form, function

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*I don't own these anymore, but I was too lazy to snap a picture of my current all-black pair


I had a week off last week, because I had to clear the annual leave entitlement that I can't carry into my next work year. I spent it perfecting family recipes, baking, cleaning, practising yoga, reading, and an intense amount of television viewing.

Since I only went out for yoga, sometimes meeting friends for lunch after a session, my uniform for the week was my yoga leggings, loose t-shirts or a long-sleeved tee, a long cardigan where necessary, flip flops, and a canvas tote. Sometimes I wore my Chucks. I was going out in clothes only one notch above what I would sleep in.

It would have been interesting to see how long I would keep up the "look" (I would have to wait for a spell of extended unemployment to test out the theory). I suppose the week was a useful exercise in demonstrating how dependent my style is on occasion. Even my staple, the one sartorial item I believe I cannot live without - jeans - was relegated to the backseat.

I love my clothes and I have a clear idea of what I think is "me", style-wise, so it surprised me a little that I would throw out notions of "style" once I settled into that mentality that I wasn't "going out", I was only running errands and exercising and I didn't need to "get dressed".

Clearly, my style is highly dependent on function. Would my style take a very different route if I didn't hold down a fairly conventional job that involves going to the office and meeting people and having to look presentable? Would I still love button-downs, for instance?

How much of your style is determined by function?

Comments

Madeleine said…
Form is on about the same level of function for me- I always have to make sure that my choice of clothing for the everyday is versatile enough to cycle to uni, include enclosed shoes for working in photo labs but not stand out too much against the well-dressed fashion students! I long for a week of just wearing thongs, leggings and oversized tees...not to mention the baking!
luka said…
my style is not depending so much on form or function, even though i always try to dress with comfort on mind. i'm staying at home almost all the time, but i also wear nice dresses almost all the time. it's simple, cause i dress mainly for myself, and wearing something nice makes me feel "comfortable". i'm one of the people that don't feel comfortable in pajamas (that's why i never wear one). i hardly ever dress down or really dress up. i like something in between, "smart casual" is something i feel most comfortable in :)
but i guess cause i don't have any form or function i need to attend to, i can afford to be more free in my choice of clothing. i understand people with normal jobs need to sit back and chill once a while to distance themselves from working environment, to unbuckle and simply relax, hence they wear utterly comfy clothes like pajamas.
Ammu said…
Good question. I have to say my last job introduced me to the joys of Brooks Brothers button downs. Left to my own devices, if I were working from home, I would probably wear Indian tunic tops and shorts/jeans most of the time.
CamisaBlanca said…
In a sense my style is dependent on function in that what I wear is very dependent on my lifestyle and the weather. However, within those confines I have carved out a form within which I feel most comfortable. I prefer simple easy clothes that I can wear for hours (probably sitting in lecture/at the library) and still look put together once I emerge from my hole at 11pm groggily heading back to my room. I know others who have the same qualifications (comfort, presentability), but achieve them in a completely different way than I would (not to mention differing definitions of the two).

I am certain that once I enter the workforce the function my clothes must serve will alter significantly, but the form in which I choose to achieve those ends will simply be a variation (not an unrecognizably different one) on what I wear now.
Joy said…
i think function is one of the most important aspects to consider when choosing what to wear. lately i've just been going to class which doesn't really require anything special...so i've been just dressing as normal. not quite so exciting!
LN said…
I think my style has changed over the last few years due to moves to different climates. The move from my native LA to Chicago brought about the biggest change - coats, boots, cold weather accessories were added to my wardrobe. The recent move to Denver has been interesting - while I am equipped for snow and very cold temps, I realize I'm not as well equipped for those in between cold temps, somewhere between a fleece and a snow coat.
lin said…
Madeleine: I think I am similar to you...though I admit even if I am dressing to work out, I still try to stick to a preferred colour scheme (hence they're all black, white and grey).

luka: I'm definitely in your latter category of people who need to just chill once in a while from dressing for work and other occasions guided by some social rules.

Ammu: I would too. Until perhaps it gets stale and I start pining for a shirt again!

CamisaBlanca: Well said. I think the revelation from my exercise was that when I talk about uniforms and staples and a definitive look, I forgot how greatly it is shaped by circumstances and environment.

Joy: I found my university days to be quite dull style-wise, until I hit what a friend described as the "the Year 3 bloom" - it's like once everyone hit their stride in school, they started dressing better, in more distinct styles (most of us wore school uniforms until we were 18). Wonder if you have seen anything like that on campus?

LN: I agree, climate is actually my primary consideration for dressing. I'm always thinking in terms of what works in warm, sticky weather. Also, I'm terrible at dressing for cold-weather holidays. It takes me ages to pack.
Aïssa said…
You remind me that I also have lots of vacation days I've got to take before I lose benefits, I don't know how I'm going to manage to cram them all before June but I do need a few days off.

That said I feel like a few days off of our conventional and formal style is the equivalent to vacations for the mind and body.

As much I love dressing up for work and social occasions, I feel the need to leave any thoughts behind from time to time.
When on holidays, I can live off on the most boring combination (tees, shorts, flats) and not give a damn (for a short while). I feel entitled to it but it doesn't last long.

I don't know if it's social pressure or some internal alarm clockwork but I always go back to a certain smart to my casual.
lin said…
Aissa: March/April seems like a good time to take time off, with lots of good new TV coming back, haha (Mad Men, 30 Rock, Game of Thrones, Community).

Actually my dressing has changed somewhat since I left my last job, subtly, but definitely distinct. I guess that's food for thought for another post.
Fen said…
I 100% agree with this - when I'm not 'going out' anywhere I usually wear slouchy clothes like leggings or joggers. Since I left my job I've been much more interested in comfy clothing because I hate sitting around the house feeling trust up in tight jeans etc. I expect that I'll change my slouchy ways when I'm finally back in employment/education though.
petrichore said…
Completely dependent on function! I'd wear heels every day, if I didn't need to walk around and be active. But I like to move around too much, and my jobs involve lots of walking and standing. I won't lie, practicality and comfort factor in there, too. ;) I try to find the intersection, like in a Venn diagram, where comfort and practicality intersect with stylishness. And I always, always try to avoid ugly shoes. :)

minima/maxima, a blog about minimalist style
Cato said…
I like this subject!! I'm pretty much at the functional side, too! I study at home and there I almost "physically" need comfy clothes. And I've got a bit of my grandma's mentality, of "saving up" nice things. She was a hard working farmer and had a closet full of nice clothes which she'd only wear for special occasions, even after my grandparents quit the farmers' life and moved to Germany and later were pensioners.

Moreover at university the months before big exams are so full of stress and desperation (for almost everyone in my classes) that there's barely any energy left, for other stuff. and especially since I'm not a regular student anymore but still had those exams I just hurried to tutorials once or twice a week, didn't know anyone, hurried back and was so glad I didn't have to think about what to wear. Still I'm pretty sure I don't dress for other people. I love to spend some thoughts on what to wear for a nice day out at museums all by myself. And I also liked to dress nicely for my internships, where I had some sort of semi formal dress code. Maybe it's also a bit a indicator for happiness v. stress for me. ;)
lin said…
Fen: I guess what we think of as our personal style is not as fixed as we think! That said, even at home, I don't deviate from my preferred colours, at least, haha.

petrichore: A Venn diagram is probably a great way to look at it! It's funny how useful a Venn diagram is isn't it, outside of a science class.

Cato: I agree, I don't think I dress for other people as well - I like that personal style isn't as consistent as we think it has to be.

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