved shirt, red leather tie used as a scarf paired with olive green shorts and black sandals. A good mix that's not overly festive but it's tastefully accessorized. Also in the comments, Nancy raises the temperature with festive underwear (red panties, white bra) but mixes it up with her passion for Brazil (green cami and yellow sweater). Well, soccer-wise, this hasn't turned out to be a winning combo (neither the US nor Brazil performed according to expectations in the World Cup) but I've got to admire the team spirit there.

This has also got to be the first time in my life I've decided (much like The Manolo) to don festive colors and go watch the fireworks:
That's me, Photoshopped for privacy, in a Michael Kors navy cotton skirt with geometric white prints (wonderfully light and breezy), and a Banana Republic red tank top paired with an onion-skin white cotton cardigan (also from BR). And the shoes? Why, the Hegos, of course--comfortable, cute, and theme-appropriate.

The holiday elicited some equally dramatic statements. Some just chose to ignore it, quoting the current political climate--Kathleen from the wonderful Fashion Incubator blog, for one. Who can blame her? Certainly not a certain anonymous in the comments who "wore black to protest the war(s)...and the irony of Dr. Strangelove in Korea."

This is a position -- and a choice color-- also embraced by Ella over at Kiss me Stace. Her outfit ("a black camisole over a heather grey tank with snazzy lace and dark blue denim knee-length shorts") is meant to show her sophisticated fashion sense rather than her patriotic vein. I would argue that it also is a political statement--one way or another, black or red-white-blue, or just ignoring it altogether, the way we behave sartorially on this holiday is inherently significant, whether we realize it or not.

No matter the colors we choose to wear however, it seems that we've all made some wise fashion choices, unlike this man on the right, which I found buried as a link in Manolo's comments to his post. To me, that is the perfect illustration of how NOT to do festive fashion. Somebody tell this guy that being tacky does not good to his country.

Until the next festive or not-so-festive occasion, so long, festive fashionistas!


At 8:50 AM, Anonymous Susanna said...

Strangely, I kind of like Patriotic Guy's wildy tacky shirt.

It reminds me of my Dad. In a good way.

At 11:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

If no one dressed tackily, who would you have to mock and feel superior to?

At this late stage of my life, I applaud people who have the energy to express a sense of fun. Tacky is mean-spiritedness.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Scarpediem said...

Anonymous, I assume that by the last sentence you meant the opposite (did you?) At any rate, this could actually be an interesting discussion. There are people--often women past their 50s--who prefer "fun" to "stylish"--oversized loose flowery garments, quirky tribal jewelry, floppy overadorned hats, the handmade purses with embroidered cute dogs, and even those awful overdecorated Christmas sweaters, none of which is "bad" per se, but altogether, it tends to be overwhelming when accumulated at once on a single person. This would be ostentatiousness bordering on kitsch but precisely because it's so kitsch and tacky it makes a statement to the opposite effect--the owner is quite self-conscious of her/his own tackiness and defies the norms of "good taste" by daring to express herself against socially dictated propriety. And there's nothing wrong with that. Maybe I'll reach that stage myself one day--maybe not.

But yes, you're right, a festive moment like July 4th is significant enough that one is allowed to defy norms (like in any carnivale! that's the whole point!) and put oneself out there as a symbol and/or character rather than a person. The question is, if you don't care to be made into a symbol but still want to be festive and tasteful--what do you wear? Therein lies the dilemma... For me, at this moment in my life, fashion is a means of enhancing myself rather than playing a odd character.

At 1:48 PM, Anonymous Not Alexander Spotswood said...

Susanna, I feel sorry for your mom. Scarpediem, I feel sorry for your mom also, but I agree that Flag-Shirt Man (Gerry Connoly's superhero alter ego)is an odd character.

At 4:29 PM, Blogger Kenton said...

The Chairman of the Board of Supervisors of Fairfax County gets bashed on fashion too...politics gets nasty.

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous Designer Ella said...

But I knew it was a political statement, and I believe I mentioned that in my post.

At 8:37 PM, Blogger Scarpediem said...

Well, i gues I was just trying to drive home a point, and might have de-emphasized the political aspect of your dress choice for my own purposes... sorry for that. At any rate--point taken!

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