Through my years of blogging, I have tried to get various recurring post series going, with minimal success. And by that, I mean that I have had little success in staying organized enough to keep such series going. I’m not going to attempt to start another one, but if I did, I’d be tempted to try an “articles of note” round-up; I love reading them on other blogs. However, I am going to do a one-off (for now! Not committing but also not not-committing!) because I recently read a couple of fantastic articles and, despite making a mental note to share them (organically, as it were) in a style post at the earliest opportunity, I just haven’t managed to do it yet.
Fair warning to you all: neither is precisely about personal style, but both are great reads well worth the time investment in my opinion. I also think that both could be the springboard for some interesting discussion … and you guys know how much I love a good discussion.
First up, The Fashion Law (which is quickly becoming one of my daily reads) recently ran a series on “The 24 Anti-Laws of Marketing” (part 1 / part 2). It focused on the marketing strategies employed by luxury brands to maintain their cachet, most of which run entirely counter to typical fashion industry strategy. The book Bargain Fever touched briefly on some of these different techniques in one of its chapters, but the TFL articles are much more in-depth and specific.
I found them fascinating because I am endlessly fascinated by the luxury industry, and the reaction of different people (myself included) to their products. Growing up poor, I always saw myself as an outsider to the fashion industry, especially the luxury market, and that self-perception has persisted despite the changing circumstances of my life. I love beautiful things, so I am very vulnerable to the lure of luxury, whose products are often (though definitely not always) very beautiful even when not practical. Case in point – and I could point to many:
This dress is like a work of art, quite apart from its label. But I am also cognizant that the label is not without an impact on my appreciation of the dress, even though I like to think of myself as a fairly savvy consumer. Recognizing my own vulnerability, I find it intriguing to read about how luxury labels craft their image and manipulate the impact on consumers. Coincidentally, having recently read Propaganda by Edward Bernays, I am more interested than ever in examining the masses of messaging we consume daily, from all sources. If anyone has recommendations for other books on this general topic, I am all ears.
Second, I randomly came across a 2011 advice column from The Rumpus, wherein the blogger was replying to a reader who asked how he could decide if he should or should not have kids. The resulting post is a must-read for anyone contemplating the same question (and deeply resonates with me now, 6 years after I answered that question for myself), but I think it has broader relevance. You guys should definitely read the whole post, but here is the excerpt that encapsulates its message beautifully, and which goes straight to my heart:
“I’ll never know and neither will you of the life you don’t choose. We’ll only know that whatever that sister life was, it was important and beautiful and not ours. It was the ghost ship that didn’t carry us. There’s nothing to do but salute it from the shore.”
Chance are, if you’re like me, that just hit you like a metaphorical train. I have spent a good chunk of my life thinking about my ghost ship(s), without ever being able to put their existence and meaning into words quite as perfectly. I love my life, and would not change a single moment of my past (even the really, truly shitty ones) because each one was a link in the chain that guided me through the labyrinth of choices to this present moment … but I have still wrestled, too many times, with my “what ifs” – never quite knowing what to call the feeling they evoked, what it meant, and what to do about it.
Take the decision to have children, for example; I knew, without question (though, in fact, I never asked myself the question point blank, and sort of just stumbled towards the answer like a person left blindfolded in a dark room), that I would regret not having children. But I also often wondered, sometimes regretfully, about what my life without children would have been like. As I have sailed on through my life as a parent, those thoughts are growing ever more distant. The same is not necessarily true of other life choices; there, the wondering still visits me – like a ghost ship – every so often. Somehow, the thought that all I need to do is wave and watch it pass on, is deeply reassuring.
If you’re feeling in a confiding mood, here’s my question for you: how you deal with your ghosts ships or, more generally, with making difficult choices in the first place?