“Everyday is Halloween” by Ministry was the anthem of my teenagehood. Yep; I’m a recovering goth. Like any 12 step program; you can never consider yourself completely cured. My problem was not so much a devotion to the undead but a love for dramatic theatrical costumes, and goth bars were one of the few places I could get away with wearing vintage items, parts of costumes saved from ballet recitals, jewelry from hardware stores and stuff from Queen West shops all in one outfit. If you draw on thick black eyeliner and tell people you’re goth, no one bats an eye that you’re wearing a tutu at 1 pm on a weekday, to a coffee shop.
Some of you may assume, given my obsession with fashion, that I spend a lot of money on clothes. Truth is I run a very tight ship when it comes to my staple everyday wardrobe. Where I fall apart is a lust for unique, bizarre, costume-y, statement pieces. Recently I spent $70 on a fedora. It was a beautiful hat with a Greta Garbo-esque peek-a-boo brim, and sized to fit my exceptionally small head. (Proper fit is another of my obsessions, perhaps another column?) Unfortunately, I have very few occasions to wear a fedora, particularly one that looks like I stepped out of a noir film.
The problem when I face my closet is that I either have jeans and t-shirts, or fedoras, polka dot dresses, platform architectural shoe things, snake-skin pants and random whimsical items. For all my blather about sustainability, personally I have to stay away from thrift stores because I will buy things that make me laugh. Kensington Market, H&M, Queen West are also danger zones. I now have to add Bebe to the list when they stocked their fall shelves with burlesque inspired fashion; including, (and run over and get one if they still have it), a skirt made of ostrich feathers! Drool.
I had a crisis recently where I was searching for a pair of elegant black stilettos to wear with a sweater dress. Shoe box after shoe box revealed a literal tour through the decades of shoe fashion from forties platforms to disco shoes to nineties combats but I could not find a simple pair of black heels. Between buying basics for work and my drama fetish, I have a dearth of simple, elegant, quality clothes and shoes.
I can never give up costumes altogether, I love the theatrics too much, but I’m beginning to dislike the gimmickry. When you adhere too much to a look, particularly one that is based on a specific character, you can wind up looking like a silly caricature. It becomes less about who you are then who you want to be. Take the example of so many Hollywood famewhores; overdoing it just makes them look like they have too much to prove. I’ve also found out the hard way that novelty items are cheaply made and totally not comfortable.
I didn’t buy the $100 dollar ostrich skirt (even though, a hundred bones is totally reasonable for a skirt made of bird feathers). I won that battle; but I have to take it day by day. I just have to remind myself that I’m saving up for a pair of well-made, quality shoes that I can wear for years.