Meagan Fredette's blog, Latter Style unites fashion with feminism. She spoke with Our Town about Chicago fashion, House of Leaves, and art that takes itself too seriously.
Our Town Why do you identify as a feminist?
Meagan Fredette There is a lot of value in standing up and being counted. If I didn't identify as a feminist, I'd be doing an enormous disservice to my beliefs.
OT What are your thoughts on peoples’ unwillingness to label themselves feminist?
MF It's irritating. But I understand, because for the longest time I didn't call myself a feminist. Part of it has to do with simple ignorance of intersectionality-- [realizing your own privilege] and trying to remain vigilant about the unseen benefits you’re afforded, benefits that always come at the cost of other people-- it's easy to dismiss feminism when you think it's just about burning bras, and not about fighting the oppression of all women. There's so much misinformation about feminism; it can seem like a radical club that isn't accessible to everyone. Most women still have reserves of internalized misogyny - that is, harboring sexist ideas about women as a result of cultural biases, which causes things like slut shaming and vicious female competition. And I think, on a base level, it's just isn't considered "cool" to care about politics in general, let alone feminism, but I'm hoping people like Tavi Gevinson and Beyonce can help change that.
OT What makes your approach to fashion specifically feminist?
MF To me, it's just the simple notion of wearing what you want. Realizing that fashion "rules" can be oppressive at worst, and at best are by-products of a patriarchal beauty standard. I don't buy this notion that clothes must be flattering in order to be considered acceptable, because "flattering" is just code for "makes you look thinner." Fashion is a wonderful tool of self-expression but I feel like that expression is hampered by misogynistic views about bodies. People should free to wear the thing that make them happy and not worry about how it makes their bodies look. I'm not a contrarian necessarily, but I love wearing things that are not "supposed" to be worn on my body type, things like long empire waist dresses. I wear what I like, period.
OT Style-wise, what’s unique about Chicago?
MF I love the weird characters. There's so many fascinating people here that would sort of go unnoticed in a bigger place like NYC. Like Claire, who works at Lula Cafe and is always wearing the raddest outfits, like mismatched plaids or printed shoes. Or Heather Lynn, a performance artist and gallery owner whose casual costumes blur the lines between fashion and art.
OT Does House of Leaves inspire you in terms of style or just generally? Thoughts there?
MF I'm really into moods. Meaning, I am so inspired by macro-level aesthetics, and how things like setting and colors and sounds all come together. House of Leaves is the spookiest thing I've ever read. I first read it when I was 16 and it tore my world open. I am endlessly inspired by its subtle terror and slow builds of weirdness. A lot of people criticize the book at pretentious drivel, but I personally like art that takes itself too seriously.
OT What compels you about Alexander McQueen?
MF Gosh, what isn't compelling about McQueen? The man was a true artist. His pieces were always so grand and romantic and told a story - there is so much storytelling missing in fashion without him. Sometimes I look through his work and think wow, a human mind conceived this. McQueen is the place to go if you want to dream, but not of beautiful things, of shipwrecks and terror and death. His Fall 2006 show still gives me goosebumps.
OT What are your thoughts on how Rodarte has evolved?
MF Rodarte has clearly needed commercial success in order to maintain their business, which I totally respect. Still, I can't help but feel nostalgic for their earlier days of all-out experimental clothes that are loaded with symbolism - like their Fall 2009 collection, and how the gray swirls on leather referenced stones and Frankenstein. I like clothes that are challenging to wear, that push you out of your comfort zone. Older Rodarte will always impact me on that visceral level.
OT What’s your go-to outfit?
MF It depends on the weather! Lately since it's been so cold, I've stuck with high-waisted jeans, a band tee, a vintage velvet jacket, and kiltie boots. When it's nicer out I like wearing a long flowing dress (sometimes haphazardly tucked into a pair of jeans) with an embroidered belt and lots of metal necklaces. My outfits sometime seem elaborate, but I'm actually really into easy, repeatable silhouettes and colors.
OT Can you do the whole five pieces of clothing every woman should own thing for us?
MF -A good vintage jacket to throw on over a tee or a dress. Bonus points for weird embroidery or materials like velvet or brocade.
-An old destroyed band t-shirt, preferably oversized, best if it's been worn since high school. Old band tees are so sentimental. It's a conversation starter, and attracts people who have similar taste.
-Chuck Taylors. Classic, comfortable kicks that are timeless and fit in with every style.
-An olive green parka. They just look so "cool" but are also super nonchalant. I think of Lindsey Weir's parka in Freaks and Geeks as the most iconic example, but it's not just limited to"alternative" styles. It's effortless enough that anyone can wear one.
-The Weird Black Dress, or WBD. I feel like it's so cliche' to talk about the Little Black Dress, which is why I advocate for something a little more interesting. The WBD is that black dress in your closet that is risk-taking, a little offbeat, and unexpected. It's the dress you wear when you're feeling adventurous but still need to keep it somewhat classy. This could be something like a vintage 70s lurex dress or a contemporary avant garde dress (like Rick Owens or complexgeometries). It's really amazing how much wear you can get out of a piece that is unique!
OT Shoes confuse me. Advice?
MF I grew up on Sex and the City, so Carrie's penchant for statement footwear was impressed in my brain at an early age. I think we're living in a really good time for shoe design; there are all kinds of neat shoes in every heel height, and flat shoes, which will be a respite after years of vertiginous heels! I'm looking to invest in some cute oxfords because I just can't handle high heels anymore.
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