Oddly enough, I first started learning about pattern mixing, layering and all that stuff from interior decorating books and magazines (one of my passions for years). You probably know that I grew up in one of the coldest places on earth - Siberia, and back then (up till I was in my late 20s when I immigrated to a warmer climate) dressing in layering was what we did for survival, not for fashion. We did not call it "layering" though. It was as simple as put on an outfit (a skirt+top or a dress in most of occasions), and that was an outfit, and then, on the top of the outfit or as an addition to an outfit, you put layers and layers for warmth:
- something we call рейтузы in Russian (they would be made of wool or acrylic, or a mix)
- sometimes also legwarmers
- sometimes a few layers of one or each
Plus, of course, there would be
- a vest
- a cardigan
- a coat or fur coat
- a scarf
- a hat (fur hat in Winter)
And don't forget about wool socks and wool mittens (again, sometimes two pairs at once for warmth).
Winter in Russia bites. Winter in Siberia bites even harder. So you just keep layering things until it is bearable to walk outside, to wait for a bus, to sit in the bus (or in Soviet times, to stand in a bus because there were not enough buses and almost no chance to sit if you are not going to fight for it - and I never was a fighter, not even for things in life much bigger than a seat in a bus) for an hour or longer to get to your school or office.
We just layered stuff, but I never heard that someone would call it that.
When I started reading interior books, I discovered that you can mix any patterns as long as they have at least one color in common. Also, as a dive-in-and-see-where-it-takes-ya kind of person, I learned from my own experience that you don't need to know why you are attracted to this or that particular piece of furniture or accessory - just buy it and it all somehow will mix together beautifully at the end. Because all things we love mix beautifully and naturally, in unexpected and fresh ways - and that is what makes our style OURS.
I wish that realization came to me a little earlier about clothing too. Of course, most of my old clothing would be pretty useless now since it simply doesn't fit anymore. But I am glad that I brought some beloved pieces with me from Russia and I have no plans separating with them. They will be there - not even with the hope that my daughter (or granddaughter if I'll have one) will appreciate and wear them. No. They are there just for me. Just because I love them. Some of them are made by these very hands which right now are stringing the words together in sentences, and sentences in a text, and texts in a blog. (Have you ever thought that the blog is a new form of literature, a brand new genre, with a mix of features traditionally belong to such genres as diary, journal, epistolary novel, essay, short-shorts, etc? Have you ever thought that by writing a blog you've already been writing a book in a sense, and that the beauty of this particular genre is in its "in the moment" nature, alive, flowing, unfinished? In some ways, I appreciate blogs even more than I appreciate novels - and that's something, coming from a literature major.)
I don't think I mixed that many patterns at once in the same outfit before. It is something new to me - like so many things in this blog, I've done it for the first time in my life. Mixing patterns is something we think of as a current trend, but it is as old as the world itself. If you are familiar with the fantastic blog Local Fashion written by Olga Rani, you would notice that in every culture, with probably no exception at all, there are traditional costumes made of colorful pieces of fabric, with mixed patterns being almost a must! Look at a couple of Olga's posts here and here, for some exceptional examples. (Add beads, fur, mirror work, embroidery and some other fascinating details, and you'll get the idea where we borrowed the idea of mixing different textures in our current fashion.) I remember my grandmother, a simple farm woman, dressing up for a special occasion - it was always a floral country style dress made of cotton and a traditional floral Russian headscarf (platok) - always a mix of colors and patterns. I did not think much of babushka's outfits back then. How I wish to have this chance now to see how effortlessly she dresses up ... in a simple, organic, not thinky, not style-bloggy sort of way - just in a way that pleases her, playing with her very limited and mostly self-made wardrobe, pieces of which she held on to for many years.
I often say in my blog that I don't think much about my outfits. I like it when they come together effortlessly - sometimes more noteworthy than others, but I like it when they come together naturally. If I think of some perfect detail to emphasize the pattern of a piece of clothing I picked that day, that's fine. If I don't, that's fine too. There is always a chance to play it differently next time. Everything affects us - what's going on around and inside of us, the weather, the situations, the people. So why have a preconceived notion about the way to dress? I think we start owning our style when it comes together naturally and has a chance to mature. Because it's really not so difficult to figure out that blue goes with yellow, and green with red... What makes our style unique is what makes us unique - the process of discovering life and ourselves. The trials and errors we make. And that very particular feeling inside when it all clicks. That moment when you look in the mirror and what you see is you, and not the latest trends or the fabulous combination you've seen on another blogger. I like it when I see me in everything I do.
Tunic - thrifted (story in this post). Vest - Christopher and Banks (way old, taken from a bag full of ready to donate stuff). Pants - Chico's (last year). Flats - Attilio Giusti Leombruni (wow! what a name! Don't know anything about it, respect Italian shoemakers though; bought them on clearance at Nordstrom Rack, look for his stuff here). Crystal earrings from Russia (at least 15 years old). Birch bark ring made by my amazing brother Andrei (years ago, at least 8 or 9). Purse - B Makowsky (never a dull lining in those).
Everything denim by Chico's (jeans on clearance for only $20) - my first ever all'denim outfit.
Top thrifted (story here). Shoes - as above.
PS - title based on a comment by Justin. :)
Linking up with the wonderful
Anne of Spy Girl for 52 Pick-Me-UP: Pattern Max
Bella's Secondhand First (both blouses are thrifted) - cool memories of 90s
Come over to join the fun!