(feature image: Alannah Hill)
Lace, bows. Nice cuts of fabric that are well polished. Caring about what you wear and what image you project to the world, and not being ashamed of it. Reds and pinks adorning the body. Well placed sequins and ribbons intertwined with the most luscious of material. It’s not for everyone. But for some people- from a vast range of backgrounds and stories to tell, it’s their style. And that’s not a bad thing.
The ultra- feminine style pushes the boundaries, mixes clothing that is often associated with the notion of femininity and takes it to extremes. I wouldn’t consider my style to be ultra feminine. Some pieces I own (mostly from brands such as Alannah Hill and Review, both Australian) are definitely ultra feminine. The skirts are fully lined, a jumper I have literally has glitter on it, and dresses are adorned with the purpose to sparkle. But usually- I find myself wearing them with blacks and blues, with more blazers and sharply cut skirts. But this isn’t about my style. This is about how unfair it is to be derisive of ‘ultra feminine’ styles.
(pictured: Reese Witherspoon as Elle Woods)
Ultra- Feminine shouldn’t be confused with femininity. Femininity has a long history of being woven into fashion history- still is today with the ‘norm’: an off the shoulder top, jeans and ballet flats. That’s not being ultra feminine. When I think of Ultra Femininity, I think of Elle Woods from Legally Blonde. She cares about her image, she cares about fabric, quality and she’s proud of it. She’s fashion aware and wears that as if it were a badge of pride. As that movie was released in 2001- where the trends differed strongly (jeans became more popular, for instance). Ultra Feminine doesn’t necessarily have a history of being ‘trendy’ (although designers such as Valentino and Chanel morph ultra feminine ideas into their work.) It does, however have a history of being associated with the girly girl, and as some critics would have you believe: pre-school teachers (as if that’s a bad thing and not a profession to be proud of being part of). Therefore, the Ultra Feminine style, at least for this century- has existed not in the center of the vast fashion world. It can be found in haute couture, for instance- Christian Dior comes immediately to mind (especially the collections of 2005 and 2010).
As established, the ultra feminine person:
- cares about their appearance, and shows it
- not really ‘basic’- the bows, lace and ruffles exaggerate normally plain details
- somewhat vintage and fairytale like
- clothes are well polished
Are any of those bad things? Caring about your appearance would bring a sense of pride, which would make you happy in the short and long term. Well polished clothes that may or may not be tailored would also bring this. The aesthetic desire for ‘fairytale’ clothes seems harmless. Exaggerating details? Well, if you are comfortable- is that a bad thing? I don’t think so. A bow can elevate a plain outfit into something spectacular. A lot of fashion is knowing what works and what doesn’t, but it is also something to have fun with (and has a rich, complex intricate history). That’s also not a bad thing.
What is a bad thing is making unfair assumptions or attacking someone for dressing a particular way. Have we gone into a hive mind where being polished is somehow, ironic as it is… dirty? The ultra feminine person dresses for themselves, first and for all. They dress that way because they like it. There isn’t some mighty conspiracy that they are trying to prove something to the world. Somehow, the thought that people dress for themselves has become so ludicrous.
I mean, I bought those ‘ultra feminine’ off white coats and pink cardigans because I liked them. Because they were pretty, and engaged with a world that was rather whimsical and off beat. I love fairy tales and the fantastic- and fashion is a portal to engaging with that. Not a bad thing, at all. I think pearls- faux or not are simply powerful. And the combination of pink and gold? Simply spellbinding and magical.
This also opens a can of worms on sexism, as Ultra Feminine styles are associated with females. Societies obsession with dictating what women should wear- and their very in depth (sarcasm) theories about why someone dresses that way (no, it’s not to ‘look cool’ or ‘because of the brand name’) is proof of this. Having fun with what you wear is actually pretty awesome.
So… if you consider yourself ‘Ultra Feminine’… know that’s not a bad thing. I admire deeply your ability to take pride in your appearance, your knowledge and rather sophisticated outfits. It’s a step in a dangerously exciting direction.