Saturday, July 10, 2010

My Styling "Aesthetic"


Earlier Draft:
I discovered this red jacket in my sister's closet during black-out week.

eyeglasses (Kate Spade)
black cami (Old Navy)
red short sleeved jacket (sister's closet)
black patent belt (H&M)
red and black rose print skirt (gift from my roommate in undergrad!)
flat t-strap sandals (gift from my godmother)

I'm prepared to make a pretty bold declaration concerning this ensemble:  This look represents my style "aesthetic" better than any other look I've posted here on the blog so far.

If you're a Project Runway fan (as I used to be, before the show lost me when it moved to LA and the Lifetime network), you've surely noticed the way they use the term "aesthetic."  Apparently, an aesthetic is a thing, and each designer has a different one.  I've written before about why I believe aesthetics is an egalitarian mode of evaluating the arts, a la Ranciere, but that seems to have little in common with the way the term is used in the design community. suggests that "aesthetic," when used as a noun, refers to a philosophical theory or idea of what is aesthetically valid at a given time and place.  I guess that fits with the way it's used on the show, but their use of the term seems even more specialized.  I think they use the term "aesthetic" to signify a hybrid between what we, in composition, would call "voice" and "point of view."  One's design aesthetic seems to relate to one's personal attitude toward fashion, how one demonstrates that attitude in the design of one's clothes, and how one differentiates one's own designs from those of others.

For example, you might hear the following uses of this term on Project Runway:
Nina Garcia: "I don't see any sign of taste in her aesthetic."
Michael Kors: "I think she has kind of a cool trailer trash meets outer space vixen meets Nabokov aesthetic."
Heidi Klum: "I like her aesthetic because it involves showing a lot of skin, and I favor micro-mini hem lengths and plunging necklines whenever possible."  (Okay.  Maybe Heidi isn't quite this self-aware.)

I don't know if stylists are said to have "an aesthetic" in the same way that designers are.  (Maybe Anne-Marie will weigh in here with her expertise as a devoted fan of The Rachel Zoe Project.)  But if I take this term and apply it to myself in order suggest I have a styling aesthetic, this ensemble is the quintessential representation of it.  Though I've never before worn these items together, when I styled this outfit up and looked in the mirror, I thought, "Wow.  If there was ever an outfit that could be described as Liz-ish, this is it."
Tailoring details that create visual interest?  Check.
A bright color paired with black?  Check.
Body conscious but tasteful?  Check.
Items that hold sentimental value?  Check.
Belted?  Check.

I felt great in this look all day.  I've already started giving thought to what I'll wear on my first day of teaching when the new semester begins, and this is the new frontrunner, though I'd likely wear a blank tank with a higher neckline underneath and pair it with my favorite black wedges instead.  I do like how the ensemble looks with these flats, but it might have helped the proportion here if I'd rolled the skirt over a few times so the hem fell just above my knee instead of below it.

  • Do you agree with how I've characterized the use of the term "aesthetic" on PR?  Want to share more general thoughts on the show with us?
  • Is it wrong to suggest that both designers and stylists develop this kind of an aesthetic?  In my opinion, designers and stylists seem to perform a lot of the same functions when it comes to putting a look together... but then again, I'd be kind of offended if someone suggested that writers and editors do basically the same job, so maybe I'm just ignorant of the differences.
  • Do you think you have a style "aesthetic"?  Does it take work to style looks that fit that aesthetic or does it just come together naturally for you?


Emma at Daily Clothes Fix said...

I love this look on you.

As for a style aesthetic, I don't really have one. It's more of what takes my fancy - sometimes playful and sometimes more dressy. I like to mix it up. But if I'm going outside my usual looks it will take me more time to style up.

Sadie's Momma said...

Perfect, as always! Loving this look, and the colors look amazing on you!!!

<3 kp

Don't forget to enter my Ruffled Tank giveaway!

Rad_in_Broolyn said...

Lovely red outfit. I don't really know if I have a style aesthetic, because I like to try out different looks. But I agree that this is very "you," complete with the tailored silhouette, professionalism, and cinched waist. Lookin' good.

gina said...

Those colors look great on you!