Looking good while doing stuff

January 21, 2010 in Fashion, Fashion Anthropology, Self-Health by alliemcc

If you love clothes, there is one infernally annoying quality to them: they look impeccable when not in motion—but as soon as we have to put on a coat, walk up or down steps, or sit in a chair, or reach up, they move and wrinkle and bunch up. What’s up with that?! 

This has become a pressing issue for me in my latest temp assignment – I’m taking public transportation, and have about a half-mile walk on a wide, heavily trafficked road from the nearest stop to my office.  The wind is blowing, people don’t shovel the sidewalk, I’ve got sand and salt billowing in my face… and I’m trying to look good.  After my last office job, I summarily donated my entire stock of “office wear” (slacks, button-downs, sweaters, knee-highs), and resolved to wear what I want to wear, within the confines of business casual.


Photo by Richard Avedon via Alabama Chanin.

Mind you, I live in Connecticut – it’s barely gone over 30 degrees Farenheit in the last 2 weeks – and I’m walking about a mile round trip.

Luckily, I’ve always been the layering type, so camisoles and tank tops are not an issue, and I had the presence of mind during the last year, when I was somewhat financially solvent, to stock up on basic tees, tights, leggings, and thin socks of various lengths.  I also added 2 pairs of walking-friendly, sassy boots to my wardrobe.  So I’ve worn a skirt or dress 7 out of the last 10 business days, and I don’t even have windburn.  I’m feeling like quite a badass fashionista, if I do say so.

Unconsciously at first, but with growing resolve, I’m feeling like, there’s no reason not to dress with full feminine flair for activities other than driving and desk-sitting, and in weather other than temperate.  Until now, when faced with dire conditions of transportation or weather, I reached for the warm, sturdy, and waterproof – and my sense of style was squelched under the layers of practicality.  But now I’m questioning that sort of bare-fashion-bones mentality.

And almost coincidentally, I’ve happened to come across a few links lately that deal with looking fabulous while having a life:

Kate at Needled, has again graced us with a fabulous socio-historical take on women and walking and wearing; and,

A wiki article listing a number of blogs dedicated to chic cycling.

There are a few items that are saving me from hypothermia and fashion infamy at the same time:

  • big, faux-pashmina scarves;
  • wedge-heel, patent leather, knee high boots;
  • knee-length wool skirts;
  • tights and leggings;
  • my huge collection of handbags;
  • perfectly snug, lined leather gloves;
  • amazingly impervious and versatile kilt hose

Are you a commuter, cycliste, or pedestrienne?  How do you compose your wardrobe to accommodate your locomotion? Favorite garments or accessories?