Why Jane Birkin? Why Now?

By the time I get home from my shift as a Special Ed Instructional Assistant, for LAUSD, I feel like an over-heated pup. My hair’s usually a mess after the students I work with play in it, my makeup’s blurry and soft focus, and my clothes a little more wrinkled and uncomfortable.

To get around looking like a total disaster every work day I often study style icons who magically appear comfortable, chic and elegant and try to imitate their style. This past year, with my stressful work schedule and school demands, I’ve been drawn more and more to Jane Birkin.

Tall and thin, like me, her uniform of jeans, tees, button-downs, sneakers and straw basket carry-alls looked very appealing and accessible. The last time I emulated her I wore a beige cotton Banana Republic jacket over a navy blue tee, from Forever 21, a pair of 1970’s style Levi’s I found at Ross Dress For Less for $2,99, a yellow cotton hat, aviator shades, and a yellow foulard print silk neckerchief.

Exhausted from another tiring week, I was surprised when the teacher I worked for insisted I have my picture taken with the class for Picture Day!

As I sat for my individual photo, I thought about my blog Every Day Fashion: Style for the Mainstream, and remembered I’d started it for moments like this and why I admired Jane Birkin. While there are spectacular moments that call for grandiose costumes there are also small ones that require attractive, well-made clothing that last for years.

Fast Fashion: Turning the Trend Around for the Better

Christian Dior

Before Christian Dior revolutionized women’s fashion, in 1947, he had one goal to replace the unsightly Zazou trend with his New Look. Forever 21, H & M, Uniqlo, Target and Zara hope to equally influential with low-cost goods for the budget-mined with big style dreams. Organizers as a fast fashion retail model their purpose is to fill stores with quickly manufactured merchandise based on catwalk and red carpet trends. What that means is that the moment it’s online it’s available soon after. Sadly, any concept this perfect, is bound to have major flaws too.

Pollution, and Other Problems

Target’s A New Day Outfit

Naysayers from the environmental and educational fields have been their biggest detractors lately citing pollution, over-consumption and poor quality as the top issues. To quiet the dissenting voices the fast fashion retailers have taken steps to repair their image.

Budget Shopping is the In Thing

1967 Summer of Love
Sharon Stone in black turtleneck and black Valentino gown

Rebellious, but fabulous, the younger generation of the 1960’s helped propel fast fashion and its instant availability. Another bonus was hipsters could be “in” for little money, allowing them to obtain different from their parents, without having to get their permission. The “it’s chic to pay less” fast fashion sentiment permeated popular culture from the “late 1990’s to the early 2000’s” ushering in an eclectic shopping style. Sharon Stone’s ingenious pairing of a “Gap turtleneck tee with a black Valentino gown” at the 1996 Oscar’s is an accurate example of this philosophy. In 2017, it might be demonstrated with a print coat from a thrift store over a maxi dress from Forever 21.

Qualitative Lifewear from Uniqlo

J.W. Anderson x Uniqlo

Concern over their target customer’s inability to recognize “quality” caused Uniqlo to rename their merchandise lifewear, and insist it uplifts instead of detracts. The collaboration they did with J.W. Anderson for a classic British-style capsule demonstrated this mindset perfectly. Target in a similar mode also upgraded its women’s wear with it’s A New Day line, adding another chapter to fast-fashion’s history.

Works Cited:

  1. Wong, Grace. “Fast fashion shopping: It’s cute, it’s cheap, but should you really buy it?” (Chicago Tribune, November 27, 2015, http://www.chicagotribune.com)
  2. Idacavage, Sara. “Fashion History Lesson: The Origins Of Fast Fashion” (Fashionista, June 8, 2016, https://www.fashionista.com)