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A Less Narrow View


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Friday, November 23, 2007

A Less Narrow View

Often I read comments on this blog like "Shouldn't clothing enhance a woman's form and femininity? " or something of that nature.

I think this is a very narrow view of what clothing should/could do for a person.

Clothing only needs to keep you protected from the elements, past that what you do with them is your option.

This young lady is a great example of self-expression and intellectual dressing.

Nothing she is wearing really speaks to WHAT she is physically ( fat or skinny, tall or short, male or female) but her look speaks volumes about WHO she is mentally.

Is this fashion? I don't know but it surely is an extremely evolved version of self-expression.


Comments on "A Less Narrow View"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:22 AM) : 

This androgyne would be just as fab as a girl or boy - the vintage-y creativity is great. And your photo is beautiful, Sart! I love the background you have with the orange lines and fall leaves that pop, but don't overwhelm the person. Very nice.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:27 AM) : 

i was sure she was a boy o_O
anyway, i THEORICALLY agree with you (style is a way to express ourselves)but I can't stop thinking she does not LOOK good...

be or appear?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:30 AM) : 

This is absolutely fashion! Self expression. Thank you for bringing this point to light! It is often too easy for us to get caught up in dressing to suit our physical body/appearance, and forgetting that we can augment our personality or attitude with our clothing. Inspirational!


Blogger Cosima said ... (11:31 AM) : 

I loved the expression of what she mentally thinks of herself. However it is not becoming for tall nor short, skinny nor fat, female nor men.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:32 AM) : 

I totally agree.
Just because i am a woman, doesnt mean i have to constantly draw the attention to my femininity. it makes fashion a whole lot interesting if you stop thinking in men vs. women, but in you vs me, to really look at personality, and not thinking, hmm can i wear these pants? or does it make my butt look small, and does this shirt makes my breasts really small?
its nice to wear clothes, just because its the way you feel, instead of what you are by nature.


Blogger Thomas said ... (11:56 AM) : 

Well said.


Blogger whyioughtta said ... (11:59 AM) : 

I like your observation a lot. I don't know if her look is "fashion," but it's definitely "style" (which is way more interesting IMO.) The photo is great--very "post-apocalyptic urban jungle nomad" (in a good way.)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:02 PM) : 

I think she looks really cool. It's nice to hear someone support the idea that a woman doesn't have to play up her feiminity to look good. I think it's a great look on a man or a woman. It's a real shame that so many people can only think a woman looks good if she is playing up her gender. People can be such sheep that way.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:17 PM) : 

A priori, we are dressing up to protect ourselves from the elements, but fashion is communication and it carries symbols. When you look at bermudas+heavy boots you can't help but relate it to a boyish grungy look. Anyway, I don't think she looks good or cool, and it's not because she doesn't look feminine. I do love the collors in the picture though.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:22 PM) : 

On this subject I definitely disagree with you Sart. My opinion is that he or she, whatever, is just trying to make an a statement:Look at me,I´m different. This has nothing to do with true fashion, not even streetfashion.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:22 PM) : 

She is beautiful, and quite obviously a woman. She pulls off this perfectly coordinated look without compromising her femininity, because she has a lovely face and is slim and well-proportioned. 90% of women (including me) should not try this at home, because we would look ridiculous, but on her it works.


Blogger Unknown said ... (12:23 PM) : 

That is it!!! Fashion is about what everybody wants to wear, because everybody else is doing it. Style, however, is making a statement with what you have (in clothing, I mean). And what you have, and the way it 'shows' on you, reflects who you are. About this particulat girl, I'd say she has an artistic personality. Anybody want to bet?


Blogger Anna-Lyssa said ... (12:25 PM) : 

I'm not sure I understand why this "isn't fashion". Can someone please explain why this would not be "fashion"?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:25 PM) : 

Dunno if she's "downplaying" her femininity. IMO, being androgynous means that you hark not on the base notions of "male" or "female"

This look/style/fashion is more political to me. That and a little bit of comical "Please, Sir...can I have some more?" in terms of its time line despite her so serious facial expression.



Blogger The Spicers said ... (12:26 PM) : 

She's got great style, and it's a nice change to see a real individual look, not necessarily subscribing to any fashion dictates. Although I admit I'm much too concerned about whether my clothes flatter to wear this outfit, I do admire her.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:29 PM) : 

Just to throw a dissenting view into the mix... while clothing by no means has to accentuate the male or female forms, it's important to remember that, for a lot of people, fashion is meant to make you look your best. She looks stylish and interesting, but she does not look her best - her clothing is not going to generate an sort of attraction as such. Now, before people misinterpret this and run amok with "oh, so everyone should wear a 4-inch mini skirt, high heels and spaghetti straps with clear-view midriffs" -- I'm not endorsing dressing scantily to induce lust. There are classy ways to do it, that are featured on this blog almost every day. But to some extent, I believe that creativity should be applied to existing social notions. She piques my curiosity, but only that much.


Blogger Leonore said ... (12:36 PM) : 

This is a really strong and forward look. I think there's something very admirable in a person who is able to say "I'm here and now" in how he/she dresses and stands. I love it.


Blogger - jesse said ... (12:41 PM) : 

I feel like the only women I know who dress specifically to their femininity *always* are the ones who are just trying to snag some nuclear family husband. I have literally heard women make decisions on hair length based on what they've read men like in Cosmo. Boring.

I really like this girl's look.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:51 PM) : 

she looks great! I'm fed up of feeling like I have to 'flatter' my body shape, show of my femininity, and feeling that I can't wear certain garments because they give my body the wrong sihouette.
bravo to her, and tonight I'm going to copy her example (with heels!)


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (12:53 PM) : 

For Anon. 12:29

"her clothing is not going to generate an sort of attraction as such"

I strongly disagree

her clothing will attract other like-minded people

that is why I say it is an intellectual appeal - not that it is smart but it speak to a specific point of view as opposed to visual interests alone


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:03 PM) : 

I enjoy your blog so much more when you comment on your pictures (like you did for this one).

I love the androgyny. I'm not convinced this person is female at all. And that is a refreshing, beautiful thing. It just shows how we need to detach gender from material things like clothing, cars, money, etc.


Blogger Ashe said ... (1:04 PM) : 

I'm really intrigued by how each of these individual pieces stands on its own (in regards to subculture and fashion) and how they interplay with one another.

Her boots remind me of the gothic subculture, particularly in cyber wear, and how boots like those are often paired with with clothes and make-up that imply femininity (even of males, they go androgo-female). Her knickers are masculine, but a masculine fashion that have at times been reclaimed by women (sometimes paired with tights and heels). The patterning and cut of her shirt seems to suggest this 1950s housewife ensemble (and the hat is just cute).

Individually, each of these pieces has (in my mind) this inherent femininity about them, and a reclamation of the female form, and yet, the way she pairs them all together calls attention to gender, gender bending, her personal taste and style, etc.

It's really intriguing.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:15 PM) : 

essentially this woman is dressed very masculine (or rather, my eyes essentially reads it as that--as a matter of fact, i thought she was a guy).
ok sart,i have a question: does it work the same way if a man dresses feminine ? would you say bravo to a man whose self expression down plays his masculinity. ( for example, he is 6' and 185lbs wearing women's high stiletto heel boots, fitted tweed pant tucked into the boot, a plaid button down shirt and a baret, and some lipstick and light eye makeup).


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:18 PM) : 

I wish fashion magazines were more like the Sartorialist. Instead, they're populated by female misogynists.


Blogger Deirdre said ... (1:23 PM) : 

I love that shirt. I'd change out the buttons for grey or blue, and wear the shirt wtih a grey pleated skirt, some yellow shoes, and a silver Marc Jacobs bag.


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (1:23 PM) : 

I think you just described Prince during his "Country Flair" era!

"I know it when I see it", just as you know what looks intriguing to you.

I have always thought that Michael Stipe of REM always looked cool with a suit and dark eye make-up.

The way he did the make-up wasn't really femme but it was still make-up

for me that would be the male version


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:28 PM) : 

I agree with you, Sart. However, I think style can be about more than just an expression of one's self, or reflection of one's interests. It can be read from a much more objective standpoint than that. I think this person's style is interesting in that it challenges traditional conceptions "man" and "woman." I think too often many of us operate on cultural auto-pilot, in which we take "women" to be a necessary and natural counterparts to "men." Simone de Beauvoir (I am currently writing a paper about the Second Sex haha, so maybe that is why I see so much in this photograph) famously argued from a social constructionist viewpoint, that people are not born women, but "become" women by being socialized and treated differently in the cultural context. It takes a person like this one to remind us of the inconsistencies in our naive, auto-pilot view, and expose the limits of the cultural discourse of "woman."

But maybe she just chose to wear what she's wearing because she likes it, and there's nothing wrong (in fact, there is everything right) with that.


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (1:28 PM) : 

For Anon 1:03


when I am traveling a lot is is very difficult for me to clear my mind enough to write.

I will be home for most of the month of December so I look forward to more writing in my posts



Blogger Susan B said ... (1:31 PM) : 

Love this post and the discussion!

her clothing will attract other like-minded people

Yes, Sart, exactly! And who's to say she doesn't "look her best?" Is one's "best" what most conforms to cultural ideals, or is it what most expresses the wearer?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:32 PM) : 

Who cares if it is a do or a don't? She doesn't! And that is all that matters.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:36 PM) : 

sart, you just wiggled out of that
the male example i gave was basically the opposite of what she was wearing. she clearly is wearing men's boots and and woman's blouse and perhaps men's pants without wearing make up. i don't know if you really pondered my question without feeling defensive to respond.
i just wonder if you and all your readers would be so quick to say bravo to a man that down plays his masculinity.
i think the viewpoint for men is just as narrow as it is for women as a matter of fact, i think it's more narrow.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:42 PM) : 

For those that don't think she looks good, open your minds. Did it ever stop occur to you that what she is expressing (who she is - no holds barred) is something you are not interested in hearing/seeing/understanding?

For the record, I find her hot.


Blogger Leonore said ... (1:45 PM) : 

This is that voice that says "here I am, and fuck you if you don't understand me."


Blogger Minn Dahlo said ... (1:56 PM) : 

Just the pick-me-up I needed! This is becoming my desktop background as a reminder to myself that style isn't all about weight or money. :D


Blogger The Sartorialist said ... (2:12 PM) : 

I didn't wiggle out

I would have to see your example to react. I think it can it done but it is up to each person whether they think it is well-done.

I often see women in New York that look like the woman in this post but she has executed the look so much better - at least to my eyes

it is simply my opinion.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:29 PM) : 

Since we're all focusing on "m" and his/her comments, it would be nice, Sart, if you posted a series of past pics with men who gender-bended and otherwise screwed with the male standard.

That dude from Italy with the beard and funky gladiator style shoelaces picture immediately comes to mind (and he himself has others) but there have been a wide range of men that you've posted here over the past year that are - dare I say - "femme" and still completely sexy. Much in the same way that this lady is still sexy!



Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:55 PM) : 

She's cute. I also like her pantaloons!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:03 PM) : 

i just think the proportions are not right, the fabrics together don't look nice,... no predjudice involved. it's a cold esthetical analysis. love androgyne, love oversize, skinny, fat, girls without makeup, boys with tons of it... whatever. the look is awful though. sorry. there are better ways to pull off what she's trying to express there. which is not so unique: go to any feminist-sk8ter-fanzine clic and you'll see this kind of look with better use of patterns, collors, fabrics, shapes... i don't think she's a good representation of her like-minded crowd. i do think it's a lot better than a person that looks good with no personality though: people that buy the ready look on a shop's window... but still not good enough for me to consider a "good look".


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:12 PM) : 

"Self-expression," okay, fine. But where is the "intellectual" component?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:24 PM) : 

She's obviously put thought and time into this outfit and she looks great. The pieces are deceptive because they're really very sophisticated. I would wear that shirt/jacket any day of the week.

When you dress in a way that makes you happy, you'll be attractive because you look uniquely like yourself and natural, whether your personal natural is glam or girly or grunge or whatever.

She looks feminine to me and I bet she does even more so in motion. She's very pretty besides and she intrigues.

Not that clothing is only about attracting admiration but as my male co worker (who usually goes for girly types) just said, "She makes you want to see more of her."


Blogger MARIA H said ... (3:28 PM) : 

So we are talking about gender definition trough clothes here.
The question would be, why does a individual has to stick to cultural parameters of what it is "feminine"?

I like her style, even though it is not ultra femme. I can say that, on a daily basis, actually most feminine " attempts" are totally boring.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:40 PM) : 

I like it. It's looks like these that you're not going to copy exactly, but you'll derive inspiration from a piece and make it your own. I like it because she's not trying to emulate some cookie cutter fashionista (= perpetual tan+skinny through starbucks and gym+ysl muse bag+leggings+booties+lvmh or h&m product)...the best girl look since "that girl, that camera"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:07 PM) : 

She looks very interesting, I like the outfit and I agree with what you said. However, not knowing if it's a boy or a girl is kind of disturbing...


Blogger Ryfka said ... (4:32 PM) : 



Blogger Jennifer said ... (4:34 PM) : 

sart said: "her clothing will attract other like-minded people

that is why I say it is an intellectual appeal - not that it is smart but it speak to a specific point of view as opposed to visual interests alone."

i totally and enthusiastically agree, and i wildly love the picture (it's so personal because of the self-expression here, rather than merely "good" taste or wealth that many outfits express) and the woman's style.

so bravO to you and bravA to her!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:35 PM) : 

If someone says that women's clothing should enhance their shape, isn't that suggesting that women should wear tight clothing? I seldom hear people denounce men's baggy clothing for failing to bring out their masculinity. Second, since when is femininity defined by curves or even just the body itself? Also, some women are actually shaped like that. Are they less feminine than a woman who wears a pencil skirt to play up her small waist and big hips? Finally, I think this woman is making quite a statement about her body, not just who she is mentally, because really, when we wear clothing we make statements about our bodies. We are really stating how we think or want others to think about our bodies.
In all I would say this discussion is not only about fashion and style, it's about our assumptions of what a woman's body should look like.


Blogger O!Lightning said ... (4:36 PM) : 

BRAVO SART. Way to make a point. She looks fierce, love it!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:51 PM) : 

robert plant circa '73, prince, hair metal guys from the 80s, robert smith, bowie, there are lots of men who emulate these fellows i mention, playing down their masculinity. and its accepted and hot


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:02 PM) : 

to m-said:
you describe the whole era of glam rockers! And they were beautiful men, as is Prince, whom Sart mentions. I wish we saw more of that today.

I absolutely love this post and second all those who ask for more commentary from Sart (if he has time for it, of course). And to my mind, in this day and age fashion is ultimately tied to consumerism, while style is self-expression.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:03 PM) : 

This woman's style is neither good nor bad, nor femme, nor butch, nor attractive, nor unattractive. It is style. She has style, and style trumps fashion. That is what The Sartorialist is all about. Bringing us images of people with style. The end.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:07 PM) : 

Well said Sart, I couldn't agree more, thank you for pushing us outside the fashion box. I love your phrase 'intellectual dressing'.

I think the difference between style and fashion is that style is an expression of your own character, as this girl is doing, not an ephemeral trend set by someone else.

It took me a long time to find my own style. I can relate to this persons androgyny, I am bi and found myself completely rejecting my femininity as i found my sexuality and tried to identify myself.

m - Sart already does say bravo to men dressed in what we perceive as a feminine way, which is broader than your description; he has featured men in pink suits, men carrying fans, men wearing makeup.


Blogger Claris said ... (5:07 PM) : 

This woman--her stance, facial expression, choice in clothing--reminds me of someone I know...that someone being a 9 year-old boy. But this particular 9-year old boy I know is an adventurous, curious, creative, anarchist punk rebel-in-training, Dangerous Book for Boys kind of boy. So if there's a bit of that 9-year old boy in this woman, more power to her.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:10 PM) : 

I think this is so much more interesting than matching shoes and handbags with the perfect skirt length! I used her way of dressing when I was younger, but that was in another time (the 90's) and right now it is so easy to slip into thinking about brands and wearing heals even though I'm 5'9 and don't like them but everybody's wearing them... Thank you for bringing it up!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:12 PM) : 

I was about to say "bravo", but then discovered you had done the same, and so, can only echo you: bravo!


Blogger Scott W said ... (5:53 PM) : 

Well stated, Sart. She looks great!


Blogger art kids said ... (6:15 PM) : 

she's gorgeous. i hope she's into ladies.


Blogger erica-knits said ... (6:21 PM) : 

I always love your fresh take on fashion. Would I wear this particular ensemble, maybe not. However, are those boots and pants amazing? Hell yes.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:52 PM) : 

The problem is the difference between fashion and style. I think it is so refreshing that this blog focuses on style -lasting and original - and not on fashion trends. If you live in suburban America, you realize how important and refreshing individual style is. The girl's confidence on interpreting her personality into clothes is great.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:00 PM) : 

Thank you for this photograph, and the others like it which you've posted. I've never actually been moved to comment here, before now.

But, I applaud your ability to see how for some (by no means all) gender is a much a variable element of style as the shirt on one's back. There are some amazingly fashionable figures both comptemporarily and historically who have pulled off the less gendered look - it's lovely for those of us who'd like to do the same to have a space for this dialogue... or maybe to find a few role models!

Although, it makes me a bit melancholy to realize how brave or daring a thing this was for you to post. Bravo Sart!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:06 PM) : 

Hmmm. That being said, self-expression is not always a good thing.


Blogger Frogette said ... (7:23 PM) : 

This comment has been removed by the author.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:23 PM) : 

and that is why I read your blog every day. Thank you, Sart!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:30 PM) : 

She is ferocious, absolutement! I love how she rocks the calf with the boots, one of a woman's most sexy body parts, forget cleavage. Pencil skirt and platforms or knickers and combat boots, whatevs.
For those of you that don't really get it? The mall is 2 miles east of wherever you are. Enjoy.


Blogger Amy Kim Kibuishi said ... (7:31 PM) : 

I love this post. Thank you. :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:42 PM) : 

Let's take it a step further: Do gender roles matter at all?
She can DRESS the part,but is it ok if she ACTS the part as well?


Blogger tintin said ... (8:06 PM) : 

I can't tell. Does she shave her legs?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:12 PM) : 

Bravo to you, too, Sart.

If more people thought that fashion was about expressing one's personality in a price range reasonable to one's means instead of a showy, superficial method of highlighting one's assets in the marriage and business markets maybe more people would take it seriously.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:35 PM) : 

Of course fashion can be a creative form of self expression. But you can't deny the fact that this woman is fit and not overweight gives her a greater range for self expression. I love her look but would it be as alluring if she were about 15 - 20 pounds heavier with more curves? That's when the idea of fl;attering fashion comes into play.


Blogger Q said ... (8:45 PM) : 



Blogger Rebecca, A Clothes Horse said ... (8:55 PM) : 

I think fashion should be self-expression--even if that becomes a potato sack shaped dress. This lady has lovely style and her hat is wonderful.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:12 PM) : 

My two cents: I like it when people dress to express themselves, and please themselves, rather than the viewer. Sart, she looks great! I LOVE women in combat boots... most especially with Lucille Ball housedresses.


Blogger Françoise said ... (9:38 PM) : 

sart, i never thought in my life i'd like that look. well, i do. actually i take it back. it's not the look that i like, but the fact that she makes me want to know her. she's intriguing. i wonder what she was thinking while you were taking the pic.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:26 PM) : 

fashion is so subjective. different people look for and see different things in dress. for me, as it appears it is for you, it's about artistic expression and creativity - what one can do with line, shape, color in order to evoke an aesthetic response, or provoke thought. the answers about how this can be done well or most effectively will be as different in fashion as they will in the art world. i like the combination of shapes and colors here, but they don't draw my eye or inspire me the way something else would, but that's a response based on my visual value system.


Blogger b said ... (10:40 PM) : 

thanks for this great post sart!
i'm glad you highlighted the fact that style does not correspond to socially constructed gender ideals.


Blogger Carol Diehl said ... (10:53 PM) : 

I don't like anything she's wearing, yet I think she looks great! It made me realize just how tired I am of the cookie-cutter ultra-femme look: big metal-laden bag, stilettos, shiny lipstick, flippy straightened blond hair....somehow androgeny is so much sexier; it shows a certain confidence, like she knows she's sexy and doesn't have to advertise it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:03 PM) : 

Thank you for getting it, at least from I perspective that is so refreshing. This is why I so enjoy The Sartorialist.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:10 PM) : 

Her top speaks of first grade and the pants and boots and stance speak of tough little boy on the playground. It's a bit precious and faux--clearly she's not going to actually withstand any assault.
And she's not sexual, or perhaps pre-sexual, like a small child.

Why a woman would chose to adopt the manner and pose of a child is an interesting question, but she's not that interesting.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:40 PM) : 

Individually the pieces are fine, collectively - they don't do a thing for me! Do I hate this outfit? No! Do I like it? No, but I totally get your point!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:19 AM) : 

"Clothing only needs to keep you protected from the elements, past that what you do with them is your option. "

C'mon--really? Who are we kidding. Functionality--especially when it comes to warmth and comfort--is the first thing thrown out the window by most designers and devotees of women's fashion. I would love to see more looks up here that I could actually make work for my workday--which includes commuting a mile in variable east coast weather, and constantly moving between buildings and across quads on a college campus.


Blogger Kristen said ... (1:12 AM) : 

this picture for me was a great jump off from your comment the other day about how we should take bits and pieces from the photos to inspire our own style and expression.

i don't love the overall look - but I DO love the pants. with a deep and abiding love.

thanks sart.


Blogger onegiantpanda said ... (1:49 AM) : 

I love you :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:15 AM) : 

Dear Sart
It's your great eye Sart that makes this photo. Without your composition, this person would be wallpaper. She would come across as a formless box. Nothing about her would draw an ounce of attention or make any kind of a impact on an environment. Yes it's interesting look, but only in the way student films are interesting. The kind of thing you would watch only if you were forced to watch.

She simply does not look good.

On the other hand I do see the inspiration appeal. I think I can crib her colour combination and composition at hand. A similar patterned basic dress shirt, a pair of light grey wool pants, less ornate boots, and top with a double brested peacoat and you've got a very polished look.


Blogger Ann Regentin said ... (2:31 AM) : 

I've been reading this blog for months but have never commented before. This woman inspires me to comment.

I think it's great. She looks comfortable and striking.

She is disturbing in part, I think, because so much of how we interact with each other begins with gender. Until we know if she's a boy or a girl, we don't even know whether or how to make eye contact with her as we pass her on the street, much less how firmly to shake her hand if we're introduced. It's uncomfortable.

She is also eschewing that supposedly fundamental feminine tendency to dress to attract men, which calls into question how fundamental it really is.

Again, a violation of gender assumptions, and done with considerable panache. Others who do this end up looking like slobs. She doesn't. She looks fantastic.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:32 AM) : 

I'm too lazy to read all the comments, but I tremendously enjoy how she has, in her own way, feminized a masculine style, made it her own.

I wish more people felt brave enough to play with convention. I think, as much as it may be her personal style, it's a challenge to us too.

Bravo to you, Sart. This has brightened my night.


Blogger sarah said ... (2:40 AM) : 

Questioning assumptions about dressing to societally dictated standards of masculinity and femininity is a good thing. In my opinion, it is always more attractive to see authentic self-expression in modes of dress rather than a reflection of what society's expectations are based on gender.


Blogger Pistachio Of Liberty said ... (3:11 AM) : 

Just to weigh in on the side of the "intellectual" element and "aesthetic" here. Perhaps I am misunderstanding the word to suggest judgement and interpretation. i.e. this definition: a philosophical theory as to what is beautiful; "he despised the esthetic of minimalism" (so maybe "philosophical' might be more exact that "intellectual" though I think both are applicable). It's just odd to hear outright that something simply fails aesthetically, when it is the particular aesthetic that you do not favor. No? I dunno.

It just seems so obvious that people dress to mostly attract or gain acceptance from likeminded people. It's plumage. "Look, here I am! That lefty-ish person you could go to art shows with who will get your great references to Goddard? Yeah - that's me" or, "Hey! You! Looking for people to hang out with who can talk Dow Jones and golf? Check me out in my khakis!"

That said, people can always stand to great to widen their circle which is why I like to mix it up. And so I love these slightly curveball ensembles that fail to fall unquestionably into one category or another. In the case of this post, the theme is obviously "sub" rather than mainstream culture - but the cool thing is she is not a cliche. That's the sad thing; when you see people rebelling by wearing the uniforms of rebellion (which of course makes them a cliche).

This chick rox.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:21 AM) : 

To me, this type of "intellectual dressing" is a huge waste of time. Wouldn't someone who puts an excessive amount of effort into looking intellectual be better served by doing something actually intellectual? Glamour, grace, creativity, simplicity, decadence or breezy effortlessness ... this is what fashion should be about.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:46 AM) : 

YAY! this is why i love you sart. to those whom the fact that she looks androgynous is a turn-off - does the way a person ALWAYS need to be sexually appealling? my sexuality is just one aspect of my personality, and i have other facets that i sometimes am in the mood to emphasize more (or less, as the case may be).


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:11 AM) : 

I like the way clothes can act as a filter, how what you choose to wear can draw certain people to you and "repel" others.

It's almost heroic to see a person who doesn't necessarily dress to please the crowd, who, by creating a little visual unease (because we can't "read" her instantly)ay, gets a real dialog going!


Blogger Vistiendo a Candela said ... (5:39 AM) : 

I think that is fashion, why not?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:54 AM) : 

Once again you gave me new insight about dressing, style and fashion. Clothes really need to do one thing, keeping us from the elements, and all else is up to us...
A good reminder to limit our narrowsighted views, than you!!


Blogger Nor said ... (8:08 AM) : 

In total agreeance, you are my hero.


Blogger Butch said ... (8:32 AM) : 

Think of the thought--the calculation--that went into this seemingly spontaneously assembled outfit!



Blogger Butch said ... (8:34 AM) : 

PS, of course this is fashion: woud she look this way if the year were 1890?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:08 AM) : 

I think oftentimes people are very focused on what to them is 'for males' and what is 'for females,' so to speak. The strict biological gender divide is quite ridiculous.

Wonderful post.


Blogger Pret a Porter P said ... (10:27 AM) : 



Blogger deswotans said ... (10:38 AM) : 

Perhaps this is another chapter in the debate of fashion vs. style?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:52 AM) : 

Where did she get the shoes? Or who has similar shoes this year? A big thanks for any tip.


Blogger Ashe said ... (11:02 AM) : 

In response to M-- what about Eddie Izzard? As a performer, he constantly wears heels, make-up, and often pairs them with a suit. He's completely playing the opposite way, by playing down his masculinity.

Hell, basically what M is describing, in terms of clothing, would really be a drag queen.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:03 AM) : 

when you mentioned men who would dress in an effeminate manner, J-rockers come to mind; X-Japan, the early L'Arc~en~Ciel, Gackt. In fact, the artistes and the style are worshiped till this day. Not trying to put you out, just a thought which came naturally. I confess I am a J-rock fan, more for the music, not so much the style.

brazilian girl #7,
I, like u, aren't attracted to the style. However, I think what the post was trying to portray was a kind of attitude and bravery towards fashion and style; not so much the "beauty". Although, beauty is often nothing but an opinion.

I applaud the girl in the photo, and for Sart for putting it up and giving me another inspiration towards style.



Blogger momo said ... (11:32 AM) : 

This kind of post is one of the reasons that I have your blog is in my blogroll under "Inspiration"--It's not just the marvelous photos, but the eye and the open and generous mind that inspire me.


Blogger Unknown said ... (11:44 AM) : 

I'm not sure that I would call it fashion, but it is surely an amazing expression of a self-image through design.
To me she is almost art!

Casper Odschild


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:08 PM) : 

I'm surprised that more of you don't understand Lesbian fashion when you see it. This girl is wearing Haute Dyke, and I mean that as the highest compliment. She does it well, and it's a gorgeous photo. And she is not an anomoly.

And,no, I don't know this girl, or even know for sure what her sexuality is. But she's definatly dressing in a style created by Lesbian Culture.

Just go hang out where the Lesbians are, and I don't mean "the L Word" in which the so called Lesbians dress like hollywood stars. Oh - they are hollywood stars. Sorry.

Check out photos by Joan E. Biren, Catherine Opie, Tee Corrinne.

Gender is what you make of it. Different sub cultures (including high fashion) have their own standards and goals for clothing.

It's just that most cultures are hidden until someone figures out a way to make a profit on them


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:28 PM) : 

Sart - you said "I often see women in New York that look like the woman in this post but she has executed the look so much better "

This is interesting! Please say more. What makes this so much better?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:56 PM) : 

I just love her style... Its so androgyne..great!!! love it!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:58 PM) : 

Thank you, Seirin, for clearing that up for me. :) It's just that I believe in trying to reach Harmony in Proportion, Collor and Shape however and wherever if it will meet the eye... Because all the adjectives being given are a matter of opinnion: "looks feminine, masculine, whatever..." But good proportion is not opinion, is math and putting them together in a certain context and getting it right is Art: So having your own Style, in Fashion, makes it great Art. And then if you can make it look 'effortless' (even if you put lots of effort in it), 'graceful' (even if it's a masculine butch look) and if it brings 'dignity' to mankind it can get a lot more points. And if it's Green it wins my heart. :p
But i do get what you guys mean. Just don't agree with most of it i guess. LOVE the blog!!!!!!!!!!


Blogger Alejandra Seijas-Fotógrafa said ... (1:23 PM) : 

I like this girl?, Yes is very androgyne


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:48 PM) : 

This is indeed the outfit of a creative individual who is not being constraint by the latest fashion. I would find it interesting to talk to her over a beer or a cup of coffee than some fluffy fashionista.

I know that there are plenty of women who have to have the new "it" handbag, shoes etc. Do they really know that they are following a trend like sheep. Please read the excellent op-ed by Dana Thomas in today's NY Times on this very subject. (the link is below)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:55 PM) : 

Femininity (and masculinity too) comes from the inside. Clothes only help you show it (the way you want to). At least that is how I see it. I like the photo, and if she doesn't mind being sexually ambiguous then why should anyone be offended? Good for her, I guess.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:26 PM) : 

The boots are Army Tanker Boots.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:37 PM) : 

funny. the first thing I saw when I looked at this picture was her beautiful face. she is a very beautiful woman. with a fragile face. and a strong look in her eyes.


Blogger marlys said ... (3:37 PM) : 

Anonymous 1:03 said...

"I enjoy your blog so much more when you comment on your pictures (like you did for this one)."

I second that! I adore your photos, Sart. And/but I am often disappointed by the comments - too often, peoples' love it/hate attitudes do not remotely live up to the subtlety of your images.

Your writing gives the dialogue a much needed kick in the pants (so to speak). As evidenced here, when you describe what you see, the ensuing discussion is far more interesting.

Glad to hear there will be more of it in December!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:23 PM) : 

What is style, what is fashion? Dressing in a way that makes you feel good is all that matters.... and the girl's expression, so cool and confident, surpasses any flimsy standard of "fashion" or "style". Reminds me of Woolf's philosophy about being yourself...


Blogger Lea said ... (4:39 PM) : 

awesome post! i love the variety of comments it has brought on!!!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:49 PM) : 

Good for her! so what if she's "trying to be different" or "wants attention" or "saying look at me!" So we're all supposed to wear identical, tasteful, gender-"appropriate" outfits that don't make us stand out? Fie on that. As for looking good, is that code for "I wouldn't shag this person"? Lame. Thanks again Sart.


Blogger Mai said ... (5:20 PM) : 

i give big props for form and self expression. she has both in spades.


Blogger Unknown said ... (6:06 PM) : 

Dear Scott,

I've always admired your work as a photographer but during the time
I've been reading your blog, I've come to admire your sensitivity to
discuss fashion. Being a fashion student I'm facinated by the way
people relate with clothes and I've become a natural observer.
However, when I see your photographs and read your thoughts on them, I
realize what it really means to work with fashion and to understand


Blogger Meg said ... (7:02 PM) : 

I love this gal's look. I'm bisexual, femme, and I dress fairly conventionally. But I struggled for years with how to dress to let women know I was queer, yet stay true to my femme self in not just choosing the standard dyke uniform (which would include cutting off all my hair).

If she were wearing jeans and a t-shirt I would probably not look twice at her. But in this outfit, she conveys to me that (a) she's likely queer, and (b) she's smokin' hot. Why? Because of her attitude, her raw gutsiness, and the fact that she doesn't shave her legs (I think; slightly hard to tell) -- which is SUCH a huge taboo in our culture. I agree with Lizzy...she's high fashion in the queer fashion world. I love it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:21 PM) : 

Very well said. Bravo to you too!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:03 PM) : 

While your observation provides for a cogent argument, society dictates an entirely different set of logic.

Women are cherished as objects of beauty. As such, women should dress in a manner that enhances said beauty.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:26 PM) : 

I'm a philosophy student from holland, and although I first started visiting this blog to get some inspiration on what to wear, I find the beliefs and opinions on style, fashion, and through those views the truths people hold about more abstract things as gender and politics have inspired me as well. For me this is realy interesting paper material.

(p.s. really cool to read someone somewhere is reading de Beauvoir too :P)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:27 AM) : 

"Women are cherished as objects of beauty. As such, women should dress in a manner that enhances said beauty."

You've just reduced women to objects of desire. Why? Because they should be by nature? I wish this kind of attitude would disappear.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:49 AM) : 

If you're willing to accept clothing as a medium of self-expression like any other, why not praise the quality of execution or expressive power in addition to praising the subject matter? A girl may want to dress in a way that draws attention from men one day, and in a way that draws attention from women or purely aesthetic types another day. If she does both well, with skill and originality, she deserves both notice and praise, in my opinion. After all, we don't love van Gogh because he painted flowers. We love him because he painted them so expressively.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:52 AM) : 

If you're willing to accept clothing as a medium of self-expression like any other, why not praise the quality of execution or expressive power in addition to praising the subject matter? A girl may want to dress in a way that draws attention from men one day, and in a way that draws attention from women or purely aesthetic types another day. If she does both well, with skill and originality, she deserves both notice and praise, in my opinion. After all, we don't love van Gogh because he painted flowers. We love him because he painted them so expressively.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:28 AM) : 

For anyone who says she does not look "her best," or that they prefer her to look more "beautiful" or "feminine" consider this: In my high school, you wore abercrombie polo shirts and pleated skirts to get the football players. But does everyone want to date a football player? Heck no! She is not dressing to impress the typical person. Whoever snags her will be a very unique guy :)


Blogger Unknown said ... (5:08 AM) : 

to fashion:
To adapt, as to a purpose or an occasion; accommodate.

a way of doing, and a way of being done

What we alternatively refer to as fashion and style is something that refers to both the individual each of us is, and our role in the society and culture (collective) in which we live.

In fashion, there are individualists, and there are collectivists. Leaders and followers, trendsetters and trendfollowers, the cool and merely hip.

If you identify yourself strongly with your sexe, then you will seek to express your femininity/masculinity in your choice of clothes (as well as pretty much everywhere else.) If your identity is about more than that, then you get this sort of thing.

There are very very few people who express their own sexuality in their own fashion (verb). Notice that girly girls in super sexy clothes usually will wear something outrageous designed for them/their type... by a man.

etc etc :)


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (5:54 AM) : 

her name is Oscar...she used to hang out at a bar in my neighborhood, and she's very cool.
Here's a write up about her in New York Magazine...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:49 AM) : 

i've got to say, as much as we insist that prince and david bowie are hot, most people would do a double take on effeminately dressed men and not in a good way. it's much more acceptable for a woman to have hints of androgyny than a man. say, a female teacher comes to school with a well tailored suit and a tie. no one would think twice about it. what if a male teacher had so much as long hair and groomed eyebrows? people would probably talk behind his back.


Blogger cat said ... (7:00 AM) : 

I love this, every bit of it, including the originality of the Sartorialist in moving away from a prescriptive concept of gender. You've done this for age, including some fabulous older fashinistas and I like pushing the gender boundaries too. More, more! And thank you, as always, for your fabulous eye. I check out Sartorialist with my morning coffee--a great way to start the day.


Blogger Unknown said ... (11:41 AM) : 

i think its a great example of street style and many details from this look can be developed and made into something quite intresting. but thats just my view of her.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:22 PM) : 

Personally, It's always a struggle to differentiate between what I actually like, and what I like simply because it's flattering to me in a traditional sense. I think she's years ahead of her time in terms of self-expression. Frankly, I'm tired of blatantly gendered images. I think as consumers we need to start showing the fashion industry that we are diverse.


Blogger Caroline Bingley said ... (2:46 PM) : 

It appears that trendiness has not enslaved her. However, someone who sports Fiorentini and Baker boots is certainly hip to fashion.

Perhaps this would not be her liking, but a brown wool turtleneck would be a fantastic top for that outfit...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:11 PM) : 

I love this and it is exactly why I look at your blog daily! thank you for NOT being vogue or bazaar.


Blogger Style Bite said ... (5:37 PM) : 

I hate that we feel it necessary to pigeon hole people by categorizing them with the dichotomy of male or female, black or white, tall or short, fat or skinny. I LOVE this post. You really expressed some things that need to be said, especially in the realm of fashion where clothing is often times misunderstood as more of a description than a form of expression. half the world fits into categories that don't exist. I'm glad you brought this woman's form of self expression into light.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (7:22 PM) : 

After reading the LookBook interview with her, she's far less interesting than she is in the photo here. We project, we project. And since the Sartorialist only posts those photos he deems worthy, we naturally see merit in the subjects of those photos, while knowing nothing about these people.

There's less here than meets the eye--she's got a Friendster page, for godssake.


Blogger tintin said ... (7:33 PM) : 

I just read the article about Oskar. Homeless in NYC after her bible belt parents from GA turned their backs on her. It broke my heart because I know people like her parents. You can't choose to be gay or straight. Why would anyone "choose" to have their parents disown them? As much as I like women... so does Oskar. And that is not a voluntary emotion. Still, I think she'd look pretty damned hot in a Chanel suit.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:45 PM) : 

Bravo for showing this style! I agree and besides, how much of the “form and femininity” argument is to flatter a figure for the sake of masculine approval? (It isn’t always, but I think it sometimes is.) I quite agree with Natasha in the early part of the comments above.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:30 PM) : 

She looks amazing. in attitude, style and attractiveness. i can't believe people don't agree!


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:01 PM) : 

I absolutely agree with you 100%. Personally, I find androgyny to be very appealing, especially with today's standard of appearance.

Well done!! By the way, when are you going to update your other sections? It is fall 2007 now, after all.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:19 PM) : 

"she's got a Friendster page, for godssake."

What is that suppose to mean?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:55 PM) : 

I'm glad Lizzy finally brought up the wonderful phenomenon of dyke style. Thank you. Nobody seemed to be cluing in.


Blogger Pistachio Of Liberty said ... (11:58 PM) : 

Heh. So I also just read Oskar Tarplee's interview and I agree, she is not ready for James Lipton - but, she's - how old? I think at her age I was about as interesting [probably less]. I am not saying there aren't those in their 20s who ARE interesting, but when it comes to fashion, it's enough to look good and inspire, rather to accurately articulate one's "vision".

Let's hope when she hits that fork in the road where she decides who she wants to be, she'll opt to take advantage of her wonderful instincts toward uniqueness and escape being the self-obsessed shallow fashionista cliche. Like maybe a ... Kenneth Cole? Sorry, the best example I have of someone who sought more meaning from the industry than satisfying vanity.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:46 AM) : 

jesus. have you people never seen a baby dyke before? they all dress like that. the only unusual thing about her is that she's so skinny and gaunt looking.


Blogger 975089 said ... (6:51 AM) : 

the double breasted shirt is great

part of the reason why it all works so well is that she looks so COMFORTABLE


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:37 PM) : 

Interestingly enough, when I first looked at this picture (another brilliant one, I might add) I immediately saw a very stylish girl with attitude, dressing for herself. Maybe it's the way she's standing and the slight tilt of her head and stare that seem to say, "Yes, I'm wearing this and what do you have to say about it."

I love the outfit, which does not seem random to me at all.

When I looked at the picture again, I realized this could easily be an equally stylsh boy, Although I still feel it's a girl; the fact is it doesn't matter.

I am 5 ft. 10 ins. and a curvy size 6 that sometimes hates my curvy, life-time-of-tennis-induced-thighs. I sometimes dress in baggy clothes, unisex or "masculine" biker boots, etc. because I just want a break and to look different when the mood strikes me. Since I'm not one for mcuh makeup except eyeliner and lip gloss, I guess it suits me.

I must say I sometimes disdain women who seem to only dress for certain type of men in crotch-skimming dresses and skirts, plunging necklines and six-inch heels as if that's all women are about. Mostly , I just find it a bit sad.

But then again -- to each his own!

Sorry for making my response so personal, but I had a very visceral reaction to your post and many of the comments made about it.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:17 PM) : 

NO, NO, NO. She is an almost there but not really...
her face looks bored and sad at the same time.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:57 PM) : 

OK, Sart. It's time you woke up to the world of Queer fashion. Women dressing for each other. Men dressing for each other. Or, heaven forfend, people who claim neither gender.

There are now decades of Queer fashion, and yet you and most of your readers cannot see it. It would be amusing if it weren't so sad. Because when your eye does rest on a bit of Queer Culture, you think it's some fascinating anomoly. And it's not. It's just that your brain doesn't register what your eye is seeing.

All it takes is a willingness to see and some effort to look beyond the borders of your own heteronormative world.

We are all over the place. Yet we remain invisible.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (9:53 AM) : 

One more thing I noticed about this photo which makes it so different from most of Sart's pix - her posture.

Most of the women in these pix stand so that their feet are not planted firmly on the ground. Either their toes are pointed inward (classic "I'm still a child" pose) or their weight is on one leg while the other one is bent at the knee, or the other leg is doing some kind of "I'm a girl" pose. Look over the range of images and you'll see what I mean.

In this photo the girl is standing with her weight equally distributed on both legs, no inward toe pointing. And her hands are in her pockets.

Stance says as much about us as our clothing. Posture is gendered, and learned.

I understand that most Sart readers are not particularly interested in the sociology of clothing, but if you start to look at these things, it can be rather illuminating.


Blogger Andrew said ... (12:17 PM) : 

You have beautifully expressed something worthwhile and true. In both words and pictures.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (1:42 AM) : 

I love this post. It's always good to reaffirm that personal expression through fashion can be as eloquent and diverse as our individual personalities.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:55 PM) : 

All I could think was that if the shirt had horizontal stripes she would look exactly like the Gumbies in the old Monty Python sketches.


Blogger Gina said ... (11:32 AM) : 

It is not "fashion", but it is style.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:20 AM) : 

i love this, its an expresion of individuality


Blogger Nora said ... (2:29 PM) : 

Responding very late to this post and interesting discussion. What fascinates me about her is not the masculine elements, but the edge of femininity (I can't imagine by butch GF wearing that blouse!) I'm a femme dyke, and would not feel like myself in this outfit (any more than I would in fashion-victim skyhigh heels and oversized trend bag) but LOVE "masculinity," for lack of another word, in other women. And femininity in men, for that matter. And creative self-expression in anyone.

This post reminded me a little of this post by the fabulous Erin aka Dress A Day:


Blogger Liza Cowan said ... (3:54 PM) : 

thanks for the link to Erin. Great post she wrote.

Wouldn't it be great if there were more queers posting here? Fashion is so queer, but somehow invisible to the otherwise faboo Sart.

Or else he thinks it's impolite to mention that someone's queer (?) as if it weren't a) important 2)a huge compliment and 3) policitally and culturally relevant.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (6:30 PM) : 

yes! bravo. dressing for oneself is for the soul, not the sex... unlesss the soul is the sex.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:55 AM) : 

While I thank the Sartorialist for including this image and generating this discussion, I'm really irked by the idea that this girl's style reflects asexuality--a style that is purely intellectual and divorced from bodies. So many of the comments here, even many of the positive ones, reflect the idea that her look is asexual, immature/childlike or purely intellectual and unaesthetic.

Why is it such a novelty that a woman's attractiveness and style is not necessarily tied to femininity? To me it seems obvious that this girl is not just wearing boyish clothing as a fashion statement, she is expressing her gender and sexuality. That sexuality may be strange or inscrutable to you, but don't assume that it isn't there, because it is.

As a queer woman who likes masculine and androgynous women, to me her look is highly sexual. The bold strangeness of the overall ensemble exudes confidence and a muted aggressiveness. (In addition, forearm tattoos have always been my favorite symbol of lesbian virility.)

As Nora above said, there are softer edges as well. She eschews not only traditional femininity but also butch lesbian fashion tropes. However, I think the focus exclusively on gender loses sight of any real style or erudition, for instance the choice to mix flat-soled biker boots with those tweed pants. And yet the conversation in these comments obsesses over her rejection of femininity, which is the least interesting aspect of her appearance.

When will the fashion industry wake up to the fact that there are many, many women out there who are masculine, androgynous, or otherwise not stereotypically feminine ALL THE TIME, not just as an occasional "statement"? That it's who we are, and not just a "look"? When will the fashion industry realize that the rejection of femininity is not synonymous with the rejection of aesthetics or sexuality?


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (4:25 AM) : 

She's actually the incredible and fantastic Oskar Tarplee. Amazing face and style. Keep fighting, Oskar. You're a pioneer and great inspiration.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:03 AM) : 

Actually, I know her whole family, and my wife was friends with "Oskar" all of her life, even for a short while after she left... she was never "dis-owned", or kicked out... she ran away and left of her own accord. That's not to say that there weren't issues, but aren't there issues in every family? Glad she's found some success, though, but not at the expense of her rather NON-Bible-belt family, who aren't even close to being fundamentalists, and didn't become Christians until later in her life.


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:47 AM) : 

Her boots remind me of the gothic subculture, particularly in cyber wear, and how boots like those are often paired with with clothes and make-up that imply femininity. Her knickers are masculine, but a masculine fashion that have at times been reclaimed by women sometimes paired with tights and heels. The patterning and cut of her shirt seems to suggest this 1950s housewife ensemble and the hat is just cute.


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