It's really not that I'm some sort of anthopological, ethnographical nut that I need to know the true origin of EVERYTHING I wear. But my stance with 'national costume', or to put it bluntly, attire you would see at an Olympics ceremony or in the "It's a Small World" ride in Disneyland, is avoidance. Hell, I haven't quite grappled how to wear my own bloody national costume aka qi paos, Chinese prints/textiles or even the simple mandarin collar without falling down into a cesspit of feeling "I look like a waitress who is about to serve you up some dim sum…". Let alone dabbling in other people's cultures and prompting ridicule. It's a stance that is a personal one and to some would seem rather ridiculous since much of fashion is appropriated from something or another. Somehow though, a period gone by, science, films, art or ficitional characters is all safe territory. This stumbling "national costume" block though somehow sets of problematic alerts in my head.
No good blaming the designers. The Marc Jacobs/Jean Paul Gaultiers of this world probably had quite specific ideas about what tribe or what ethnicity they were referencing when designing their collections which is all fine and dandy but alas by the time it filters down to being a mere influence on a moodboard in some high street retailer, we're just left with the blanket word of "tribal" or "ethnic" which is then propelled to us en masse via the media. That's when I start cringing in the same way I feel embarrassed for the sad boys in The Inbetweeners.
With the purchase of this Nigerian-made shirt that I found at The Shop on Cheshire Street, all the above pre-amble came spewing out which just goes to show how uncomfortable I feel. It's not the kind of fabric I own at all in my wardrobe for reasons above and because of rare encounters. However, the sleeves were intriguing me to no end with a strange sort of lattice effect that I couldn't resist. I think I mentally dared myself to do it in the shop which sounds really silly especially when in the scheme of things it is "just a shirt".
Of course styling wise, I have discovered I could take the shirt to many places and soon enough, it will pop up regularly in Susie Style posts and this bit of useless text will have no consequence whatsoever. I might even go all out and find myself in a qi pao and probably pair them with a DMs and a jaunty hat. Ok, take that back. The dim sum waitress just flashed up again.
Like I said, all this means nothing to those that are wearers of the world who mix necklaces from Peru with kimonos from Japan and embroidered shirts from Finland. A lot of people have described me as "fearless" or "daring" in my dress sense but here I'm faced with a fear and the necessity to dare and keep daring as I shirk in my new shirt. Perhaps I'm not the only one who feels this way. Perhaps we can join forces, form an offshoot blog/forum and together overcome our fears and make…. our very own "It's a Small World" ride!!!!!!!!!