Sunday, 31 July 2011

the intersection of fashion and culture

Photobucket

Photobucket

I look like a Barcelona housewife in this outfit, but that's neither here nor there. I'm not sure what's up with this dress; when I put it on and look in the mirror I see something swingy and casual and sort of chic, but when I look at photos I see, well, a housewife in a shapeless blue sack.. Whatever, some summer days it's so hot in Barcelona that you can't even think, let alone worry about what you're wearing.

Photobucket

Anyway, that aside, what I want to talk about are the shoes. I've recently acquired a couple (well three, but the more special ones have to wait for tomorrow's posts) pairs of shoes that aren't exactly fashionable, or even stylish, but appeal to the nostalgic and cultural explorer in me. Specifically, the two pairs above, are what a few years ago I would have dismissed as old lady shoes without a second thought... but now they represent life in Barcelona for me and I love them. Both types are worn by your average Catalan, young or old, male or female, interested in style or no, as a culturally specific form of summer survival gear. The red shoes, espardenyes, are probably typical not only to here but to much of Southern Europe, but for me they'll always be synonymous with Barcelona. As you can see, they're a fairly close but stripped down relative of the espadrille (über popular this year). The brown shoes are "menorquines," from the island of Menorca, and also seen basically everywhere.

I find it kind of delightful to reference a culture I grow increasingly fond of in my footwear, even if the reference is lost upon a number of my readers around the world. It feels like in an increasingly globalized world we can be inspired by fashions and traditions from all over, but the decade to decade definition of what the "good" silhouettes or styles are is ever narrowing as people around the world emulate the same designers or shop in the same stores. And sometimes it's just great to step back, to take a moment to connect with where you are, rather than what you are or who you are or what image you're trying to project, and dress like everyone else for a while... even if that leaves you looking paradoxically out of place in the virtual community.

Do you have anything in your wardrobe that is culturally dear to you? Is it from your own culture or another that you identify with?

Photobucket

P.S. The lizard design is a cute addition to my menorquines. In general they're just plain, and often a paler beige, although you can get them in most colours,
dress: second hand from Beacon's Closet, shoes: menoquines, earrings: Spank (Vancouver boutique)

26 comments:

❀Young Vintage Girl❀ said...

Oh My! Right when I seen the lizard shoes I feel in love they are just too cute! and You look Great By the way! :)

So Yeah So said...

I think you look good, but I totally understand the mirror vs. photo thing. I think some things just look better in motion. Kind of like how Daniel Radcliffe is so cute on screen, but then in still pictures he sometimes looks like Gollum.

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@So Yeah So: Haha, very original comparison. I might have to call this my Gollum dress from now on!

Closet Fashionista said...

Oooh I love those ones with the lizard! So fun :)
And yes, so true, sometimes it doesn't matter what you wear as long as you like it and it is YOU. I really wish I could write as well as you and write things that mean something XD
http://www.closet-fashionista.com/

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Closet Fashionista: I'm sure you can! I always enjoy your writings, especially your detailed budget breakdowns!

ashlee said...

I just stumbled on your blog and I love it! I'm so jealous that you've gotten to do so much traveling, maybe someday when I'm out of debt I can too! And to answer your question, I don't have anything culturally significant to me. I would love to visit Wales or Scotland someday since those are where the majority of my heritage is made up of<3

Monique said...

Emily you are one genuine lady. I love that you don't care that the dress ended up looking housewife-ish. I love those red shoes! As for my closet... I have amazing sandals that were handmade in Brazil and I haven't shown them on my blog but where them to work quite often...the strap just broke on Friday...hope it can be repaired. They remind me of my time in Brazil. They aren't traditional though...sort of a stylish version of traditional handmade flat sandals.

Ashley said...

I am in love with the first picture...with the shoes and the leaf and the street. It fits well with the title of this post :)

And yes, I wear my Turkish evil eye ALL THE TIME and often get looks from that. I welcome it though, because then I get to talk about Turkey :)

And do you have a twitter em?

April said...

That happens to me a lot, too. I like the way something looks in a mirror and then I see a picture of it and I'm like wait, what?

CessOviedo said...

I love the custumized sandals, little lizard looks so cute!

Cess O. <3 The Outfit Diaries

freed mode said...

very cute shoes and like your dress simple and efficace love that .

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Monique: I don't mind at all in real life if I look like a housewife (some situations excepted). I do kind of mind on my blog though...feel I should be looking my best. There's something wrong with that logic...

Sewon said...

Ohh that blue dress looks beautiful on you! And I really love the brown shoes. I hope I'll get to visit Spain sometime!

Jul said...

I actually like the shoes and also the dress, it looks perfect for the summer heat.
I also love the fact that when you're wearing those shoes you are concious that they belong to a colture, and that they're not just something stylish and/or in fashion.
I don't really know if I have something in my wardrobe that I can define "culturally dear", but I can understand perfectly what you're saying.

http://lifeisaromanticpoem.blogspot.com/

Emily, Resplendent Tranquility said...

I very much like the concept of dressing to fit your surroundings, though I haven't had much opportunity to do it (culturally [other than my own] speaking). There are so many ways to experience and appreciate other cultures, so why not do so through traditional dress and footwear as well (regardless of what's popular or the style ''norm''). I don't really have any garment culturally dear to me, per se, but would love to get my mitts on some traditional Polish garb. While most branches of my family have been established here for a very long time, my Polish family was the last to come over. Thus, I've always felt an urge to identify with that. And I guess this kinda fits in with the topic: a dear friend brought me home a beautiful blouse from Bangladesh and I love it for what it symbolizes- her dearness to me and Bangladesh's dearness to her.

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Emily: I think that's a really nice way to look at it. And I would be lying if I didn't admit that a lot of my affection for Catalan cultural items stems from my affection for various people I've met. Principally my boyfriend of course, though in the case of the shoes I suppose a few others were more influential.. : )

sojourned in style said...

marvelous shoes, the lizard print is priceless. your style is so culturally aware and I like that you've absorbed it into what you wear, even if some could view it as "conforming" when so many are individualistically wired. I don't really have anything culturally dear to me, I wish I could, but I get completely what your getting at.

dusanabotswana said...

I think those sandals are super cute and actually always thought of getting then while I was in Spain and would walk by stores with them in every color! Plus they are cool in Catalunya, which in my book means people who go for basic and traditionally comfy outfits rather than just whatever's hot right now (like some areas of Spain). I also love that those shoes seem to be made from natural material on the bottoms... Anyway, you dont like like a housewife at all! Although Spanish housewives did seem WAY more stylish than American housewifes too me. Europeans are just better at not being extreme (either a super hot mom or super frumpy) and then of course in their lifestyles as well but that could be a whole blog post.. And I'm sure you know I love my Mexican blouses, which remind me of the beautiful places I got them : )

whitemaskgirl said...

As I belong to a minority people here in Sweden, I am rather proud over the two cultures (swedish and meänkieli) I have grown up in and around. I got a few accesories representing my heritage, like a small "thinking man" which I carry with me whereever I go.

I am also inspired alot by the english culture, the shapes and patterns they have there is incredible, and I own an umbrella which for me represents the essence of England.

Those shoes you have is something I would say being ugly pretty. They are all about function, not so much style, but they still got a special charm to it. Especially the red one's are incredible. :)

Tashrin said...

I feel that way all the time. Accessories from my culture and ethnic patterns and color combinations from all over the world are my favorite things to wear combined with classic western style shoes like brogues, riding boots and such. That leaves me dressed up a bit differently than the rest of the blogsphere but it is very much me, and isn't that the main point of a blog, to express your individuality?

Terri said...

Of all three pair, I would say the menorquines are my favorites. While there is a style that is characteristic of my particular region in Kansas--floral dresses for women, jeans, cowboy boots and western shirts for men, I would not say that I emulate it.

Penny said...

I enjoyed reading this post because I had never thought about the correlation between shoes and countries which is absolutely true!
In Greece, everyone is wearing this kind of sandals ( http://tinyurl.com/3oxqx5b ) and I buy at least one pair every year! And of course, since I came to rainy UK I can't leave on a trip without oxfords ;)

Penny said...

ps)btw, I would like to add one more voice to the crowd that says how cute the menoquines are!

Stef / Diversions said...

Love the way the lizard is moving across both shoes :)

I love my dirndls although they haven't appeared on the blog outside my Austria posts yet. I wear them over here too though, although I leave off the apron when I wear it to the office :D

Celynne said...

Okay. Those shoes, with the little lizard halves on them? Awesome! Wish I had shoes with that.

I have the misfortune of living somewhere that doesn't really have its own culture. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Boooring. Closest thing I can think of is a tuque, and that's not special...

Emily, Ruby Slipper Journeys said...

@Celynne: Well, I'm Canadian and I think tuques can be kind of special. Also lumberjack shirts, etc. Plus there's lots of native stuff that while it's not our culture, we can still enjoy it and appreciate our proximity to it.

Oh yeah, and I adore my Hudson Bay blanket--and scarf!