Because you can't have depths without surfaces.
Linda Grant, thinking about clothes, books and other matters.

Friday, 30 November 2007

How we dress in London, and LA

Emma Forrest, writing in the Guardian observes, of her return to London after a year in LA:

Riding the tube again, I feel intimidated by your outfits. You British ladies wear high heels with knee socks, pencil skirts and complicated makeup. During the day! After a year as an Angeleno I've figured out where Posh is going wrong. She looks out of place because you just don't wear fancy outfits during the day in LA, especially if you're as ambitious as she is. Dressing down implies that dressing up is a facet of your job, at which you are incredibly successful. So much so that come the awards season you are up to your ears in Valentino sheaths and are therefore relieved - no, delighted - to wear nothing but terry towel the rest of the year. Dressing up outside the context of a party/ceremony/gala suggests you need to invent your own reason to dress up because people aren't rewarding you.
It is my observation that we dress better in London than in the US, where clothes are both more casual and more conservative.

But Emma goes on to quote . . .
. . . LA actress Rose McGowan [who] thinks "that tired old cliche, 'Everyone in Los Angeles dresses down', is just that. A cliche. What people who aren't in the public eye don't understand is that you need armour, and clothing, hair and makeup can protect you against the world."
A crucial observation. In London, this vast, complicated, chaotic city, clothes are also your armour. Two fashion editors told me recently that they loved Alexander McQueen because his clothes felt like armour; they were a carapace. They felt they could do battle with their bosses in them. The rich and powerful don't need armour. Look at how Bill Gates dresses.


Deja Pseu said...

As an Angeleno (transplant from San Francisco area for the last 15 years), I wish most of the rest of us dressed half as well as Bill Gates. It's rather disheartening to go to a nice (read: expensive) restaurant for a night out and see others dressed in shorts and t-shirts.

SomewhereNearDC said...

Here in the vicinity of the Capital of the Free World, the dress code is usually formal, conservative, and often dull, although some people are trying to make things a bit more stylish. Kind of tricky to do, at least for those in the public eye- look what happened when Hillary Clinton dropped her neckline a bit!

htwollin said...

Every region of the country has its own "dress cuture" - New York City is, on the one hand a "fashion capital", yet I end up seeing a lot of black pant suits out there, which to me connotes either an extreme level of lack of fashion confidence or laziness. The South and West tend toward more casual dress, but a lot of that has to do with temperatures and weather. Even in New York in the summer, you get much more casual dress because it can be in the 90s and with high humidity.
But again, we must never forget that "business casual" was an invention of a blue jean manufacturer in the early 90s -- business dress all over the US has sunk ever since, though there has been some efforts made in place like New York to spiff things up a bit.

Anonymous said...

Bill Gates is a man (LOL) as is Steve Jobs (both non coiffed examples) ....and sadly men don't have to deal w/ many of the stereotypes that come along w/ appearance and grooming in the realm of being viewed as successful and/or intelligent.


Chaser said...

I'm an Angeleno, too, and find dress varies a lot by where you are in LA.