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robertogreco : pesonaluniforms   10

Metafoundry 30: Confusion Matrices
"WE ARE THE DOOM SQUAD: In this fantastic interview for Rawr Denim, William Gibson talks about clothing and fashion: “There’s an idea called “gray man”, in the security business, that I find interesting. They teach people to dress unobtrusively. Chinos instead of combat pants, and if you really need the extra pockets, a better design conceals them. ...[T]here’s something appealingly “low-drag” about gray man theory: reduced friction with one’s environment.” That made me wonder: “What does a 'grey woman' look like?”, which made me think about how Deborah Tannen used the linguistics terms marked and unmarked to describe gender and clothing. Just as many English words are default male (unmarked), with a changed ending to connote female (marked; think 'actor' vs 'actress'), she argued that men's dress can be unmarked but women's dress is always marked. That is, there are decisions that men make about what they wear that are defaults, that aren’t even seen as a decision. In contrast, every decision that a woman makes about what she wears—heels vs, flats, pants vs, skirts, the length of a skirt and the height of a neckline, haircuts, jewelry—is freighted with cultural baggage. Take makeup. Especially in professional settings, for a woman, not wearing makeup is a noticeable, and notable, decision: marked. But for a man, not wearing makeup is not a decision—nobody notices when men aren't wearing makeup: unmarked. (Of course, a man wearing makeup is very marked indeed.)

Since I was a tween, I've been mostly wearing black clothes (with a bit of grey), no branding, minimal ornamentation, and simple lines. Right now, my wardrobe mostly consists of black jeans and trousers and a few skirts and dresses, t-shirts, hoodies, jackets (worn according to the formality of the event). Given the historically snowy weather in Boston this winter, some of my more technical outerwear and other clothing was folded into my regular wardrobe by necessity, which resulted in an aesthetic that a friend described as ‘cyberpunk Winter Soldier’. Contra Gibson’s description of Cayce Pollard Units, I’m not sure there are any women’s clothes that could have been unremarkably worn between 1945 and 2000; for a start, that my clothes are monochrome has been remarked on regularly since I was a teenager, not least because black has a long history of cultural connotations of its own.

The aesthetic choice to wear black that I made when my parents were still buying my clothes was cemented when I was an undergraduate and graduate student (almost all of my teens and twenties), because black clothes are an intensely practical choice when the phrase ‘disposable income’ is an oxymoron. I remember this Glenn O’Brien article in SPIN from 1985, in which (once you get past the casual homophobia and the implicit assumption that women are not reading it, and possibly not even sentient beings) he makes the case for that practicality—how black clothes don’t show dirt or damage much (useful when you can't easily afford to replace something if you spill coffee on it), and how they’re appropriate for a wide range of social settings. And all shades of black match, which is more than you can say for other colours. But what wearing black mostly meant to me was that I could make decisions about purchasing clothes and accessories on just one axis—functionality—without worrying about colour. When I gave talks at research conferences or went off to interviews for a postdoctoral position, I had exactly one purse and one pair of good dress shoes and one briefcase and I could still be guaranteed that I had a coordinated outfit.

The roots of the ‘Grey Man’ lie in the Great Male Renunciation: the period around the end of the 17th century, in the middle of the Enlightenment, when society collectively decided that men’s clothing, previously as colourful and ornamented as women’s, was to be dark, sober and serious. What’s kind of astonishing is how we've never really gone back—a quick scroll through red-carpet photos makes that clear—and how we mostly just accept this sexual dimorphism as the norm. Just why men's clothing has never returned to pre-GMR levels of finery is something I’ll leave to historians and sociologists, but it’s almost certainly related to the harsh enforcement of gender norms—while women can wear colours and clothing styles indistinguishable from men’s (as I write this, I’m wearing black jeans, a black t-shirt, and Camper high-tops), the slightest hint of femininity in men’s self-presentation elicits verbal abuse at best, and the worst is far worse.

I have more money to spend on clothes than I did as a grad student, so the quality of what I wear has gone up markedly (Fluevog Derby Swirls instead of steel-toed police boots from the surplus store), but what passes for my personal aesthetic has been pretty constant for two decades. Gibson talks about ‘reduced friction with one’s environment’, and that’s an element of how I dress: wearing a de facto uniform means that I spend very little time getting dressed in the morning, and makes it infinitely easier to pack for the frequent travel I do. Fran Lebowitz (who herself wears a gender-bending daily uniform) defends this move in a recent interview with Elle: “[T]here's nothing wrong in not caring. A man who doesn't care about what he looks like, he's applauded. We say, 'Oh, he's not superficial!'” My own personal Great Female Renunciation is tolerated in my professional environment of academic engineering. But, if you’re a woman, it’s almost impossible to eliminate the social friction around what you’re wearing: as Tannen noted, the way you dress is always perceived (and judged) by others, no matter how much you try to be unremarkable. You can turn this to your advantage: as Lebowitz puts it, “What's so great thing [sic] about clothes is that they're artificial—you can lie, you can choose the way you look, which is not true of natural beauty.” So while there isn't really a 'grey woman', you have more options for active camouflage. But, of course, most of us aren't super-sekrit agents, and this social scrutiny is always in action. It infuriates me when my female students are routinely asked if they have a date when they wear something other than a t-shirt and jeans, are told they are ‘too pretty’ to be engineers, or when my female academic colleagues are presumed, implicitly or explicitly to be less ‘serious’ if they are ‘too’ well put together.

I mostly think about the semiotics of what I wear in the same way that C.P. Snow is said to have described the three laws of thermodynamics: "You can’t win. You can’t break even. You can’t quit the game." There’s a reason why women care deeply about fashion—because it matters. Because it affects how literally everyone you encounter treats you. Given this, the depth of feeling in stories about wardrobes like those recounted in Sheila Heti’s Women in Clothes make more sense. I am acutely aware of the social and professional privilege that means I can opt-out of ‘dressing for success’ (I already have the job I want), although I’m certainly cognizant of what I’m leaving on the table by not paying much attention to style (for me, spending my time and money on other things is a fair trade; the value proposition is different for every woman) and that the specific way that I don't care about fashion is also a statement ('you can't quit the game'). It's common for men to demonstrate mild (or strong) disdain for how much women care about fashion or how much money women spend on clothes. But they are mostly just demonstrating a complete lack of awareness of a semiotic system that women are required to participate in, in order to accrue both economic and social benefits, which men are largely exempt from. "
debchachra  2015  uniforms  uniformproject  glvo  gender  clothing  howwedress  semiotics  williamgibson  caycepollard  color  daborahtannen  greyman  glenno'brien  franlebowitz  cpsnow  sheilaheti  womeninclothes  privilege  presentationofself  identity  freedom  signaling  pesonaluniforms 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Uniform Project
"Uniform Project was born in May 2009, when one girl pledged to wear a Little Black Dress for 365 days as an exercise in sustainable fashion. Designed to also be a fundraiser for the education of underprivileged children in India, the project acquired millions of visitors worldwide and raised over $100k for the cause. U.P then continued into Year 2 with a monthly series of select Pilots taking on the 1-Dress challenge for causes of their choice. Today, women around the world continue to take on the 1 Dress challenge and wear U.P LBDs as an expression of socially conscious fashion."
uniforms  clothing  uniformproject  sustainability  art  design  fashion  sheenamatheiken  glvo  pesonaluniforms 
march 2015 by robertogreco
The Science Of Simplicity: Why Successful People Wear The Same Thing Every Day
"Have you ever thought about how much time you likely waste deciding what to wear in the morning? It’s probably made you late to school or work more times than you can count.

We waste so many precious moments concerning ourselves with frivolous details. An outfit will not change the world, it probably won’t even change your day.

This is not to say that fashion isn’t important, as it has an immense impact on culture and, in turn, the direction of society.

Indeed, fashion is where art, culture and history intersect. If we look at the 1960s, for example, the way people dressed was very much a reflection of the counterculture movement and the anti-establishment sentiments of the era.

Simply put, clothes can tell us a lot about sociology.

Yet, at the same time, we’ve arguably become an excessively materialistic and superficial society. Undoubtedly, there are greater things to worry about than clothes.

Similarly, as the great American author Henry David Thoreau once stated:
Our life is frittered away by detail.

…Simply, simplify.

In essence, don’t sweat the small stuff. Make your life easier by concentrating on the big picture.

Correspondingly, a number of very successful people have adopted this philosophy in their daily routines.

Decision Fatigue: Why Many Presidents And CEOs Wear The Same Thing Every Day

Whether you love or hate him, it’s hard to argue against the notion that President Obama has the most difficult job in the world. As the leader of the most powerful country on the planet, the president has a lot on his plate.

Regardless of what he does, he will be criticized. Simply put, he’s got a lot of important things to think about beyond his wardrobe.

This is precisely why President Obama wears the same suit every single day. Well, almost every day, we can’t forget about the time the Internet exploded when he wore a khaki suit. Although, that probably says less about him and more about us.

The majority of the time, however, Obama wears either a blue or gray suit. In an article from Michael Lewis for Vanity Fair, the president explained the logic behind this routine:
‘You’ll see I wear only gray or blue suits’ [Obama] said.

‘I’m trying to pare down decisions. I don’t want to make decisions about what I’m eating or wearing. Because I have too many other decisions to make.’ He mentioned research that shows the simple act of making decisions degrades one’s ability to make further decisions.

As Stuart Heritage puts it for the Guardian, “Barack Obama has pared his wardrobe down to such a degree that he can confidently walk into any situation and make decisions that directly impact on the future of mankind.”

The president is not alone in this practice. The late, great, Steve Jobs wore his signature black turtleneck with jeans and sneakers every single day.

Moreover, Mark Zuckerberg typically wears a gray t-shirt with a black hoody and jeans when seen in public. Similarly, Albert Einstein reportedly bought several variations of the same gray suit so that he wouldn’t have to waste time deciding what to wear each morning.

This is all related to the concept of decision fatigue. This is a real psychological condition in which a person’s productivity suffers as a result of becoming mentally exhausted from making so many irrelevant decisions.

Simply put, by stressing over things like what to eat or wear every day, people become less efficient at work.

This is precisely why individuals like President Obama, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Albert Einstein decided to make life easier by adopting a monotonous wardrobe.

Obviously, as these are some of the most successful and productive individuals in history, they are on to something.

Make Life Simple

Indeed, having a diverse collection of clothing is overrated. We waste so much time worrying about things that have no substantial consequences, and don’t even realize how easily we could change this.

This is exactly why President José Mujica of Uruguay rejects conformity and refuses to wear a tie, stating:
The tie is a useless rag that constrains your neck.

I’m an enemy of consumerism. Because of this hyperconsumerism, we’re forgetting about fundamental things and wasting human strength on frivolities that have little to do with human happiness.

He’s absolutely right. The vast majority of us are guilty of obsessing over material things. When it comes down to it, they bring no real value to our lives. True fulfillment is acquired by going out into the world and fostering palpable and benevolent changes.

Buying a new pair of shoes might make you feel more confident in the short-term, but it will not enrich your life in the long-term.

Undoubtedly, the world would be an extremely boring place if we all wore the same exact thing every day.

Yet, we might all consider simplifying our lives a bit more by reducing the amount of time we spend thinking about pointless aspects of our day. In the process, one might find that they are significantly less stressed, more productive and more fulfilled.

Life is complicated enough, don’t allow the little things to dictate your happiness. Simplify, simplify."
uniforms  clothing  fashion  minimalism  choices  2014  barackobama  stevejobs  markzuckerberg  johnhaltiwanger  uniformproject  josémujica  alberteinstein  glvo  thoreau  pesonaluniforms 
march 2015 by robertogreco
How the iPhone and iPad transformed the art of David Hockney - Los Angeles Times
"He also loved the mobility. When the iPhone, with its brushes app, was released, Hockney was enthusiastic, making sketches with his thumbs. But when the iPad came out, with its larger screen, he got one right away.

It was bigger, but it still fit into the pockets he had sown into his jackets for his sketchbook. And now, when he traveled out doors and was inpired to make a sketch, he no longer needed to lug around boxes of drawing pencils and paints."

[See also this quote from Austin Kleon's Steal Like An Artist: 10 Things Nobody Told You About Being Creative:

"Artist David Hockney had all the inside pockets of his suit jackets tailored to fit a sketchbook. The musician Arthur Russell liked to wear shirts with two front pockets so he could fill them with scraps of score sheets."

That quote comes via https://www.flickr.com/photos/russelldavies/16601707876/ ]
davidhockney  2013  ipad  iphone  pockets  alterations  clothing  arthurrussell  preparedness  glvo  pesonaluniforms  urbanspacesuit  accessibility  access  tools  toolkits  portability  mobility  uniforms 
march 2015 by robertogreco
Have you ever wanted a uniform? | Root Simple
"See, I’ve always wanted a uniform. I love the idea of never having to decide what I’m going to wear again. The older I get, the more I want to keep things simple. I don’t want a closet packed with potential decisions. The less choices I have to make on a daily basis, the better. I think I’d be okay living in a cave with nothing but a robe and a wooden bowl.

As of now, my wardrobe is limited in both type (practical) and color (cool neutrals), which helps, but its not as simple as it could be. I still end up standing in front of the closet wondering “Black short sleeved shirt? White long sleeved shirt? Or is this a t-shirt day?”

I want even fewer options.

The uniform fantasy has been with me for a long time, although the uniform type changes. I’ve never taken the leap into wearing a uniform, though, for two reasons. The first is simply that I’ve been too lazy to construct a uniform. The second is that it is a rather eccentric move– adopt a uniform, and you become known for wearing that uniform more than anything else.

I suppose that if you’re super famous, like Tom Wolfe (white suit) or Erik Satie (identical velvet suits) you can wear the same thing every day and nonetheless your work and your personality will rise above that eccentricity. But I’ve feared that if I wore a uniform I’d become one of those strange local characters, like “the kilt guy” or “the bathrobe lady.”

Still, I do like the idea of fashioning a garment which suits all of my needs (fit, comfort, pockets, good fabric etc.) and making it my very own.

I also like to think that having a uniform would eventually save in laundry and reduce material waste over time. It would harken back to the days when people simply didn’t have more than a handful of outfits to wear, but those outfits fit them well and lasted a long time because they were made of quality materials.

Lately I’ve been obsessing over the outfit at the top of the post, which dates from Russia (or rather, the newborn USSR) in the 1920′s and various Internet attributions say it was designed by Nadezhda Lamanova and Vera Muhina, or perhaps designed by Lamanova and illustrated by Muhina, or perhaps even designed by Muhina alone–although she was primarily a sculptor. To make things more confusing, to me, this outfit seems very much like something Varvara Stepanova would design. It was a small community of people collaborating and doing similar things, so it’s easy to get confused."

[via: http://boingboing.net/2015/01/02/making-a-uniform-for-daily-wea.html ]
uniforms  2014  glvo  kellycoyne  ussr  russia  nadezhdalamanova  veramuhina  varvarastepanova  design  fashion  clothing  clothes  pesonaluniforms 
january 2015 by robertogreco
timoni.org - Why I wear the same thing every day, and what I wear.
Nice outline of how to simplify life through choosing a 'uniform'. Kind of unbelievable that she gets harsh criticism in the comments... if it doesn't work for you, don't do it!
clothing  fashion  design  timoniwest  sanfrancisco  uniforms  lifehacks  via:TomC  personaluniforms  pesonaluniforms 
june 2012 by robertogreco
Men Shop in Bulk - NYTimes.com
"WOMEN shop, men stockpile. That’s one theory, anyway, of how men buy clothes differently from women. If women see shopping as an opportunity, a social or even therapeutic activity, the thinking goes, then men see it as a necessary evil, a moment to restock the supply closet.

At the risk of perpetuating sex stereotypes, the archetype may have been Steve Jobs. When Mr. Jobs died in October, he left behind not only a peerless legacy, but a closet full of identical black cotton turtlenecks by Issey Miyake. “If he loved a shirt, he’d order 10 or 100 of them,” his sister, the author Mona Simpson, said in her eulogy.

It was an obsession that many men could relate to. Here, stylish New Yorkers reflect on their wardrobe hoarding."

[via http://kottke.org/11/12/the-men-who-shop-in-bulk ]
2011  comfort  habits  harrybelafonte  marcussamuelsson  clothesshopping  clothing  apparel  fashion  scottcampbell  paulsevigny  paulbirardi  billyreid  christopherbollen  jonathangalassi  gabeschulman  gregfoley  ianbradley  fabienbaron  chuckclose  michaelwilliams  graydoncarter  uniforms  personaluniforms  stockpiling  cv  shopping  women  men  gender  pesonaluniforms 
december 2011 by robertogreco

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