A Study in Contrast Part 1:
Skirts + Combat Boots
Or “How my Ex-Prof Influenced my Style.”
Photo via Stockholm Street Style
"Why would you want coherence and harmony from youth? Youth is about mashing, breaking and reassembling life to find new answers for your generation. That’s one of the reasons youth moves fashion, they haven’t found their harmony yet, and I’m thankful for that.” –Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist
Welcome to our NEW monthly column on Wear Your Invisible Crown called “A Study in Contrasts.” (Please click on the “Study in Contrasts” label below to view our introductory article). This column will examine ensembles that may seem atrocious-looking on paper, but in reality, exude pure intrigue. The ‘philosophy’ behind this column is that youngsters often turn to fashion to mirror their befuddled identities and subconscious quirks, thus resulting in outfits that juxtapose a variety of aesthetics and stylistic influences.
Photo via www.Luckymag.com
I personally have a tendency to pair oxfords or combat boots with flared, floral skirts (hence Alexa Chung is one of my favorite style icons). But seriously, if I can, then I will wear this kind of ensemble. Overtime, I became addicted to mixing the masculine with the feminine.
One morning in October, I unexpectedly paused during my mad dash to college. I was in middle of tying my laces, when the dancing light of an epiphany blazed over my weathered combat boots. The reason why I was drawn to masculine + feminine pairings was suddenly revealed (albeit at the very inconvenient time of trying to catch the Q train).
This epiphany involved one of my ex-college professors. Let’s call him Mr. K.I.A (which stands for “Know-It-All”)
Photo via www.TheSartorialist.com
Mr. K.I.A harbored a slightly bizarre animosity towards me. He would often croon the praises of the other girls' gutsiness and ambition, while devaluing my effeminate nature and soft-spoken persona. He would dole out approval to each girl, and then he would pause at me: "You, Rebecca, have a dominating feminine side. You barely speak up in class. Your presence is as weak as your voice." I simultaneously appreciated and despised this critique. I realized he was correct, but I loathed that he mortified me in front of the class. Still, I walked back to my house dwelling on this thought: was my sheltered past and natural girlishness hindering my success?
Soon after this incident, I unconsciously turned to clothing to become the symbolic torch of the “masculine” pluck I so desperately craved for. The kind of pluck that my professor said I “needed.” As an observant Jewish girl, I knew that I couldn’t rely on a pair of trousers or ripped jeans to represent my newfound backbone. So, instead, I chose a pair of beige Steve Madden combat boots. I would wear them with knee-length skirts in chiffon material or floral prints. The dichotomy of manly shoes with womanly clothes, in its uniquely sartorial way, embodied my personality.
My combat boots also began to enliven the inherent rawness and daring that were formerly smothered in uber-femininity. They were my weapon in unleashing the delicious boldness brooding beneath my otherwise satin-bowed, pink frilled self. In time I became increasingly confident, voiced my opinions more frequently, and became resistant when others chose not to take me seriously. 'Whatever happened to Professor Know-it-All?' you may ask. When I encountered him again, I simply stamped on his criticisms with the sole of my ballsy combat boot and watched his eyes flash with surprise.
So, there you have it my dear readers. This intensifying truth became apparent to me as I was casually stringing my laces on that October morning. I realized at that moment, more than ever, that “style is a simple way of saying complicated things" (Jean Cocteau). Furthermore, fashion is not only a visual portrayal of who we are, but also of the kind of person we would like to become.
My Steve Madden combat boots are a loyal testimony to that.