January 8, 2016

"Transfer of emotion" — the "practiced salesman’s term for the magical moment when a consumer becomes one with a garment he has just met."

Experienced by Guy Trebay in "One Man, Five Designers/Theory meets practice as our men’s wear critic tries out the clothes that he has only viewed from the front row."
It would understate things to say that an emotional transfer kicked in when I put on the sleek two-button suit, whose details — pick-stitched lapels; deep double vents; waist adjusters (to eliminate a belt’s bisecting ugliness); a superfluous yet appealingly anachronistic ticket pocket — contributed to the spell.... Seldom have I felt more like money than I did while riding the R train to work on the morning I took the suit for its test ride, or when sluicing through the Times Square mobs and Elmos wearing Mr. Lauren’s $5,995 suit....
A very interesting experiment, well described. And I really loved this quote from Oscar Wilde: "Fashion is a form of ugliness so absolutely unbearable that we have to alter it every six months!"

That had me searching my Kindle version of "Complete Works of Oscar Wilde" for the word "ugliness." I happened upon this interchange in "The Picture of Dorian Gray":
“How can you say that? I admit that I think that it is better to be beautiful than to be good. But on the other hand no one is more ready than I am to acknowledge that it is better to be good than to be ugly.”
“Ugliness is one of the seven deadly sins, then?” cried the Duchess....

“Ugliness is one of the seven deadly virtues, Gladys....” 

21 comments:

Original Mike said...

""Transfer of emotion" — the "practiced salesman’s term for the magical moment when a consumer becomes one with a garment he has just met."

I must be immune.

Salamandyr said...

I just do not understand the modern trend for short cuffs and exposed ankles. I don't care how daring your socks are, I don't want to see them!

buwaya puti said...

Fashions of any sort are the work of the devil, propagated by witches and the demonically possessed.

Sebastian said...

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so absolutely unbearable that we have to alter it every six months!" But bon mots by Wilde are always in fashion with writers in need of wit.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

If you spend $6k on a suit you'd damned well better feel SOMETHING.

Gabriel said...

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so absolutely unbearable that we have to alter it every six months!"

Is this a real Wilde quote? Which work does it appear in? I'm only finding web pages, never a good sign.

Wilde didn't write that much. His collected works is a volume of like 600 pages. He also recycled a lot of jokes, so when you read it you keep seeing the same ones--if he said this once he would have put it in like 50 things. I haven't read all his correspondence, he might have written it there. But it doesn't sound like Wilde.

traditionalguy said...

The really rich also use this angle for interior decorating their political statement mansion homes. The right pieces of furniture must have a special size or shape or color of ugliness that you would never see in a mere stylish middle class home. It has to be an extra expensive kind of ugliness would never sell to a mass market even at that market's higher end price. Ergo: it shows off wealth by using a unique ugly style.

Seeing Red said...

Self-indulgent twaddle. He's playing catch-up. The first question is "Does this make me look fat"? Then we go from there.

Gabriel said...

Aha. It IS (almost) a real quote, but from an essay he wrote for a newspaper that was not rediscovered until 2012. Which is why I wouldn't find it in his collected works.

The actual quote is

"And, after all, what is a fashion? From the artistic point of view, it is usually a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

Andrew said...

Those that chase fashion are like greyhounds chasing a fake rabbit around a track, they never catch it. The trick is to find your style, a timeless one, and stick with it. That's from a man's perspective, women will chase, it's what they do.

$6K is absurd, $6K can get you four or five made to measure suits that fit. You'll think you're wearing pajamas to work.

Ann Althouse said...

I bought an expensive suit once... and I never wanted to wear it. Couldn't force myself to wear it. It hangs in my closet and sometimes I put it on and I just don't feel like it. Literally: I don't feel like it. It doesn't become one with my emotions. It resists. So weird!

There was another item in the store that got me started, but it was a seemingly less versatile thing, and I ended up buying what I thought was the perfect pantsuit, something I'd use all the time. This turned out to be a stunningly incorrect assessment.

Larry J said...

Fashion is a sucker's game. It's perhaps the worst example of planned obsolescence out there. They try to get people to buy new clothes by making them think that the perfectly good clothes they own are suddenly unwearable because they said so.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Ann Althouse said... It doesn't become one with my emotions. It resists. So weird!

You must break its will, bend the garment to your desires, mold it to your wishes and make yourself its master. Show those threads who's boss!

The interest in some of the "high fashion" runway looks I've seen, I think, has to be primarily in the fact that the model is able to wear it and move around/survive at all. I assume it's an evolutionary thing, sort of like the story about the bird of paradise's long tail (since it's a hindrance to have an extra-long tail it becomes a mark of robustness and thus sexual fitness to have one and still survive--something useless and dangerous therefore acts as a positive trait for mating). More often, though, I think something like "if that article of clothing looks ugly on that runway model, and they're in the top 1% of attractive people in the world, imagine how hideous it'd look on a real person!" You have to work hard to make Alessandra Ambrosio or Gisele Bunchen look bad, but sometimes they manage to.

I ended up buying what I thought was the perfect pantsuit

...urge to make HillDozer wisecrack rising, rising...

Biff said...

Seldom have I felt more like money than I did while riding the R train to work on the morning I took the suit for its test ride, or when sluicing through the Times Square mobs and Elmos wearing Mr. Lauren’s $5,995 suit.

...and yet there wasn't enough money left over to get a pair of socks.

HoodlumDoodlum said...

Seldom have I felt more like money than I did while riding the R train to work on the morning I took the suit for its test ride, or when sluicing through the Times Square mobs and Elmos wearing Mr. Lauren’s $5,995 suit.

Jeepers, imagine how someone like Donald Trump must feel all the time!

Peter said...

"Seldom have I felt more like money than I did while riding the R train ..."

And here I was thinking, perhaps actually having money means not having to ride the subway?

Andrew said...

Ann Althouse said...

"There was another item in the store that got me started, but it was a seemingly less versatile thing, and I ended up buying what I thought was the perfect pantsuit, something I'd use all the time. This turned out to be a stunningly incorrect assessment."

So the Professor's aesthetic is in-congruent with the Grifter's.

EDH said...

"Transfer of Emotion... becomes one with a garment he just met"?

Is that what Bill Clinton had with the blue dress?

Paddy O said...

This also happens in politics

Jeff Teal said...

What a load of narcissistic horsepuckey.First wearing a RL suit on a subway is such an "in your face " example of conspicuous consumption that it is a wonder that the suit wasn't doused with his blood.Second that transcendent feeling is exactly what the advertising manipulators want to happen.Way to be-weak minded.But thanks for supporting the worst part of capitalism-those social and psychological fakirs we call ad-men.And all their hangers-on photographers,graphic artists,supermodels and all the rest.And let's not forget that the fashion changes are designed to get people to spend money for the "new" not the best.But it is class signalling and values signalling of the elite sort.Hell I went into shock when I was informed in ECON 101 that clothes were not a durable good.

Original Mike said...

"Hell I went into shock when I was informed in ECON 101 that clothes were not a durable good."

Clothes serve two purposes for me. They keep me warm and out of jail.