Dressing the Part, Part 1

March 3, 2011

Let us first honor those persons whose works have paved the way. Beau Brummell (with whom I share a birthday!) is credited with introducing the modern suit, worn with a tie, as the foundation of Men’s fashion in the early 1800s. Oscar Wilde, Lord Byron, and Quentin Crisp, all known for being paragons of Dandy style and charm, each embraced a philosophy of ‘living aesthetics’. So why not just use the term ‘Fashion’ and get on with it? Simply put, FASHION suppresses personal style. In my experience, to dress up with style and panache requires equal parts inner reflection and outer cultivation, a recipe concocted by the decadent French Poet, essayist, and art critic Charles Baudelaire. He defined a Dandy “as having no other status, they cultivate the idea of beauty in their own persons, of satisfying their passions, of feeling and thinking… and as ‘one who elevates æsthetics to a living religion.’”
As a role-playing, drama-geek outsider in high school, I found the writings and lifestyles of authors such as Ambrose Bierce, Lord Dunsany, Arthur Machen, Klark-Ashton Smith, Lovecraft, Poe, Baudelaire and others quite compelling. So much so, in fact, that I spent my entire senior year of high school submerged in a Lovecraft-inspired game that inspired my friends and I to recreate an Egyptian mummy. The Dean of our school was so taken with our work that he agreed to leave our mummy-named NOPHRU KA with his faux canopic organ jars and all, on display where we had installed it in the school lobby. (even though put there via illicit midnight means) Looking back now I see that by embracing these inspirations I was rejecting the horrors a competitive high school world presented me, and setting down the path I celebrate now, namely: LIFE AS ART.
Surely, to become CHAMPIONS of LIVING MARVELOUSLY we must look and dress the part. We are not content with subscribing to popular, off-the-shelf scripts and trends, NO! Let our imaginations commune and conspire with the Inner MUSE that we may outwardly embody our DREAMTIME SKINS. (Thanks to Erik Davis for this lovely term.) Developing and sharing one’s STYLE can serve as an act of INTENTION, MAGIC, and BEAUTY! So let us take care on how we present ourselves that we may also serve to inspire others to approach each moment and social occasion as unique and precious! What influences can you draw on to hone your personal style? For me it first it was an immersion in fantasy role-playing and literature that sparked my interest in exploring romantic, decadent, and poetic realities. In the early 1980s, my young tastes reflected  New Romantics such as Duran Duran, Adam Ant, and Boy George. My clove-smoking Thespian buddies and I voraciously consumed Friday Night Videos each week for new looks. Concert culture was always Grand Theater and provided many dramatically lit chances to be seen in our cravats and impossibly pointy shoes. Literature, Film, Art, Music and Culture thus provided a stage upon which we could practice our ART. We flocked in our finery to midnight movies such as Liquid Sky, Quadrophenia, Clockwork Orange, Rocky Horror, Gothic, and The Hunger.


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