Estes-Vous Fashionista? Mais Oui!
If you have ever affected a British accent . . .
If you have ever spent a sleepless night worrying about the health of Marc Jacobs . . .
If you greet friends by kissing them on both cheeks (and you are not European) . . .
If you have ever sacrificed eating in order to shop . . .
If you have ever blown a paycheck on a pair of jeans . . .
If the only McCartney you are familiar with is Stella . . .
If your Visa bill is higher than your rent . . .
If you refer to designers by their first names in conversation (although you are not on a first-name basis with them) . . .
If you pester the mailman for your latest copy of Vogue, Harper's Bazaar, and W . . .
If you have absolutely nothing to wear (but your closet would heartily disagree) . . .
If you are usually late just because you just can't figure out what to put on your body . . .
Then you, my friend, are a fashionista. And there is no turning back now.
(Turn the page instead!)
LIFE IN THE "FASH" LANE
Welcome to the world of four-inch heels, four-ply cashmere, and four-dollar vintage dresses. Fashionistas will do anything to score the latest, the most obscure, the most absurd, the right-off-the-runway, the trendiest, the most expensive, the least expensive, the showstopper, the uniform, the marabou, the canvas, the nylon, the silk, the leather, the suede, the velvet, the tweed, the transparent, the ostrich feathers. We are a picky and difficult breed, with closets full of shredded tulle (but it's a Galliano!) and whalebone silk corsets (but it's a Gaultier!). We shop too much, eat too little, and sleep too late.
Our lives are often punctuated by sample sales and trunk shows, sometimes interrupted by phone calls from irate creditors, and always filled with overstuffed dry-cleaning bags on our living room floor. We experience dizziness when confronted by a supremely fabulous piece of clothing (it's called Balenciaga fever), and we have trouble sleeping if we don't have the right handbag for the season.
While we lust over the latest Parisian couture ball gowns, we also know the perils of head-to-toe designer, and we swoon when we see a well-dressed woman in a thrift-store jacket that may have served as the inspiration for Karl Lagerfeld's latest collection. We cheer when we score Dolce & Gabbana for 90 percent off! And sometimes we revel in retail (but shhhh, we're not proud of it). If it's impractical, theatrical, patterned, feathered, fur trimmed, and uncomfortable, you can bet it's hanging in our closet.
What we typically don't own: tailored classics, penny loafers, cable-knit sweaters (unless of course they've been shrunk, dyed, and somehow distressed, or are an intrinsic part of our ironic preppy phase). We live and die for our shoes. (They cost us a small fortune, after all.) And we'll take our favorite must-haves to our graves.
Some of you may scoff-huh, fashion is just so superficial. We have to say, it is. But it also isn't. Fashion is a part of life, something we need to protect our bodies from the cold and the radical agents that pollute the air (thank you, Alexander McQueen, for making such a mundane task look so damn good). It is also a form of art, self-expression, and a representation of more emotional roots. Fashion evokes a mental response from its appreciators. It can make us weep and make us feel empowered at once. It inspires thought, ideas, and creativity, and whether you shop Wal-Mart or Chanel, chances are we've all dealt with the same issues, moments, joys, and frustrations over fashion. Fashion. It does a life some good!
It's Not What You Can Do for Fashion;
It's What Fashion Can Do for You.
* It will cheer you up when you're feeling blue. Life is hard. Fashion is not. Wear red.
* It will transform your attitude and entire spirit. Nothing like a sleek pin-striped suit (with nothing under the jacket) or modern tuxedo with tall, tall heels and an envelope clutch to make you feel in charge. And trust us, you don't know power until you put on a pair of stiletto motorcycle boots and leather pants-or sexy until you slink into an Agent Provocateur slip and patent leather open-toe Betty Boop pumps.
* It will distinguish you from others. Who's going to forget the person who wears a gorgeous all-white suit with a black silk button-down shirt and striped black-and-white heels to an afternoon wedding, a lace dress and giant fedora to a luncheon, overalls rolled up with high, high heels and a teeny tank top and newsboy cap and great Chanel clutch for a casual Sunday brunch, or a fur jacket with a microminiskirt, knee-high boots, and a whole lot of attitude . . . for no reason at all?
* It will give you a reason to go out. What good will a hot little dress do for you if you're parked on the sofa, reading about what other people are wearing in a magazine and watching how celebrities dress on E! at the same time?
* When all else fails, it will give you something to fantasize about. Cavalli wishes and stiletto dreams for all!
* It makes you laugh. Just look through some of your old yearbooks for proof.
* It represents a moment in time. Proper day dresses with full skirts were fifties. Hippie was sixties. Bell-bottoms were seventies. Big shoulder pads were eighties. We're still trying to figure out the nineties. And it's too soon into the aughts to tell.
* It provides an excellent and organized way to catalog your memories. "Hmm, I can't remember when I dated Bryan. Wait. I was really into grunge then. Combat boots, three or four flannel shirts, skullcaps. So it was late 1993, early 1994."
* It helps the economy. Shopping is actually a charitable act in financially hard times. Give back, people!
This chapter will give you insight into our wacky world and break down our species into all the different types of fashionistas (choose a different one to be every day of the week), show you how to make over your mate (men often need so much help), teach you the importance of the almighty gay male best friend (who else will tell you when your butt looks fat without hurting your feelings or secretly being happy that it does?), and present the general rules we live by (rules, however, are made to be broken).
Now that you're an acknowledged member of our tribe, figure out what kind of fashionista you are-or want to be. Here are the main subspecies of our breed-and what it takes to become each one:
The Fairy Godmother Fashionista
If your closet is an open house . . . if you share news about the latest sales . . . if you're always ready to help repair a hem, pick out a bridal gown, or lend your favorite cocktail dress to a friend in need, then you're everyone's favorite fashionista-the fairy godmother who expresses her love through fashion's magic. Your MO is to:
* Read Page Six's gossip in the New York Post (www.pagesix.
com) religiously-celebrity gossip is now a vital part of your existence! Share choice tidbits with your inner circle.
* Make sure you put your psychic or astrologer at the top of your speed dial (if you don't have a mystic clairvoyant, get one, but please avoid hotlines with Dionne Warwick as a spokesperson).
* Bring your small, furry dog with you wherever you go. Consider naming it Jean-Claude.
* Become best friends with a flaming fashionista, who will love you when you're at your worst, find your beauty when you're broken out, and tell you when you're being crazy, high-maintenance, and incredibly cute in the same sentence.
* Laugh at your fashion follies and take risks with your style. The Fairy Godmother Fashionista is fun, bold, brazen, and brash inside and out; she is one of the brave few who can work it in short skirts, stilettos, and bobby socks without looking like a reject from a ZZ Top video.
* Live for bargain and thrift-store finds. If you see something your friends-or mom-would like, call them and ask if they'd like you to pick it up for them. You must do unto others, as the saying goes, as you'd like them to do unto you. And organize fashion sale field trips with the girls (and perhaps a pilgrimage to the Prada outlet outside Florence-even if it's on your honeymoon).
The Fashionista from "Across the Pond"
If you speak with a British accent, whether you grew up in Croydon (where Kate Moss was born on January 16, 1974) or in Michigan (like Madonna, who now speaks like the queen), call strangers "darling" and "love" as a matter of course, and date only shaggy-haired, questionably clean, wanna-be-rock-star types, you're a fashionista from the other side of the Atlantic. To perfect your schtick:
* Pair vintage concert T-shirts (Bowie, KISS, and the Rolling Stones are best-you adore glam rock) with sequins, crystals, and satin for evening.
* Revel in nightlife. Never come home before three in the morning. (You girls can sure par-tay.)
* Think of dinner as nothing more than a cigarette and a Diet Coke. Breakfast, however, can be hearty: steak and eggs.
* Avoid the torture of braces (you're secretly proud of your crooked teeth).
* Add vintage fur to your wardrobe. Wear with denim miniskirts.
* Don't fret over wine stains on your clothes (it only gives them character).
* Invest in a pony-hair handbag instead of a dog (animals are far too much work, as much as you love them). Consider naming it Jean-Claude.
The Boho Fashionista
You never use a blow-dryer. You own a passel of peasant shirts and djellabas. And you are a devout follower of Deepak Chopra, Ashtanga yoga, and power Pilates. You're a flower-child fashionista! While you always shave your legs, you:
* Apply makeup in order to make it look like you don't. Make sure your lips are glossed at all times.
* Wear pigtails, low ponytails, and fresh flowers in your hair.
* Embrace Buddhism and say things like, "Oh, I must go home and 'sage' to clean off bad energy" after an encounter with frosty, snobby wicked-witch fashionistas.
* Mix expensive Marc Jacobs or Marni pieces with Kmart coups and Birkenstocks.
* Consider filmmaking as a career. Try getting Bill Murray to star in your second feature.
* Drink cranberry tea and warm water with lemon, and schedule a monthly colonic.
* Get a belly-button ring-and a tattoo of the "om" symbol on the small of your back.
* Always know when Mercury is in retrograde.
The Wicked-Witch Fashionista
If you roll your eyes at knockoffs-even when you're secretly wearing one-and keep your sunglasses on at all times, even in elevators, you're the evil genius of the fashionista world. To keep your cold image going, you should:
* Hone your social-climbing skills by brushing up on the who's-who list of major socialites and royal players of your town. Befriend these women, if you can arrange it.
* Cultivate your ice-queen image by refraining from smiling in order to prevent laugh lines.
* Start saving for Botox. At the first sign of a forehead furrow, which can occur by twenty-five years of age, you must dash to your derm.
* Never eat in public (quelle horreur!). Work out-you want your arms to be a little too defined to incite the jealous gaze of your peers. Thrive on the envy of other women.
* Become legendary. Abuse your assistant. Make sure she takes down notes for the resultant tell-all best seller. Offer only gracious comments when it's published. You'll be even more admired.
* Ensure that you are well coiffed and manicured, including eyebrow, lip, and (eek!) chin waxing for all public appearances.
* Never leave home without a reservation. If by some foul chance you're made to wait, cause a stink by stomping your stiletto and name-dropping (make up fabulous-sounding names if need be).
The Quirky Fashionista
If you idolize Björk and think that the Marjan Pejoski swan dress she wore to the Oscars in 2000 was the bomb, wear black turtlenecks under white eyelet summer dresses, pile on smoky eye shadow and don Jeremy Scott's Venus on a Half Shell swimsuits (a swimsuit with an attached four-foot-tall foam clamshell on the butt), you're a fashionista on the cutting edge. You don't care what anyone thinks and you certainly march to the beat of your own drum. Your style:
* If you come from an upper-crust home, deny it. If you don't, act like you do-and then deny any wealthy, worldly beginnings.
* Perfect the vapid, blank gaze. (Note: You are above it, whatever it is.)
* Throw your mother's old prairie dress over jeans for a fresh look that's part Laura Ingalls Wilder and part Chloë Sevigny.
* Rent all films by Harmony Korine, Fellini, and Luis Buñuel of Belle de Jour fame.
* Read the works of Sylvia Plath and expatriate writers like George Sand.
* Date child prodigies who never went to college and built a lucrative career anyway; tortured artists with very pale skin and highly controversial bodies of work; former Ivy Leaguers turned actors who star in dark, eerie indie films, tend not to shave often, and wear tight polyester vintage pants. If those boys don't work out, former Ivy Leaguers turned middle-management admins are fine, too.
Your uniform consists of smart loafers (Prada, if possible), small round glasses (rimless are preferable), man-style suits or low-slung trousers with a crease down the middle of the leg. Ellen is your hero. Rosie is not. You worship Hillary Swank's performance in Boys Don't Cry, but wish that the director had instructed her to let her armpit and leg hair grow. You're a lady-loving lady fashionista. You're here! You're queer! The world has no choice but to get used to it!
* Learn your way around a camera. Subscribe to Vanity Fair.
* Keep your hair on the shorter side of long.
* Develop an intense appreciation of twentieth-century and folk art.
* Pronounce your S sounds with a slight lishp (witnesh Melisha Etheridge).
* Dismiss all renegsbians (lesbians who become straight) from your Rolodex.
* Hang out with a circle of very creative types, including Madonna.
* Note: Being Sapphic does not mean you cannot embrace lipstick and dresses.
Sassy Teen Fashionista
You're artsy, moody, and gothic. People think you're angry, but really you're just misunderstood, and so what if you delight in slamming doors. You have a drawerful of vampy dark matte lipstick and a bit of a candle obsession. You're a teen fashionista with sass. To cultivate this persona:
* Make fishnet hose and combat boots part of your signature style.
* Disdain all forms of extravagance (so provincial!).
* Practice Wicca and design your own clothes (all it takes is a Hanes T-shirt and a pair of scissors, sweetheart).
* If you're not already publishing your own zine, start now.
* Acquire a wicked record collection from garage-sale vinyls.
* Never admit to liking those Lionel Richie love songs. (But it's okay. We all do!)
Excerpted from The Fashionista Files by Melissa de la Cruz and Karen Robinovitz. Copyright © 2004 by Karen Robinovitz. Excerpted by permission of Ballantine Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.