Monday, November 25, 2013

Song of Man: The Art of Dressing

"Ceci n'est pas une robe."
This is not my dress.

This is my life.  Are we destined to run the rails of our lives as passive passengers or can we take the helm, steer the wheel, and see where LIFE takes us? Can we craft our lives as boldly as an artist crafts a painting? If your life is your work of art, how will you dress it? 

You are not your dress. However, how you dress changes who you are. I don't for a moment, confuse my way of dress for my identity. My true self lies in deeper waters than that that can be caught on the casement of a wardrobe. My life is more than what I wear, or where I shop. Who I am is etched far deeper than the topical (yet true) tropes of "the clothes make the man"  variety. But I can, and do celebrate who I am, and where I'm going, in a very deliberate cultivation of what I wear. 

I dress to express. I love wearing clothing that joyfully expresses who I am, who I want to be, and where I want to go. I love the poetry of a dress, but I never forget that poetry is more than a string of pleasant sounding words.  There is much room in a poem for succinct and powerful action. I don't want to wear a dress that was sewn from the suffering of others- so no shoddy, sweat shopped fast fashion of the F-21 variety. I can't afford the high cost of cheap clothing. 

A clean conscience is always in style, and I do my best to carve out a sustainable and viable economy, for myself,  and others. I support companies that treat their employees fairly, commit to a living wage and safe working conditions. I support the efforts of those committed to creating strong economies in their own communities, and I do so by putting my money where my mouth (and heart) is: by buying  products from businesses that direct their bottom line towards betterment of this planet, and the people living on it. 

What does this have to do with art you may ask? Or my dress? EVERYTHING. 
My expression of dress goes beyond mere decoration, and explores a very personal journey of living a deliberately artful and happy life. I love a good cheetah print, but more than that, I love the fact that my choice of source for that cheetah print can have a positive impact in my world, and on my life. I CAN make a difference. And isn't that ultimately the dream that sleeps in the heart of every great artist? 

The clothes may make the man. But who makes the man who makes the clothes? 
Let me paint you a picture: when you buy something from a company that knowingly steals designs from others, pays their workers low wages and turns a blind eye to poor working conditions, you aid in painting a portrait of a future flecked with world-wide destitution and misery. 

When you support businesses and individuals who are committed to ethical business practices, who pay their workers a living wage, while providing a safe and sustainable work environment, your decisions are bold strokes that cultivate a life worthy of poetry and meaning. In our modern age, the fine art of dressing is inexorably linked to the act of shopping; how you dress may affect the way others treat you, but who you let dress you, definitely affects the way others are treated. How beautiful can a pair of shoes be when worn on your feet, knowing that they were stitched together by the suffering hands of another?

You know the saying: Beauty is as beauty does. Well then, what do YOU do? What is the art of your dress?

Dressing, is a powerful and political act, whether you actively own your actions or not. Artful dressing is a way of expressing yourself, and wearing your hopes and desires on your proverbial sleeves: if you love beauty and kindness and charity, wear it. Then be it.

This Magritte inspired dress styling first appeared here
Suggested Shopping: the Gala wrap dress by Karina Dresses

Karina Dresses is a Brooklyn based, small American company that designs and manufactures in the U.S.A. They are committed to being a green, eco and people friendly company, and are committed to paying their workers a living wage. They believe in giving back to the community and are actively involved in contributing to various charities and good causes. By choosing to shop Karina Dresses, and other like-minded companies, you dress to express your values of goodwill, as well as smart, sustainable style.

Disclosure: I've worked with and for Karina Dresses in various capacities in the past- first as a Brand Ambassador, later as a copy writer, editor and marketing assistant. I am currently signed up as an affiliate for the company, and any clicks on links that result in a purchase may result in a commission of sales from Karina Dresses.


Mrs. D said...

Great post! I love supporting small businesses because of that - you know who's making the garments!

Patti said...

Wonderful post - you always make me think harder, and I love that. I try to vote with my wallet when it comes to clothing, and other things too. You look wonderful in your Karina dress. xox

Anupriya DG said...

Oh! That's one of my favourite paintings ever!!! ^_^

Unknown said...

Excellent post and it's always good to support US companies .. esp those that are ethical and treat their employees well.


Shybiker said...

Entertaining post. Fashion *is* art, so talking about it in these terms makes sense. I enjoy your thoughts.

Connie said...

I just bought myself a brand new pair of Vans shoes because I remembered that they were made in California but after reading your post I just had to check and Augh!! They are still designed in CA but they're now made in Vietnam! Dammit! Thank you for kicking my butt and making me more aware!!

Anonymous said...

Great post and such important sentiments. You've definitely made an impact on me by bringing up these issues and promoting shopping secondhand first. I've found so many great things secondhand, and I am being more responsible about not buying fast fashion.

You're an inspiration, Bella, dear!

SeƱora Allnut said...

hurrah for powerful dressing up!, you're so damn wise and inspiring!, I'm trying to use my money to support local designers and pretty little business I like!, because 'dressing is a powerful and political act!'
besos & magritte!

Tamera's Craft Palace said...

Awesome post Bella!!!

Tamera's Craft Palace said...

Awesome post Bella!!!

Sasha Maria said...

Fantastic, thoughtful post. You articulate your points so wonderfully! This post definitely reminded me that, while I am very thoughtful of much in my life, sometimes I don't articulate my thoughtfulness in terms of dress and written word. I think it's important to do so and I'm glad you've shared!

Suzanne said...

What a well written post.

I am trying harder to avoid companies that don't have a global conscience. Not just towards people, since many people in those countries actually rely on the little money that garment working brings to feed their entire family, and offer some kind of opportunity where little or none exists, but more importantly ( at least to me) to the sustainability for the earth.


Beryl said...

You look so nice in that dress!

No Fear of Fashion said...

I totally agree with you. Sometimes it is hard to know whether the company behind the purchase is OK. But you can be sure it is not OK when a new pair of shoes cost 10 dollar. You cannot make a decent shoe for that kind of money. Somebody has got to pay the price.
Fortunately I am pretty well off, so I can afford higher prices. Hoping those companies treat their workers well. As soon as I find out, a company is not, I will never buy from them again. As I said, I totally agree with you.