2/12/09

THE ENIGMA OF "SLOPPY CHIC."


Zoey Kravitz : follower of "sloppy chic." 
In my French class there is this one guy that always looks very put together.  His style is simple: black rimmed glasses, a nice v-neck sweater with an oxford underneath, and dark denim jeans. One day I noticed something peculiar when he got up from his desk; his dress shoes appeared to be talking.  The soles of his shoes were so worn out that they were partially detached and when he walked they flapped up and down in rhythm with his stride.  The sight of these shoes left me puzzled.  It was not possible to overlook soles that loose and therefore the guy's decision to wear those shoes was most likely  intentional.  But why?
Sights like talking shoes are surely not an idiosyncrasy.  It is common to see women dressed in haphazardly arranged clothes filled with holes and shoes that are so dirty and worn in that it looks like the owner has walked through the Sahara dessert in them.  We now buy any item and intentionally mistreat it anticipating its artful ruin and "stylish" decomposition.  1,400 dollar YSL Muse bags are bought only to be neglectfully strewn onto the dirty classroom floor in order to achieve that perfect "worn in look."  We are now able to buy everything in a distressed or aged version from shirts to leather bags.  Whatever happened to patiently waiting for the beautiful and gradual darkening of brown leather that  tells the  history of a bag?  Instead we buy a contrived replica of this process in any store. 

Audrey Hepburn: the antithesis of "sloppy chic."  

This idea of "sloppy chic" wasn't always part of our culture.  Not too many years ago the sight of hole ridden clothes, unkempt hair, and excessively baggy clothing would have appalled women who would not be seen in pants in a public place.  During this time elegant clothes were still considered a luxury.  Events that we take for granted today such as travel were an elaborate affair filled with immaculate attire, trunks, and luggage.  This is a stark juxtaposition from the proclivity of sweatpants clad travelers that we see in airports today.    
So why has "sloppy chic" become such a norm today?  I believe this backlash against a more polished way of dressing stems from the complete lack of appreciation of luxury.  Simple but special items such as a perfectly tailored dress or constructed shoe made of the richest leather are marginalized due to people that constantly seek something novel without treasuring what is timeless. This lack of respect for clothes allows the mistreating of clothing to become completely acceptable.  

Sloppy dressing has become part of the relentless attempt to appear unique. Elegant dressing has been wrongly associated with pomposity, conformity, and inauthenticity. To escape these connotations people flock toward the sloppy end of the spectrum.The amount of people trying to achieve this disheveled look ultimately leads to the same unoriginality that sloppy chic followers are desperately trying to escape.. However, no one wants to admit that their beat up Balenciaga bag is the same as the one thousands of girls around the country carry.  

The movement towards sloppy chic is  one that reveals a great deal about the always changing aesthetics and values today.   Coco Chanel once said that "old clothes are like old friends" and I 'm sure you wouldn't treat an old friend like a piece of trash.  Or would you ? 

4 comments:

Ayo said...

Great blog! I'm definitely surprised myself at the unkemptness plague going around these days. But eventually it will fade, and then return in another decade or two, lol.

Ayo

Michelle. said...

thanks : ) , haha you're right, and I can't wait lol.

Anonymous said...

A highly contested topic... I actually have to disagree with you a bit. I do agree that its never good to look completely sloppy (like Zoey Kravitz - ugh), but I love the sentiment behind clothes that look, well, worn in. And while gaping holes in your shoes and damaged designer purses are certainly unfortunate style choices (and bad incarnations of well-loved garments), I think this "sloppy chic" idea can add a lot of depth and interest to an outfit.

Sure, Coco Chanel related old clothes to friends, but I feel like she means that on a much more emotional level rather than a physical one. Whenever I put on my oldest pair of jeans that I've worn for years and years, I remember all of the experiences associated with them. Each rip and fade tells a new story, reminding me of why I love the jeans so much. The same goes for a stretched out, pilled cashmere sweater that I always find myself coming back to even despite my newer, fresher ones.

Basically, I agree in that its never good to look like you're falling apart (Zoey appears this way because ALL of her pieces are "sloppy chic"). But one or two sentimental pieces can definitely add a good deal of uniqueness and personality, and can easily transform into a signature or favorite piece of your wardrobe.

Michelle. said...

It's interesting that you disagree with me when I share basically the same opinion as you on the topic. I do like some things worn in (such as the darkening of brown leather that I wrote about in my post). I also agree that they can add character to your wardrobe.

I do believe that Coco Chanel meant what she said on an emotional level (old clothes as representations of memories) but I think the quote can be interpreted on a more physical level as well. Something that brings back memories should be something you treasure and value in my opinion, but the quote can be interpreted in many ways.

This post is commenting on the extreme side of "sloppy chic". which is why I included only examples that I considered over the top. I don't consider ripped jeans or the cashmere sweater to be on the extreme side at all. Moderation is always the key.

Thanks for reading : ).