Monday, December 8, 2008

Character, Not Caricature

Examples of caricature at work: Julie Macklowe looking like a slutty schoolgirl (far left); Dita von Teese looking like a Fifties movie star (right)

Somebody at work made an off-hand comment about how I was "born with a silver spoon in [my] mouth." That, like many other casual throw-away judgments I've heard lately, were soon described by a close friend as my "caricature, not [my] character." She knew (by virtue of her knowing me) that these untrue statements were based on some overblown misconception from my sartorial image.

Although I certainly do not dress with a particular stereotype in mind, it appears that we all sometimes fall into a caricature: some hyperbolic idea of ourselves that is propagated by either ourselves or others. Our individual style aesthetic is usually informed by some external type: rocker-chick, uptown socialite, preppy schoolgirl, emo goth, sporty girl next door, conservative professional. These sartorial types help us express what we see as our inner character, but when we adhere too rigidly to these types, we venture dangerously into caricature.

It is, however, difficult to alter any opinion that associates "style" with "money." When I hear that view, I must, to paraphrase Polonius' oft-quoted line, be true to my own self, for apparel oft proclaims the woman.

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