In the Name of Fashion

Avant-garde, Vogue Italia Sept 2011
Image from Vogue.it

There is a great deal of impracticality to be found in fashion. Problematic hemlines, constricting forms and patches of cloth barely held together by the flimsiest of straps. Corsets. The hobble skirt. Shutter shades. A misstep in spindly heels can land you a trip to the ER... no wonder "Suffer for Fashion" is an oft-repeated mantra amongst the fashionably inclined. Tiis-ganda in local parlance. Women since time immemorial are willing to risk arm, leg and sanity for the sake of an ever-changing concept of à la mode.

I often struggle with this myself. If it were only up to me I'd be clad in four inch wedge boots at all hours but my morning commute consists of an hour and a half of brisk walking and standing in cramped trains if I'm lucky. Technically I could, but then at the end of the day the balls of my feet feel like they're being assaulted by white hot metal rods. Nothing else says haute than that familiar stabbing sensation.

Then there's the issue of weather appropriate clothing. Unluckily for me I prefer A/W fits but live in the tropics. I can only dream of wrapping myself in the softest, chunkiest knits. I've pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I can never wear leather as long as I stay here. A blistered lamb Rick trapeze jacket may be one of the most iconic garments he has ever designed but the risk of heatstroke aint worth it (and it's not like I can afford one either). It's simply unbearable for my lifestyle. To Manila people who fearlessly wear leather jackets, tell me your secrets!

Grace Coddington and Tonne Goodman keeping it real 
Image from Jak&Jil

Streetstyle photos of fashion editors make it seem like wearing the tiniest of skirts and the tallest of heels a walk in the park. I sometimes catch myself thinking that if I could only wear what they wear and realize that their lives and mine could not be any more different. They probably get around town in chauffeured cars and live in temperate cities. Muggers and walking through shady streets are the last things on their minds. And that's the crux really. Fashion should follow your lifestyle, and not the other way around. The people we often see in streetstyle snaps aren't representative of the majority. Fashion designers are often out-of-touch with how ordinary people live. Most magazines mostly care about their advertisers and not their readers. It's fun to indulge in frivolous fashion trends once in a while, but it is up to us regular schmucks with the unfortunate attraction to beautiful, impractical clothing to merge the idea of how we want to dress ideally with what is feasible and fitting in our daily routines. 

Do you make any sacrifices for fashion? Is fashion even worth the discomfort in the first place? Thoughts?


  1. I know what you mean about living in the tropics and liking F/W clothing. I do try to buy clothes that suit my real vs imaginary life. The best pieces are the ones that combine practicality with fantasy (Rick Owens is really good at this).

    Most of the time I'm in practical clothing. Are heels as comfortable as flats? No. (Besides it's the standing not the walking that kills you). And I do have things that aren't the most practical. But I don't think I wear anything that's excruciatingly painful.

  2. I definitely agree with you !!

  3. I think that's one of the hardest lessons to learn: that your style and personal fashion bubble are limited by your lifestyle. I feel lucky that I'm able to wear almost anything I want to Uni everyday.

    One good thing about Rick is that he seems to release heat-friendly fabric versions of his leather alternatives. I think I need to push aside my love for his leather this Summer and start investing in those instead.

    While I won't be wearing 4 inch heels unless I can take less than 40 steps that day, I don't mind suffering a bit for fashion. I may not always have burning feet from high heels, but I don't mind putting my feet in boot infernos during Summer!

  4. I don't, maybe when I was in my teens but now I dress to feel myself which suits my lifestyle and influences. Still changing, but refining is probably the better word. I'm not afraid to try new things but not in such a way where I'd feel out of place in my own clothes. I love shoes but in reality I wear trainers most days for comfort, I cycle a lot so it doesn't work. If it's raining then it's a good pair of work boots and not Grenson brogues.

    Interesting post, you speak the truth which many would agree.

  5. really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this mika! it's something that has been at the back of my mind as well though you put it in words much better than i can. i'm definitely in the dress for your lifestyle camp - i'm lucky enough that i get to wear ripped jeans to work and even get away with thongs in summer. however it's also nice to fantasize; i do enjoy living vicariously through fashion week street style snaps and meticulously crafted editorials in magazines. it's a bit like art to me.. and maybe it's up to us normal people to translate this for the masses ;)

    steph / absolutely-fuzzy.com

  6. Nicely written and considered Mika. We all have our thresholds, I draw the line at blister inducing shoes and refuse to swelter. Nevertheless I often put up with some small discomfort because the payoff feels greater. As soon as I travel, this goes out the window and I dress for ease.

  7. This was a great post Mika. The older I get the less I'm willing to suffer for fashions sake, and I'm starting to prefer more comfy & practical pieces (shoes especially) - but then like Mia, I too am almost always in boots, even in the summer when my feet are burning up in them! I think that's a fair trade though, because my boots are still the comfiest for walking around all day, despite the sweaty-ness! I definitely do have a few totally impractical pieces though that are reserved solely for special occasions or when I will mostly be sitting down inside! ;)


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