Vintage Clothing, Literary Devices, & Duckie

by Ellen Flanz, Bozeman Mont on August 6, 2011

Vintage Clothing, Literary Devices, & Duckie

vintage clothing Duckie Pretty In Pink

Duckie did it better than Andie

Characters who wear vintage clothing are usually a cliche: it’s boilerplate shorthand for someone who’s edgy, “alternative”, maybe a bit arty. It’s no longer an accurate shortcut to defining a character. It’s limiting and lazy.

I don’t consider myself edgy or alternative, but I’d accept arty, since that is my background. I’m not a fashion fiend. I honestly don’t buy fashion magazines, and I find the artificial imposition of “seasons” and “new new new” and ridiculous over-the-top stylist-contrived “looks” to be brain-food Twinkies. My friends know that I spend my days in overalls or fleece (Montana season dependent), but that I’m also happy to transform with something kakkoii. My life isn’t informed by Vogue or Elle but I’d die without my weekly New Yorker. And books. I’d wither without books.

You’re either a reader or you’re not. I am, gratefully. Some of my strongest memories from 1st and 2nd grade involve library books. I renewed Where The Wild Things Are so many times, Somerville Elementary’s librarians probably thought I had some sort of super-slow learning disability. A biography on Amelia Earhart, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade. Books on Martin Luther King, Jr when I did a report in 3rd grade. Then came our move abroad at age 9. Our summer home-leaves included a very special component for me: a trip to a bookstore or two, during which we would stock up on what was to be the next year’s reading supply. My mother, poor mother, made it her mission to mete out a few books that I could read over the summer, saving the rest for the year. Harriet The Spy, The Long Secret, and Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, soon led to Graham Greene (Graham Greene ?!!!!?) by age 12. A bit precocious, I know, but at age 12 we moved to Athens and eventually into a house with a library – a library, my ‘own personal library.’ I felt like Belle in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. That scene still makes me verklempt.

My friends have heard me say too many times that there is nobody else whose life I wish I had. But I do have a touch of envy. For writers – good writers. I envy the ease with which they own and share their voices, as unique as fingerprints.

I met Lauren Lipton, novelist, virtually, when I discovered that Lauren is a fan of Kakkoii Mono and of vintage. Lauren’s It’s About Your Husband unfolds in a New York City that is rich in everyday detail, real details. Iris is having a tough time making a go of it in NYC, and her struggle resonated all too keenly with me, bringing back the good and the bad of my first few years in New York. Lauren’s love of vintage weaves its way through the tale in a subtle way. What I most respect about Lauren’s use, for lack of a better word, of vintage is that it reveals her respect, rather than a reliance on a character trait (so-and-so’s character wears vintage therefore = hackneyed cliche.) Lauren treats it with the respect that I share.

And the novel was a treat. Having moved right on to Lauren’s Mating Rituals of the North American WASP, I look forward to the publication of her third novel.

And we have something to look forward to here. Lauren has agreed to write a guest blog in the not-too-distant future. No specific topic has been defined, and I don’t care to – I leave that up to her. I do have some questions for her and perhaps a short Q & A would result in some “A”s of interest to everyone. Until then, you can visit and enjoy the blog of the talented Lauren Lipton. I always do.

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