Author Archives: Michael Braithwaite

Sass and Sincerity: Arielle Greenberg’s Locally Made Panties

Arielle Greenberg's Locally Made Panties

Vintage photograph c. 1975 from the collection of James Mullineaux, “Darkroomist,” courtesy of Goldline Press.

Not too long ago my friend Kiki and I were sharing an impressive order of fries and hashing out the long-held divide among feminists about the frivolity vs. importance of fashion in general, and personal style specifically. Always an expert with the killer one-liner, Kiki managed to skewer the notion of fashion as frivolity with, “First humans clothed themselves, then they started drawing on cave walls.” Meaning that “fashion” is in fact so integral to our sense of self, of personhood, it preceded all other forms of expression short of, possibly, language.

Sure, to call the clothing that enabled early humans to migrate out of Africa 170,000 years ago “self expression” might be a stretch, especially since we wouldn’t evolve the high order thinking skills that led to “art” for another 130,000 years, but still. Let’s just say our ancestors married form and function.

Either way, in the intervening centuries fashion has evolved as a form of language in and of itself–an aspect of personal visual culture that can be “read” with all the subtext, narrative arcs, and suspense of a good book. The stories of our “selves”–our bodies, our fears, our aspirations, our successes, our interests–are the stories we tell with our clothes. Continue reading

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Filed under Books + Literature, Clothes + Fashion, Reviews

Outfit of the Day Beyond 30: Boots Were Made for Power

Boots are Made for Power

The woman who wears
these shoes will be a warrior, will not think
about how wrong she is, how her calculations
look like the face of a clock with hands
ticking with each terrorizing minute. –Tina Chang, Duality 

Hello on this el Nino-warmed December day, Weird Sisters!

Whenever anyone points to the potential frivolity of style, I have a curator friend who says, “First we clothed ourselves, then we drew on cave walls.” Meaning that in the grand scheme of human development first came fashion, then came art. Fun fact about boots: The oldest known depiction of this tried and true footwear is in a Spanish cave painting that’s dated between 12,000 and 15,000 B.C.E.

First came boots. Then came art.

As you may or may not remember, about a month ago I put out a call for your best Power Outfits–your sartorial solutions to the onslaught of B.S. this world likes to throw; your enviable ensembles designed to strike fear in the hearts of slow walkers; or simply what you don to feel comfortable and confident when you travel to visit family.

I have to admit that I felt a little bad about adding to your list of things to do during the already busy holiday season, but I’m happy to report that a few of you took up the challenge in spite of your schedules…and boots showed up as key power players in both submissions.

Here are your stories. Continue reading

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Filed under Clothes + Fashion, Everything Else

Outfit of the Day Beyond 30 – Call for Submissions: Your Holiday Power Outfit

Grace Jones as May Day in her Power Outfit

“Vain trifles as the seem, clothes have, they say, more important offices than to merely keep us warm. They change our view of the world and the world’s view of us” — Virginia Woolf, Orlando

Hello Weird Sister readers! We don’t know each other, so let me introduce myself. I’m a woman named Michael with short hair, a smart mouth (thanks for the FYI, gran), and an undying love of personal style, runway fashion, and jackets with threatening collars.

I’m also, quite proudly, 36. And I’m here to launch Weird Sister‘s new personal style column for women over 30.  Continue reading

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Filed under Clothes + Fashion