THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN “HAUTE CASUAL” & "LAZY BORING"
What’s getting lost when I get dressed in the morning?
The attainability of certain minimalistic outfits is relatively within reach for the majority of us — I am talking about us affluent, self-aware fashion-thinkers who read blogs (such as this one) and who have resonable disposable income (enough to make a dolla-dolla-bill shower happen, impromptu).
That got me thinking about the “magic” that gets lost in translation between the intention of putting together a bangerz outfit (refined-casual, understated, simple, smokin’) and ending up with something that misses the mark (frumpy, bland, shapeless, 12 year old boy). Yes, tailoring, cuts and proportions factor into that magic. But by virtue of being human, and by virtue of humans being unable to perform magic, something else must be afoot! How can some people look so goshdarn polished and effortless all at once? How do they capture that oxymoron? I want in!
This phenomenon is exactly like what visual artists experience in the process of creating their works. Marcel Duchamp called the gap between the intention (I want to paint a dog) and the execution (the dog looks a bit more like a horse, shit.) "the art coefficient”:
"In the creative act, the artist goes from intention to realization through a chain of totally subjective reactions. His struggle toward the realization is a series of efforts, pains, satisfaction, refusals, decisions, which also cannot and must not be fully self-conscious, at least on the esthetic plane.
The result of this struggle is a difference between the intention and its realization, a difference which the artist is not aware of.
Consequently, in the chain of reactions accompanying the creative act, a link is missing. This gap, representing the inability of the artist to express fully his intention, this difference between what he intended to realize and did realize, is the personal ‘art coefficient’ contained in the work.”
I would like to propose that there’s a fashion coefficient. Wouldn’t you agree? Out of The Bag sums it up perfectly here:
"I aspired to this type of casual for ages (I don’t think one is better than the other by the way!) until I realised I was never going to attain it, because heels are out of my vocabulary, among other things. This look is characterised by heels, a small and expensive bag (or none at all), impeccable tailoring, subtly sleek make-up and great hair. Blazers are often draped over the shoulders. Something shiny adorns the fingers and wrists. (There’s also Haute Tomboy and Haute Hippie Casual but my brain isn’t willing to go there now.)
“Normal casual” is what the rest of us wear. On model types, it still looks like haute casual but if it’s on a regular person and not artfully photographed, it’s not especially eye-catching. For one, a lot of the oomph is removed once the heels are out of the equation. Also I carry not just one bag, but often two bags because I tote work things plus yoga gear and lunch from home with me.
My admiration for the former has made for some poor shopping and dressing decisions. Because I think I am going to look one way but the reality is different because my lifestyle compels me to make little tweaks that fundamentally shift the look to something else altogether. So keeping these distinctions in mind has helped me be a bit more realistic when I’m shopping or swayed by a great look on Tumblr.”
So perhaps, what I am hoping to attain cannot be realized. My ripped boyfriend jeans make me look like I’m distressed from being dumped too many times, not artfully nonchalant! My oversized wool sweater makes me look like I dove into my grandmother’s yarn pile, not like a chalet snowbunny sexpot! Let’s not even talk about my worn penny loafers :-( It’s too painful. Perhaps the outfits that I pin are just that — snapshots that make that outfit look perfect… but only in that moment. What would you say I should do to lower the fashion coefficient? Aim lower?? What say you!
Full Marcel Duchamp article here. Ph. Death by Elocution, Just Jared, etc.