Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Changing Lives Through Clothing

Dear Jeepers,
For the past sixteen years I've worked in the circus doing this and that--the trapeze, dog training, swinging 50 feet off the ground by my hair, food service--but today I was fired! I've never had any other job and I'm an orphan. I have no idea what normal, non-circus people even wear these days. Any suggestions?

You've come to the right place. Chin up, darling!
First, you should know that all clothing passes through five phases:

1) utility
2) pose
3) ridiculous*
4) nostalgia
5) revolt

When deciding on a wardrobe, decide which of these phases you want to work within, because this will determine what you are saying with your clothes. Leg warmers, for example, have passed through the first four of the five phases. They began as a utility item, worn by dancers and woodsmen to warm the lower leg. Then, non-dancers and city people started wearing them as a pose, a pose that said to passersby "For all you know, I am a graceful dancer just on my way home from a long day of rehearsal."

When enough people who were clearly not dancers had been seen in leg warmers, the leg warmers moved into phase 3, ridiculous. Later, women who had worn leg warmers as teens thought of them again, this time with affectionate nostalgia for The Turning Point and their own childhoods, thus moving the warmers into stage 4. (Stage 5 will be achieved only when they are again unfashionable, but after they are ridiculous and before anyone is nostalgic about them again.)

As a circus performer, you have, in a way, lived your clothing life in phase one, utility. You had to wear sequins and fluttery skirts and stage make-up, because of your work. I suggest that you now take the natural step to phase two: pose. After a few years of this, you might feel strong enough to just wear whatever makes you laugh (a sophisticated mush of ridiculous utility) and whatever feels good against your skin. Good luck!

*ridiculous is not possible to achieve on purpose. If we're doing it on purpose, it's either a pose or revolt.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeepers: I think you should tell that circus person to wear a bra also.

10:43 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jeepers what do you wear your first day of teaching in a new school when all the other teachers are over 50 and they wear ABC Blackboard sweaters.

1:29 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love this drawing and the insight. thanks. I'm not in the circus but have been swinging for awhile.

9:07 PM  
Blogger Jeepers said...

ya, life's a three-ring circus.
Anonymous #2, I haven't forgotten you and your ABC blackboard sweaters. I'm still conducting important research...

9:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

To that teacher wondering about ABC sweaters: I say look to Jean-Paul Gauthier and Madonna for inspiration. Shake it up a little down at the little red school house!

"No Fear"

12:18 AM  

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