May 23, 2011

Broke Poets and Spring Fashion: Things More than $1

by Ana Božičević

I've been reading with delight all the poets' fashion-takes here on Delirious Hem, in wake of Oprah's poets-wear-spring-fashion piece, where beautiful poets were depicted wearing thousands of dollars in clothes. (Full disclosure: I was one of the, apparently, dozens of poets who did the casting call for Oprah's fashion thing, and witnessed the pristine cafeteria of the Hearst building.) Some poets (bless their hearts!) may be able to afford pricey duds, but I have a sneaking suspicion many are more like me -- self-sustaining and modest of means. It's interesting to be this in a city/culture that is all about ka-ching. What came of this casting, after the novelty and the gentle humiliation of the brief experience wore off, was I started paying more attention to how much $ I was wearing -- a closer consciousness of the monetary and thus cultural value of my clothes. Simultaneously I've been reading Eileen Myles's "Inferno," which champions (poet-style-wise) this devil-may-care I-found-my-shirt-on-a-stoop one-dollar-in-my-pocket downtown carelessness -- awesome but also quite conscious.

In the spring, I revisit dresses. This winter I've been on a menswear kick (mostly mental), but with the sun I've begun rooting around for dresses. I have a love/hate relationship with femme attire -- I can never just wear it without analyzing its implications to death -- but the spring endorphins are helping and this week, I'm enjoying just wearing a dress. Since I don't want to spend money on clothes, I dug deep for some outfits from my existing trove. Here are two (the one on the left is today's):

And here's the rundown of how much these duds cost:

glasses: $3.50, H&M
scarf: gift from India (thanks, Priya!)
jacket: gift/loan from Amy (thanks, Amy!)
bracelet: $3.50, H&M
dress: mother's or grandmother's? -- found in a drawer at the farmhouse
belt: $6, H&M
tights: $4, H&M
shoes: $19, Payless
purse: gift from sister-in-law (thanks, Zoe!)
book bag: free with free NYer subscription (gift from sister-in-law -- ditto)
TOTAL outfit: $36

jacket: gift from Amy
dress: $25 or something like that, H&M
belt: $6, H&M (same)
raincoat: ancient hand-me-down
tights: $4, H&M (same)
shoes: $19, Payless (same)
purse and book bag: see above (free)
TOTAL: $54

The only item purchased "this season" are the sunglasses. The old ones broke. Boringly + busily, over the years I've picked up quite a few items from H&M, two of which are conveniently located on my walk to and from work. No mystery there. But what I've really enjoyed about this exercise was noting all the hand-me-downs & gifts. People have given to me and I'm wearing them, in a way. It's ... how to say... priceless, my friends.

What kind of dollar-store treasures are you wearing? Speak to me of the people (Grandma is the best brand!) you're sporting. There's a store close to our house called "THINGS MORE THAN ONE DOLLAR." I love how it could be two or a thousand. It could be anything.

Bio: Ana Božičević is a poet and translator. Her Stars of the Night Commute (Tarpaulin Sky Press, 2009) was a Lambda Literary Award in Poetry finalist. She is a PhD candidate in English & Program Manager at The Graduate Center, CUNY, where she helped found Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, and the Annual Chapbook Festival. With Amy King, she co-edits the journal esque.

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