Tag Archives: privilege

a different kind of closet visit.

closet visit header of a plain wire clotheshanger

disclaimer: i’m hoping this won’t fall into a slightly passive-aggressive girl-hate post (which i feared my rant about the man repeller would fall into) but i wanted to know if any of my readers felt similarly.

closet visit has been around for a year now, and i find myself back there from time to time. it partly reminded me of the selby, which i’ve been a fan of for eye candy for a while now, where we visit creative people’s homes. but closet visit focuses solely on, you guessed it, closets. here is a description of the site from the creator herself: “Artist Jeana Sohn visits creative, inspiring and stylish ladies’ closets.” sounds simple and straight-forward enough, right?

and that it is. a simple formula with beautiful results.

i was really drawn in by the concept, and was happy to virtually meet some of these people via their closets. i was even surprised to find an old livejournal friend and the creator of the popular livejournal fashion community newestwrinkle there, and to see that her style was still captivating, and her advice still sage (Be patient and shop vintage. The quality is great and the pieces will be unique. Invest in great quality shoes).

but overall, i must admit, i felt a bit… frustrated. very quickly, i started noting some overwhelming trends in the kind of woman profiled and was ultimately left desirous for actual depth in digging through these strangers’ closest.

where i feel closet visit is strong in visual content and stimulation, it lacks in storytelling. ultimately, it strikes me as superficial and vapid. yeah, that’s a bit harsh, but of the “creative, inspiring and stylish” women featured, how many of them fall outside the norms of fashion? how many have a body type that is difficult to dress in straight-sized clothes or couture? how many of them struggle to pay the bills, let alone buy the latest prada shoes? i found myself thinking, of course you can have twenty different leather jackets when you have the money for it and are a straight-sized person and have a closet the size of my house. of course you can describe your beauty regimen as “low maintenance” and then list off products i didn’t even know existed just because you can.

part of me can’t decide whether i love or hate the fact that nearly all of them list frida kahlo as a style inspiration (i almost wanted to go through each interview and do a tally, but honestly i don’t think it’s exaggerating to say it’s 80% of them). but even though frida kahlo is an inspiration, not one of them has a hair out of place (facial or otherwise). none of them talk about having a disability, or being queer, or their politics. i think a lot of that is inherent to kahlo’s presence in photographs, in history, in her art. it was radical for kahlo to talk about those things in the 1930s and 40s, yet women who list her as a “style inspiration” or icon don’t touch any of those issues in 2010.

i could go on, but i don’t think it’s productive. i don’t want this to come off as a criticism of the women profiled, their warddrobes or their tastes: rather, i think it is disappointing as a project. disappointing because it seems to me yet another instance of the illusion of the democratization of fashion via the internet. because there are no ad dollars going into this, because there are no space constraints like you would find in print, it is more radical than a magazine feature. to me, this is no different than a vogue profile of affluent people-who-know-the-right-people showing off their warddrobes. perhaps i am being unfair: closet visit never states it sets out to be radical, nor does it express a desire to be different, go against the grain. in fact, all it says is that it seeks out creative, inspiring, and stylish women’s closets. how about i leave it at this: why are all of the creative, inspiring and stylish women also affluent, rich, largely white, thin, mostly designer wearing people?

my closetme showing off my closet to my friend annemarie in january

how many people do i know who fit the criteria of “creative” largely due to the fact that their bodies are not reflected in mainstream fashion, and they have to alter and mess around with clothing that wasn’t designed for them? how many creative, inspiring and stylish women do i know who had to sell their vintage treasures gathered over the years in order to be able to make rent that month (myself included)? how many broke ass crust punks do i know with incredible style because they dumpster dive, because they can’t afford designer clothes, but also because they reject them? and how many stories do their warddrobes tell because of those factors?

maybe this all ties into the fact that personally, i feel like your closet and your clothes can be a huge reflection, or at least a window into the story of yourself, your personality, your life. of the 35 or so interviews and features on closet visit, i don’t feel like i got to know more than two or three of these women on anything other than a superficial level. and perhaps i am to blame for searching for that.

when i dig through your closet, i long for stories of what you were doing the last time you wore it. a memory that bursts forth every time you see that scraggily old t-shirt. a hat you wore when you first met your best friend. a dress you tore because you were having too much fun to be careful with the delicate old lace.

instead of just grumping about it, i thought i’d throw the question to you.

whose closet (or suitcases) would you want to visit and rummage through?

my choices:

phew! okay i’ll leave it at that for now.

what do you think? am i totally out of line with this one? is closet visit great on its own, and doesn’t have to be critical?


Filed under politics, vintage