Tuesday, 27 September 2011

A Little Eastern Inspiration

I have been paying a lot more attention to the way I look recently. No, please don’t laugh I’m being honest...

You see, I have a dear friend of mine, Erika, who recently visited Japan for a year. In fact it’s only been a couple of months since she’s been back. Japanese pop culture has always peaked my interest a little. I like the music, the comics, some of the fashions etc. Unfortunately I have never had enough passion to find out about it’s history or learn it’s language, but the colourful teeny-bopper like elements of what washed over onto these shores was bizarrely cute. I liked it.

So when Erika was generous enough to bring over some of the fashion magazines she’d purchased in Osaka while living there, I got a little excited. I was treated to one copy of ‘Fruits’ magazine which takes pictures of various Fashionista((s) is that a plural) on the streets of Tokyo, and another magazine called ‘Kera’ which was a bit of a Punk come Neo-Rave come Gothic Lolita madness. It had bright colours clashing, strange hairstyles and weird cuts and patterns thrown together in a way both maddening and genius.  Looking at these images filled me with a type of invigoration that I don’t experience when staring at fashion magazines very often.

When I was looking at the girls in ‘Fruits’, beautiful and highly fashionable as they were, I was looking from page to page getting more and more excited. You see, I found myself thinking, I can do this. And better still, I can do this without buying anything. This magazine managed to do things that I never would have thought of with items that I already had and was on the verge of replacing with something more current. At work, it was true I had to be current. But on those free days when I can completely have me to myself there was no reason for me to be boring anymore.

It’s curious how easily I was swayed away from my normal safe ‘looks’. A few of my friends say I should embrace my quirks while I’m still young and I can feel my neck stiffening with age all too soon. So I’m going to try a bit harder everyday to try wearing things that are a little different, maybe clashing. Taking two patterns that are sworn enemies and forcing them to cooperate with one another. At the end of the day if it goes right, their clothes so looking great makes you feel great. And on the other hand if you make what you, yourself perceive to be a faux-pas than who cares, their only clothes! Take note, laugh it off and try again tomorrow.

Looking at how Japanese fashion magazines inspired me has made me think about how much money I have invested in trying to make myself feel better by looking better. The thing is clothes, shoes and accessories do make me feel more confident when I feel like I look good. But just because I buy something new doesn’t mean I enjoy wearing it. I’m going to make more of an effort to work with what I have. I’ll try and experiment, making the most of all the hand me downs I’ve accumulated from my older sister and mother, as well as the things I stocked up on in previous years.

It’s more economic, more environmentally healthy and it’s a lot more fun as well. I won’t say I’ll go cold turkey on buying new things. But I will try a little harder to recycle. If I get stuck for inspiration I’ll flip through ‘Fruits’ and ‘Kera’ to give my imagination a boost.

Monday, 5 September 2011

Group Interviews!

I cannot stand group interviews . They are free-for-alls in which cruel and ill mannered people whore themselves for six pounds an hour and scraps of material pieced by fingers of a poor six year old boy in a sweat shop in Southern Narnia. Yes it's a character building process, mainly due to the fact that after the evil Overlord (manager/ or is she/he us busy assistant manager) is done with you, you are forced to gather up the fragments of your character and sobbing, piece them back together. See, building? Hooray for me. Nevertheless, your only construction tools are p.v.a and broken dreams, weak adhesives- so everyone can see the cracks. You always leave off with a weaker resolution than you came with.

I have had two horrendous experiences in group interviews. Both in fashion retail. The first I was thrown under a bus or some other form of public transport. Basically Selfridges was opening a River Island shoe department. I took any opportunity to work and River Island was cool so I wanted to go for it. When I did, however I got a nasty shock. In a sense I laid down and allowed the bus to rollover me. There were all these fabulous people, with fabulous hairstyles and fabulous people. And there I was in my dinky little dress and heels and straightened hair feeling like a cow in McDonalds. I knew then I was about to be slaughtered.

Nevertheless I pasted on my favourite interview smile and readied myself. The interviewer was Satan in skinny jeans. I, to this day, have never met a more odious haggard old bint. One of those very thin, very 'in' women with red hair that isn't hers and a smile that looks like a grimace and a voice like tin violins being fed the wrong way up a cat. I tried though, I did try. I wouldn't say my attempt was valiant. But every time I opened my mouth someone would steal my words, badly rephrase them and pass them off as their own.
They were the kind of people that would prey on erratic and squishy creatures like me.

Please don't get me wrong. I like fashion, that is to say, wearing things that suit my mood and make me feel funky or sexy and cool or whatever simplistic adjective takes my fancy. But formulaic indoctrination of the masses, at the hands of creepy thin people with purple hair who wear sunglasses inside, frightens me. I try to follow fashion sometimes in a high street sort of way. I even look trends up online to see what's going on in that world. I bought a Cosmopolitan magazine once too and everything. But if I don't like something I can't work with it. If you hit me in the face with a shovel, you can't convince me that its the new 'vogue' way of goodbye kissing.

Some of the fashion that the bird lady manager was bringing up, I hated. I am a very bad liar. So the interview didn't go well. And all the people made me feel like a fashion novice, because I was. And I felt too old, too young, too fat and too stupid all at the same time.

I'm someone who can present themselves well as an individual and work part of a team. I'm not a person who would disembowel every guest at a garden party with a spork for the last portion of coleslaw. And therefore perhaps I'll give group interviews a miss for a while, just until I gain a little more confidence or lose my ability to feel.