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Back in the Smock

Probably nobody is wondering, but just in case one little person out there is dying to know, I thought I’d update you on the latest in the smock experiment.  I’m back in the smock, this time without all the fall-winter layers underneath.  I love the bare legs and boots, as you can see in the photo below, but I will confess that it’s a lot of dress for the hotter/more humid days.  By the last days of this month – the end of this smock’s tenure – I will probably be sporting sandals and a tank and sweating to get to July 1.

A few things are different about it this time.  For one thing, the novelty’s worn off a little.  In 2008 I’m not not buying anything, so the transgressiveness of the smock being one of the few things I’ve purchased this year is moot.  I guess it was giving me a little charge every time I wore it.  For another, my office eliminated its dress code early this year, so the boundaries between the smock and my work clothes are a lot less clear.  It seems I liked the definition or divide it was providing between work and the rest of my life.  I was wearing it about once a week even with the dress code, but I would carefully consider if my boots looked nice enough or if the shirt I was wearing underneath was one of my “dressier” ones. Somehow these little subtleties made the experiment feel more rigorous.  Now I’ll just end up in it because I forgot to bring something else or I’m going somewhere after work and it’s easier not to change. 

Wearing it for every single thing may be closer to Andrea Zittel’s original idea for the smock, but my version of the experiment helped me make some very interesting distinctions between my social/art life and the other things that I do.  I started seeing activities as “in” activities or “out” activities, which didn’t necessarily correspond with leaving my apartment.  For example, going to the corner store to get a pint of milk is definitely “staying in.”  But going to the museum, even if I was going by myself and only to catch something quickly, is definitely “out.”  And certain friends I found myself more compelled to wear the smock with and others I didn’t; with my former neighbors, for example, I don’t always feel it necessary to wear the smock, even if I’m technically “going out.” 

All this has made me think very carefully about fashion and its role in my life. I’ve gotten really interested in the politics and subtleties of how clothes represent us, and I’ve been inspired to put together a few proposals for new performance projects about fashion.  I’ll let you know how everything turns out – a new blog may be in the works!  

Posted on Sunday, June 8, 2008 at 09:27AM by Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf in | Comments4 Comments

Reader Comments (4)

I checked out Andrea Zittel's smock-shop; those dresses are really cute! Alas, I don't have a smock friendly figure.

June 9, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMandyPandy

Well, I was surprised at how flattering they are for anyone. But if you're really convinced, the smock is just an idea - you could make basically anything fit the bill.

June 9, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

your office eliminated your dress code?! i'm jealous. i got really frustrated yesterday when i tried to go shopping for the first time in a long while, and all the clothes i saw were fun skimpy summer clothes that aren't work appropriate. i guess i wish there was less of a division between my work and non-work clothes, because i miss being as free with my fashion-as-fun-self-expression as i was in college. it's also interesting how over the past year and a half as i've gotten used to buying less, i don't really enjoy shopping anymore, it's now a chore that i avoid. have you experienced that at all?

Julia, I was going to toss off a quick "I know just what you mean, I absolutely hate shopping" response but actually I had to think about it a little. I hated shopping before Fix, for a variety of reasons. NYC shops feel so crowded and annoying; I couldn't/can't afford the clothes/furniture/household goods I would like to have; I felt like I was always looking for something I couldn't find, etc. etc. But once I stopped shopping, a few things happened: I got a lot less broke, for one, meaning when I buy new things I can afford nicer things of higher quality. For another, I decided that I would make it a priority to buy things that I thought were made well and sold well so I actually kind of enjoy researching better choices and talking to merchants etc. I buy things so infrequently that it feels a little like something special. (That sounds a little Pollyanna, I realize!) When I have to buy crap at the drugstore I really hate it - just walking in there makes me dizzy.

As for the dress code, don't get too jealous - we get to use our own judgment rather than the company's about what looks "professional." But jeans are allowed, which made a bunch of employees a LOT happier about their jobs.


June 12, 2008 | Registered CommenterMegan Metcalf

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