Monday, September 8, 2008

Art in the Heart, Dirt in the Skirt:It's So You edited by Michelle Tea

I like to let the city dress me up in its love. I know it's a good day when I leave my house and by the time I come back I'm wearing a completely different and more bizarre outfit.~Rhiannon Argo, "Art in the Heart, Dirt in the Skirt"

I'm not a very good book blogger. Sometimes, I don't want to writeitssoyou something meaningful--I just want to thrust It's So You: 35 Women Write About Personal Expression Through Fashion and Style in your hands and say "Read it! It's amazing! There's clothes and feminism and it's happy and soulful and incredibly queer friendly. There's a girl with bee shoes and a butch pinup paper doll and and grandmother with a marshmallow dress and Proustian memories of red lipstick and dressing to rock your own fucking world."

This is one of those times.

[My grandmother] loved every detail of dressing herself, and she instilled in me what she considered the important rules of fashion: Don't dress like everyone else; dress to make yourself happy; and once in a while enter your own fantastical world where it's perfectly normal to wear plastic and newspaper...I spent many days fashioning my own creations under her direction--a skirt made into a beehive, complete with beaded bees attached by coil springs, a pair of pants covered with little plastic rabbits and trees, and a long tube dress covered with fuzz to resemble a caterpillar. When I wasn't dressed as part of another world, I wore a sometimes-dizzying array of mismatched colors, prints, and textures.~Debbie Rasmussen, "My Grandma's Attic: Dressing Up and Acting Out"

I've noticed that Michelle Tea picks writers like herself: raw, experimental, but not without humor and quirks of personality. They have dizzying highs and heartbreaking lows and every experience in between, feverish to get the most out of life and living, to make sense of their pasts, to see beauty in ugly things and vice versa.  There are artists, models, many writers, witches, urban professionals, a psychic, a fashion designer, from every creed, color, social strata and gender expression. And the clothes! Oh, the clothes--pink Mode Merr girdles trimmed in rhinestone, a crushed velvet babydoll dress to wear to your first Ani DiFranco concert, a Hawaiian barkcloth dress, and it goes on, with a lot of love for thrift/vintage/DIY style. But more than just personal sartorial histories, each essay meditates on personal style as expression through a feminist lens. It's smart, incredibly readable, and wholly inspiring, just like Michelle Tea herself. So much love, so highly recommended.

Maybe fashion is our way of marking our evolution. I am wearing what I am wearing to help you know who I am and who you are looking at looking at, and most of all, who is looking back. ~Jill Soloway, "Look at Me"


Penny Lane said...

Oh thank god. A mix of both feminism and fashion without being totally cliche and contradicting. I believe i shall go and pick this one up RIGHT NOW.

Thank you dahling!

Molly Ren said...

"There's a girl with bee shoes and a butch pinup paper doll and and grandmother with a marshmallow dress and Proustian memories of red lipstick and dressing to rock your own fucking world"

How the heck is this not meaningful? Telling me stuff like that is the best way to get me to read a book right away!

Thanks for the fan mail, by the way. I don't get letters like that very often!

carey said...

oh, that sounds so good.

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