We recently interviewed d.so user and accessories maker Contrapaul. He…
Welcome to the first “15 minute with…”, our dressed.so user profile series. In these profiles, we ask a few questions to a user whose fits might not yet have reached iconic status but whom we think is worth your attention. In our inaugural profile, I get to know sister-wendigo and find out more about art school, authenticity, and her casual-cool style. I envisioned this series as a few short, punchy questions to introduce you to a user, but I enjoyed s-w’s answers so much I could hardly bear to cut them down.
d.so: Who are you?
sister-wendigo: My name is Maureen. I’ve lived all over the Southeastern region of the United States, though mostly concentrated in Appalachia between East Tennessee and Western North Carolina. I live in New Orleans now, where I’m currently earning two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Art History and Studio Art Photography, as well as a minor in U.S. Public Policy.
I feel like when you tell someone you’re a photographer, they expect a portfolio of flawless portrait photography, but that’s really quite the opposite of my skill set. I make abstract work, largely about paranoia and “ghosts” as manifestations of memory and legend. My resume says I can use Adobe Photoshop but I only know a few tricks, really. I’m no stranger to a disposable camera, though, and I love a good darkroom. Restaurant work supplies my paychecks; as of recently I only work back of house at one local bagel establishment, though I have a strange affinity for cooking, and I’ve worked as a kitchen manager in the past.
d.so: How did studying art affect the way you dress and view fashion?
sister-wendigo: I find that it’s affected how I view someone else’s fit or how I view and remember inspo. My study of fine art influenced my personal aesthetic less than I may have implied in art-lesson WSheWT posts, but thinking about what the risks were in different movements is exciting, and I think that keeping certain artists or pieces can assist in curating the “feel” one might be working on. My South/Southwestern Americana Inspo album was pretty well received in r/femalefashionadvice, and I definitely relied on ambient images to create a tone for the whole thing.
There is a comparison I actually think of often between Mark Rothko and Jackson Pollock, especially in terms of makeup. I love for eyeshadow to look smudgy or smoky, as well as muted versions of all colors on the spectrum. When eyeshadow looks bruisey or almost as though it could naturally be there, I find that so pleasing. I don’t like crisp, bright, or contrasted; I think it can look so garish. That’s what reminds me of Rothko. He applied and removed paint to stain his canvases, and his color fields are hazy. A Rothko is said to look as though it just appeared on the canvas on its own. By contrast, a Pollock painting is illustrative of his process. He’s all about the process! I didn’t choose a Rothko philosophy over a Pollock one on purpose or anything, but trying to put my cosmetic preferences to words made more sense after that day in lecture, so there you go.
1. Fit Page // (Uniqlo Tee, Helmut Lang Kinetic Jersey Side Gather Skirt, D’Orsay Flats)
2. Fit Page // (Uniqlo SPRZ NY, D’Orsay Flats)
3. Fit Page // (Helmut Lang Asymmetrical Bra, Otaat Drum Clutch, D’Orsay Flats)
d.so: Do you feel pressure to dress quirky because of people’s expectations of artists?
sister-wendigo: No. Well, maybe a little, but the word “quirky” in terms of fashion or style is very illustrative to me for looks that are exactly opposite my taste. I do feel pressure to dress “differently” in that I feel like looking thoroughly “basic” is not really an option.
d.so: Some people associate authenticity with a lack of mainstream accessibility in both art and fashion. How do you feel about this?
sister-wendigo: I’m more concerned with authenticity in terms of personal style and as an external expression of who someone is. I’m not really into the idea that everything one owns is supposed to be designer or “the best,” because I think I’ve always considered authenticity as something that transcends social class. This comes up in how I study art. I may wear a few identifiable items, but for the most part I like when each of my pieces are of an ambiguous price point, and I like mixing high and low. More accurately, high and Uniqlo. I own a lot of Uniqlo.
At any rate, a romanticized image of where artistic talent “comes from” definitely exists; we think of the artist as one who works solely from his or her passion. Realistically, cash begets cash, and your personal brand is the most valuable thing you have in this era. I support the broadening of accessibility in art, and I want to see a greater range of places become represented in who’s able to break into fine art discourse. I am critical of how we view art on the Internet right now; I think a lot of people are very ready to say that the Internet has brought us closer together and has allowed more artists to be seen. The Internet brings us that potential, certainly, but I am very critical of the implication that cultural exchange has somehow already happened in equitable ways. We still have the great Western art capital of New York City, but I don’t support the notion that those are the tastemakers an artist is supposed to appeal to. I think people can be very comfortable to rely on old ways of exchanging art while pretending we’ve already had a digital revolution, academically. In general there are a lot of normalized standards in our culture that I don’t really feel like playing into. Thus, I’ve decided that I personally will not choose to pursue an artistic career in NYC, because I think that is something I must do for myself in order to create art that applies to my own beliefs. I do not think that individual pieces or series of mine need to translate all the philosophies I have come to, but that I do have to be true to myself in how I create them.
The academic element is arguably necessary in fine art, and I’m interested in dismantling aspects of its exclusivity. I don’t think that concept is foreign in fashion. It’s great to get to afford the designer, but there is something special in mixing in pieces from outside that world to create a stronger and more dynamic personal style.
d.so: What are some of your favorite pieces right now?
I’ve spent my last few summers working in the woods, so this is my first year wearing things that aren’t a men’s Fruit of the Loom white v-neck for summertime. I essentially bought myself an entire new summer wardrobe from Uniqlo because I really didn’t have any options. Even though they aren’t necessarily exciting pieces, all these clothes are still shiny and new to me, and that’s always fun. I think my favorite garment I picked up was the Ines de la Fressange black pants; they’re slouchy and have this red drawstring. I love that red drawstring. It doesn’t really “go” with most colors so I intentionally wear the pants with those colors. I have this knit muscle tee in a very faint mauve-gray color that I especially enjoy with the pants.
I’m kind of over slide sandals already but since I bought some I am still wearing the everloving crap out of them. I have ridden the slide sandal hype train something fierce. Honestly, though, I never see other people in my city wearing them so it’s a great lazy thing for me to do, but I’m tricking people into thinking I know something they don’t. I’ve also been wont to enjoy them with socks.
I got some white Adidas Superstar 2 sneakers, and during a week where it was raining every day I felt personally offended by the forces of nature that I couldn’t wear my beautiful new shoes.
d.so: What do you think your wardrobe is missing?
sister-wendigo: That is hard for me to say right now. Short answer: nothing. I keep a very detailed and up-to-date Polyvore account where I constantly curate and organize wishlists, and I’ve gotten into this habit where I only buy clothes that I think about and “miss” while I’m getting dressed. If I’m always thinking about a garment like, “Man, these shorts would have looked so cool with that top I saw online” then there’s a really solid chance I’m going to cop it. I’ve bought everything I feel like my wardrobe “needs” right now, but I think I’m in a good place to start taking more (calculated) risks. However, I currently do kitchen work so it’s not even like I’m interested in dressing up on a morning where I have to go into work at 4 or 5 in the afternoon, and I’m not sure how long it will be before I need to spend money on a professional wardrobe. I could definitely use some jewelry, though, because I don’t tend to accessorize much. In general I think I’d like some more traditionally feminine looking pieces, too, because I gravitate all too easily to boxy, tomboyish outfits despite being a very girly person. I’m probably going to buy NARS Rikugien soon but I’m not sure if that applies to this question.
d.so: Who are some d.so users you’re excited about?
sister-wendigo: I definitely love insatiablerealist‘s summer wardrobe. I feel like–and maybe I’m remembering wrong but I don’t think I am–she wasn’t sure how what she learned and what she worked for in F/W would work in the summer, but her summer stuff is so weirdly specifically my taste. Personally, my summer stuff this year has been pretty informed by whatever normcore looks come up on my Tumblr dash (I know that is not the coolest thing in the world to admit) but she’s got this neutral style, neutral palette thing going on that is just so pretty. Also she makes me want to be a brunette.
d.so: What’s your favorite fit you’ve posted on d.so?
sister-wendigo: I think I have a few favorites, but mostly favorite aspects of different looks. I uploaded a fit where I’ve got a gray pullover, black leggings-pants, wool socks, and slide sandals, but as a detail photo I added my fishtail parka over the whole thing. I think that detail image is one of my favorite contributions to the site. I wish I could switch them! [Editor’s note: UI improvements for d.so are in development!]
It wasn’t entirely on purpose, but I do have a capsule wardrobe (more specifically: I have a S/S capsule and a F/W capsule that are connected in a Venn-Diagram shape by a couple pairs of sneakers), so what I upload to dressed.so is very representative of what I might be wearing on any given day.
Which d.so user profile would you like to read next?