Vivienne Westwood says, “You have a more interesting life when you wear impressive clothes.” Now, Westwood is an old British fashion designer, known for bringing punk clothing into the mainstream, so on the one hand, she would think this. On the other hand…I dunno if it’s true, but it sure feels true.
Maybe the part that needs teasing out is what do we mean by impressive? Webster’s Dictionary tells us that impress means “to apply pressure so as to imprint,” which is actually kind of accurate. People we are attracted to get sort of imprinted in our heads, like an afterimage that we carry around. I am not sure how being noticed and remembered by other people leads to an interesting life, and I also recall that “may you live in interesting times” is a curse in a few cultures. But being relatively invisible does lead to a less interesting life, so let’s assume she is right.
Dashing Owl is Dashing
Having always previously thought of clothing as a way
To keep warm and unembarrassed, having always
Considered the idea of using uncomfortable clothes to attract
A man to be ridiculous, patriarchal and based only
On the law of the jungle, which I never comprehended,
I suddenly find myself reexamining the idea of style.
Nature is teeming with style. Just look around. Is it
Superficial, a coating on the outside that hides the truth
Of the inside, like the blue that makes the robin’s egg seem
Like a stone? But that blue egg hides the baby robin, so
This is a kind of protective coloration, as the chameleon
Embraces his possibly hostile environment with such
Fierceness, predators can’t even see him. But what about
The opposite, the birds who need not even open their beaks
To proclaim who they are? Parakeets imitate the jungle
Flowers, and peacocks preen their rainbow bodies, spread out
Their brocade mantles to win the peahens: their attention,
Their approval, their love—things that all of us want.
Finally, I am learning to dress to win my own attention,
To carry an image of my variegated self, so I will know
My own true value, approve, then shoot my cuffs.