Tuesday, September 04, 2012

One gift of age

Some time in my teens, I set myself against fashion, both as an industry and a concept. The notion that after being pleased by fat ties I could be induced to get enthusiastic about thin ones seemed absurd on its face. What's more, I've always been put off by the sullen mouths and vacant stares that models put on.

Those prejudices have persisted, but live and learn. While I was walking to my office this morning, a few thoughts crystallized -- triggered, I think, by an oddly-flapping frilly blouse passing by. First, kind of obviously: fashion shaped my initial prejudices: there is no Archimedean fashion-free point at which our tastes are forged.  There were lots of things that as a pre-teen I unquestionably considered dowdy, ugly, laughable that were no such things -- and of course others, such as long hair for males and bell-bottoms, that I learned to embrace while coming to see their opposites as square.

Second, and more striking/less obvious to me, it dawned that openness to fashion (in all things -- cars, buildings, music, etc.) is in part a willingness to see beauty -- or some more prosaic aesthetic fitness -- where you haven't seen it before. Having been around earth a while, I can recall my sensibility bending around new shapes for cars, glasses frames, electronic devices -- even body types. In fact, there's one eclecticism that may be biologically based: the older I get, the better (or younger) older people look to me, a shift that's moved with me through the decades. (Okay, that's not exactly a matter of fashion, but let's run with it....)

Who knows? Maybe, eventually, even death will look okay.  When Prospero looks forward to going home, "where every third thought shall be my grave," he may be seducing himself a bit.

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