Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Radiant Orchid, Acid Trips, and Women's Lib

Dress and purse: thrift; Boots: Ecco; Tights: Reitmans; Cape: London Fog; Cane: Life; Brooches and earrings: vintage
First things first: yes, this is radiant orchid, Pantone's colour of the year. Yes, I wore it, or something close to it in my last post too. I seem to have a closet full of it. Heck, even my bath towels and hair brush are radiant orchid!

I wasn't really thinking about the colour of the year when I put this outfit together. Instead, I had two looks in mind.

Leigh Taylor-Young in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
The first look was that of the late 60s, early 70s hippie chick. You know the one. She's ditzy, and "kooky." She's a "free spirit"...

Leigh Taylor-Young and Peter Sellers in I Love You, Alice B. Toklas
... who features prominently in the sexual awakening of the stuffed-shirt male protagonist of many movies. She's kind of an annoying trope to me, but fun to caricature in a post.

Yes, I do have a tattoo in exactly that spot. No, I won't tell you what it is.

Salli Sachse and Peter Fonda in The Trip
She often shows up in freaky basement parties, rife with pot smoke and LSD. Such parties totally blow the mind of the man who's trying to, you know, like, find himself?

So this is me, free spirited gal, all groovy peace and love, in a basement suite, complete with lots of pillows, and Indian batik on the walls. Hippies were notorious for cultural appropriation of Eastern art, fashion, and religion, including batik. (Beau lived in Sri Lanka for ten years so comes by his pieces pretty naturally.)

I imagined this photo as the blurry, scratchy one the stuffed shirt has kept secret from his family ever since that brief mind-expanding affair way back in '69, man.

These women are often depicted as pretty out of it, not very bright, if you know what I mean. So I did a lot of dopey faces for this shoot. 

They're also very trippy, man, dropping acid, turning on, and tuning in, man. Having been raised by hippies, I witnessed this scene a lot as a child and actually have little tolerance for it...

... so I enjoyed mocking it in my facial expressions and body language.

See that ghost there? I don't know what it is! I swear. Maybe it's Beau's breath on the cold air as he took the photo? Anyway, it goes perfectly with the acid trip theme.

So does this totally trippy kitty with the glowing eyes who was, unbeknownst to me, watching all the proceedings outside his window.

But I had another look in mind too, a much more serious and powerful one. Can you guess what it was?


Here's a hint.

Yes, indeed, I was going for a late 60s, early 70s Women's Libber look! Women's Lib stood for Women's Liberation and was the term used most commonly used for what we now simply call feminism.

So now I'm in the same time period, but I've switched from being the catalyst or cipher for a man's self-discovery, to being a woman on her own, with her own brains, dreams, and ambitions...

... some of whose goals are eerily relevant today, all over again.

It's easy to mock some of the idealism and rhetoric of the early second wave of feminism, but it would be a mistake to do so. Every woman today owes a debt to these women and shouldn't forget it. 

Nor should we grow complacent and think that rights they won can't be revoked. I stand appalled at what I'm seeing going on in some states in the United States right now, and, if we think globally, feminism has not even come close to reaching its goals. Indeed, some of them are being lost.

Early women's libbers were, for the first time, recognizing their own power, not as wives or mothers, but as autonomous individuals. I can't imagine how that must have felt but the first word that comes to mind is "liberating." The second is "exhilarating."

Left ring: Birks; Right top ring and silver stackable: boutique; Gold stackable: Etsy
Feminism had a big impact on fashion too. Perhaps borrowing from the hippie movement, women began to wear more laid back fashion, less quaffed, more earthy.

Barrette: Stylize
They no longer went to the hair salon every week to have their hair molded into unnaturally sleek helmets. 

Instead, they began to see their hair in its natural state as beautiful. Note the woman in the fourth row on the left with the afro, and the woman in the first row on the far right with the jewfro. If you are that woman, write to me. We have to bond, girlfriend!

The above photo was almost certainly taken in the 70s, as opposed to the earlier one I posted of the women carrying the "Women Unite" sign which I'm guessing is from the late 60s. Note that now the young women are eschewing skirts, makeup, heels, dresses, and, in some case, bras. Fashion is indeed a feminist issue and women's libbers did indeed see fit to reject a lot of traditional aspects of feminine fashion in favour of what they saw as a celebration of a more natural, authentic look. 

To this day, debates rage on the topic of feminism and fashion. As a particularly feminine feminist, I have watched these debates with great interest and, at times, dismay, often feeling a need to apologize for or defend my femininity

Rosebud earring: boutique
Ultimately, I've come to believe that being feminine in appearance is natural to me. However, my style deeply reflects some of the tenants of the women's libbers: I prefer a natural look; I question traditional definitions of female beauty; I wear very little makeup, if any; I do not trying to erase my ethnicity by straightening or colouring my hair; and I don't try to tame my body into something more plastic than human.

See that frizzy hair? I deliberately left it like this for the night's look, to go with the ethos I was emulating. Beau really liked it this way, which surprised me.

Oh, that bruise on my hand? That's from the IV needle I'd needed when I went to ER the week before. You can read about that ordeal here

And so, ultimately, my look did not just reference acid trips, ditzy flower children, and men's sexual awakening. It also referenced women's awakening as powerful humans who deserve equality. 

Yes, fashion can be about all that -- and more.

(Spy Girl challenged us to wear radiant orchid this week so I'm linking up to her page. As usual, I'm linking up for Visible Mondays at Not Dead Yet, and I'm also linking up with Searching the Inner Me.)


  1. Right on, Sister!
    With you 100%!
    Indeed, you have been looking radiant these days. That color suits you!
    Thanks for linking up, I love having you at my parties.

    1. Groovy, sistah! We'll have a great party, man. Power!

  2. This is a comment my friend and former high school teacher posted on facebook in reply to this post:

    "In fact, the terms "women's lib" and "libber" were pejoratives meant to trivialize the emerging movement, which sought to go beyond the formal political changes demanded, for example, by suffrage activists and to hold up to detailed scrutiny the entire structure and apparatus of society. We called ourselves "women's liberationists" rather than feminists because, at the time (the late 1960s), the latter term seemed too middle class for women who had, for the most part, already been active in anti-war, social democratic and civil rights movements."

  3. You're right "fashion can be about all that -- and more".....
    Thank you so much for linking on Très Chic Style Bits