Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Foof and Its Discontents

Thanks to Lindsey for her post and especially for the photos, though I don't really think they capture the impact of a well-thought-out Boldt ensemble.

As promised, let’s briefly discuss foof. Foof or foofy -- I have heard it both ways -- refers to items of clothing or style that are very feminine. Girlie. Some people just don’t go there. I have seen Alli Warren arrive at work at 9 wearing earrings only to ditch them before 10. On the other hand, there are those of us who never met a ruffle or a spangle we didn’t like. Alli would helpfully send me vest websites back in the day and I have some vests but tend to wear them with frilly blouses (or as frilly as is currently possible, which is not frilly at all, alas.) Many people foof it up when they go to a party of some event but others always amp it, wearing necklaces, pins, scarves, bracelets, and other accoutrements -- as for example fans. (Is it hot in her or is it me?) Guy foof can be subtle but of course exists – hats, ties when not required (esp bow ties). I don’t actually think gender preference matters here, unless we are talking about feathers. I am sure I don’t have to say that Brandon’s pearls count. The great goddess of foof was Frida Kahlo who painted herself wearing a fair amount of ornament even when she was bedridden. As is well known, I am completely unafraid of foofing it to the max, though I try to exercise restraint.

Is the tattoo as aspect of foof? Is it ornamental? I tend to think yes, but invite comment.

This leads us to another sensitive issue – age appropriate fashion. Here we need to fall back on the rule of not scaring people. Just two words here – underdo it. We could call this the Cher Rule. Consider dressing older than you are. That way you actually look younger – unless you are, you know, 25 or something, in which case consider not dressing like a high school person. Okay I’m being a bit dickish here. A nice current trend in foof is the Barbara Bush pearl necklace worn by someone young, usually with a knit dress that looks easy to wear but, darlings, give it some thought before going there. If gravity is a problem for you – well you know who you are, or I should say we know who we are.

About costumes. (And as per Nada's post. You're going to have to scroll a bit here.) I am basically for them because they cause a level of discomfort and weariness that I think can be edifying, especially after a few hours. A line of mine – I think this is from Symmetry – “Virtures smoking in the corner “ is about costume. I urged poets to wear masks for the San Francisco Poetry Extravaganza that SPD hosted (thank you Poetry Foundation) at the MLA in December. Some poets refused to wear masks and sent peevish emails about the very idea of it. Others went all out. While we weren’t exactly costumed, Brent and I exhausted ourselves by wearing masks in the glare of the lights while we introduced everybody. I enjoyed the jaded feeling I had with too much glitter amid too many poets. I had foofed it a bit with a white silk top that was part nightie, part smock. With black jeans. Of course it’s not something you want to experience every day.

An ancillary counter-foof issue is not wanting attention. I don’t like too much of it myself and understand that often dressing in jeans and a black top or jeans and a green top (or t-shirt with oblique sports team or old business logo), for a big change, occurs because you want to slide in under the radar and communicate only to a chosen few, with your pastel keds or whatever your group likes, that you’ve still got it. I get that. Then if you add at least one annoying or hilarious detail you will at least be able to stay awake when you look in the mirror.

I realize that I need to do a little more research to continue with this thread so, watch out, the next time you see me my camera might be pointed at your “outfit.”


Blogger Jennifer Manzano said...

See, I think I always heard it as froof or froofy? I'm not sure.

(I started writing more, but it turned out that it felt ridiculously long for a comment, so I guess it's going on my own blog...)

10:16 AM  
Blogger Laura Moriarty said...

Froof? I like it.

10:17 AM  
Blogger BB said...

I really like how this quickly turned into a sort of sartorial advice column! Luckily some of the wisdom is applicable to men's fashion so I can still come to learn something.

It also made a lot of sense with my reading right now. I just read the introduction and first chapter of The Fashioned Body by Joanne Entwistle. She alludes to a previous work that was about the emergence of "Dressing for Success" in the 1980's--specifically with regards to women's clothes. Probably low on foof. But her work seems to want to approach fashion by synthesizing Foucault's work on power and Merleau-Ponty's work on the body. It's kind of great, actually. But there's no good advice. Anyway, gender is a big concern for her. For example, she did examine the history of the corset, its disappearance and re-emergence as "a corset of muscle". Right!?


men's foof. Oh big time. I mean, part of the gender performance of men's fashion, at its most normative, is the "wear a suit and don't think about it" thing. dandyism at its extreme is the reverse--I like to think that my "Cher mode" (that is really weird by the way) is something in between. I mean, for me, the best men's fashion on earth takes place in the city of Florence, Italy. That is perfection. The epitome of careful dressing that is essentially conservative, gentlemanly, and always has a weird detail.

but I am embittered, Laura. You've got to have the likes of Alli Warren and Lindsey Boldt (and, hey, those boys in there aren't too shabby!). I work in the Financial District. shiver me timbers!

4:17 PM  
Blogger Laura Moriarty said...

Speaking of advice, if only I could take it as well as give it. Hoisted myself by my own petard yesterday wearing a sundress from Target that was knee length (but I think a bit too short for me) black leggings, black pashmina, and a black silk overblouse (also Target). Toenails were great in violet poking out of black sandals but everything else seemed off and I had all I could do to make it through the day.

Reading The Fashioned Body made me want to wear suits. I think that was the book that emboldened me to drop a bundle on a Zelda frock coat a few years ago.

7:45 AM  
Blogger Robin Tremblay-McGaw said...

Love yr posts on fashion. Check out the sartorialist blog. It is fab. How about a writer's version? Are you doing this on facebook? I'm still resisting facebook...

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