looking. seeing.

I am a moderately successful NYC transplant. Been here in Maine for about a decade now. Not sure this is where I am going to end up, but for now it works. Basically. One thing I do not like about being in Maine, one of the things I miss most about NYC is the exposure to literally millions of different fashion and style ideas every day. Walking down the street you can see people dressed in ways you might not have imagined. Sometimes thats a good thing and some times its not. But it was always interesting. There is some people watching to be done here in Maine- when grocery shopping or going to the movies. But one never has access to the huge variety you get when you live in a city of millions. There are advantages to living in a small city, don't get me wrong. Today I stopped by a friend's business to say hello and check in, and then saw another friend out walking his dogs. The pace is slower, the scale is smaller, so you have a better chance of interacting regularly with people you know.  That can feel very good. Gives you a feeling of place, of belonging. I grew up in Brooklyn Heights, which when I was a kid was a great neighborhood. Moved to Park Slope in my twenties, which was another cool neighborhood. But then after returning from a ten year hiatus in the 90's, found that my city was becoming less of a string of neighborhoods, and more of a manufactured community. That's a bit of an exaggeration, but not too much of a stretch. I'm not going to go into the politics of NYC, but I felt the need to leave mid- 2000's and haven't looked back....

My uniform: front,  a Ginger skirt in corduroy, a Renfrew in Jersey and my Strokkur in Peace Fleece

My uniform: front,  a Ginger skirt in corduroy, a Renfrew in Jersey and my Strokkur in Peace Fleece

But where does the inspiration come from now?  I fed from the endless parade of fashion and style I observed on the streets, and most importantly, the subways of NYC. I would buy fashion magazines when I was younger, but honestly I got more fashion forward and experimental ideas from outfits walking the catwalks of New York streets. I would find myself staring at women in particularly well put-together outfits on the subway, trying hard not to look like a stalker, or a weirdo, analyzing why they looked good. I would crib ideas from teenage girls and business women alike. The cut of a skirt, the length of a pant leg, the peg, the drape, the color, the texture. A morning commute could be a smorgasbord of fashion, up close and personal for me to study. I worked in midtown on and off for various periods and so lunch time was a great opportunity for people watching. In good weather you could plant yourself with a sandwich on a bench at 50th and Sixth avenue and watch an endless parade. At that stage I wasn't really making my clothing. I was trying to evince some personal style from the combination of Gap, Banana Republic, and assorted downtown boutique and sample sale finds I collected. I have no photos of how I dressed then. I recall two shiny spandex animal print pencil skirts, one in hot pink and the other in tan/black. I had a slew of Gap T shirts. In those days I wore jeans. And cowboy boots. I worked in editorial so I could be pretty casual/creative in my dress. I also worked with some rather fashionable folks, so I would crib from them as well.

Back....

Back....

The point here is that I had a shit-ton of visual stimulation for my fashion hungry brain when I lived in NYC. Here in Maine I am sorely lacking in this department. I do apologize for anyone I may be offending, but LL Bean sells an awful lot of Mom jeans and basic fleece wear in the most dreadful 'happy' colors. It is hard to find style in middle America. Not impossible, but hard.  When I travel, which I do get to do with some regularity, I find myself indulging in my people watching pastime with great gusto. I was thinking about this yesterday because I am about to go on a sun-seeking vacation. Turning this idea over in my mind, I realized that I get into moods where I just need to see things and go on binges of looking at Flickr, Pinterest, blogs and Instagram, using new hashtags, new search threads looking for something previously un-seen. Recently I've started looking at Humans of New York and that can do it some times.  I think what I am doing is replacing my subway time with computer time. It kinda works. At least it tides me over until I can get into an urban environment. But there is a bit of artificiality, or perhaps more artifice, to it. The photos I see were taken by the people who want me to see what they made, and how they wear it. I can't sit across from them on the D train and look at their hems, their nail polish, their iPod cases. Photos on the internet are often edited, styled, posed. And that's fine, but I want some more of that street level inspiration too. It is what we're all doing though, isn't it? All of us who read sewing and knitting blogs, who cruise Ravelry and Kollabora, we're just looking for some ephemeral style that will flip a switch in our making brains and put us down a new path to creating. 

Gak!  Inspiration!  Where does yours come from?

Pix in this post are my outfit for the day, because that's what you all really want to see anyway, right? Its what I would want to see....