Inspired by my sister’s photo-assisted organization of her shoes, I decided to tackle my wardrobe. Taking an inventory would make it easier to simplify, replace, or supplement my clothes. Analyzing colour would help me substitute mathematics for a sense of style. Combining the images with the clothes log I’ve been keeping would make it easier to see patterns and maybe do some interesting visualizations. Geek time!
I took pictures of all my clothes against a convenient white wall. I corrected the images using Bibble 5 Pro and renamed the files to match my clothes-tracking database, creating new records as needed. AutoHotkey and Colorette made the task of choosing representative colours much less tedious than it would’ve been otherwise. After I created a spreadsheet of IDs, representative colours, and tags, I imported the data into my Rails-based personal dashboard, programming in new functionality along the way. (Emacs keyboard macros + Rails console = quick and easy data munging.) I used Acts as Taggable On for additional structure.
It turns out that the math for complementary and triadic colour schemes is easy when you convert RGB to HSL (hue, saturation, lightness). I used the Color gem for my RGB-HSL conversions, then calculated the complementary and triadic colours by adding or subtracting degrees as needed (180 for complementary, +/- 120 for triadic).
Here’s what the detailed view looks like now:
And the clothing log:
Clothing summary, sorted by frequency (30 days of data as of writing)
The dress arrived last week. It’s a simple ivory sheath of piña (pineapple fiber), with a lightly-beaded and embroidered panuelo (wrap). Although I’d never met the seamstress who made it, the dress fit like a charm, thanks to the measurements I’d sent.
I had been planning to wear a dress a family friend had given me before, but my mom wouldn’t hear of it. She wanted to be involved in planning the wedding, so she volunteered to take care of the dress. It would be her gift, she said. I accepted, asking her to make sure it was simple, classic, and something I could wear again. This dress fits the bill perfectly. It would do just fine at a wedding and at a formal get-together or cultural celebration.
In addition to this knee-length dress, she has also commissioned a Maria Clara, in case a long dress proves a better fit. My concession to the pageantry of weddings is to reach back in time and connect with my roots. I asked her to make sure the designer didn’t get carried away with modernizing the outfit. Traditional. Classic. A dress I can be buried in, I said.
I was half-tempted to suggest an Ifugao outfit – our family has many memories of Banaue – but it seemed easier to find a seamstress to work on a beautiful Tagalog outfit than to (a) pick the right tribe, and (b) find an outfit that doesn’t scream “tourist souvenir”. Maria Claras and nice panuelos are non-mainstream enough to require a seamstress, but there’s plenty of wedding inspiration. The rich weaves and beading of the mountain tribes are more niche. And there’d be no question of W- matching my outfit – a g-string? in Canada? in October? At least W- has a barong, which he may or may not choose to wear.
Actually, the wraparound skirts and colourful belts of some of the tribes can work really well here, too. I’ll need to find a way to pick up some of those when I next visit, as SM Kultura doesn’t stock a lot of those. =) We don’t have nearly enough variety in those department stores. I was looking all over for a payneta, and I think I only found it in Baguio…
I love wearing Filipiniana, from the malongs I wear in summers to the colourful Ifugao belt I once repurposed as earwarmers in winter. I’d like to wear more of it, like the way I see men and women in ethnic outfits even at work. That might mean learning how to sew my own everyday versions, because the only baro’t saya I’ve seen in Philippine department stores are embellished with metallic threads or beads. The baro’t saya is close enough to regular wear for me to avoid having tons of conversations with strangers about whether I’m heading off to perform somewhere.
Yay culture. =)
One of the things that surprises people is that as high-tech and plugged in as I am, I still have an appreciation for old ways. I send hand-written notes, write with a fountain pen in a little black notebook, hardly ever swear, and occasionally pick up quirky styles. Such as this hat, for example.
I've been told by quite a few people that I wear hats well. I picked up this vintage hat during the Cabbagetown festival. It was CAD 18 or so. I didn't know when I'd have an occasion to wear it, but I decided to get it anyway and find excuses to wear it whenever I could. It so happened that I was wearing flowing black plants and a black velvet top at the time that I bought the hat, so it fit perfectly, and a number of people stopped to compliment me on the ensemble. It made a few people wonder if I was in mourning, though.
Why should elegant hats be restricted to such occasions? Women of breeding used to never go out without something on their heads, and some cultures maintain this tradition to this day. I'll continue playing around with this idea, and perhaps I might fold it into my style.
I'm not used to thinking of myself as stylish, but I do like being distinctive. This isn't the harsh uniqueness of piercings or dye, but rather a hint of something old, something different.
(Look, dad! I'm also getting better at taking self-portraits. The cheap tripod I bought has been working out. Now all I need is a full-length mirror that I can use for clothing and that I can set up behind the camera...)
Toronto has all these wonderful little neighborhoods. I've been meaning to go to Little India to buy a sari for the longest time, so I finally decided to go and buy one today. It was so hard to choose - they were all so beautiful! I finally decided on a black sari with gold thread trim. If I like wearing it, I just might go back and get more.
Hmm. BarCampEarthToronto is this Saturday, so I'll probably go in a malong. Tomorrow I've got a fair bit of running around to do, and I'll be up at IBM for the rest of this week... Maybe next week, then! The 28th would be a good time to try it out.
Lots of people commented on my entry about wanting to get into the clothing business. I've updated the entry with their comments. Maybe I'm onto something here. Is it something small that I can build and let loose?
In other news, yet another random stranger walked up to me yesterday and complimented me on the malong that I wore. And to think that I was just wearing it as a skirt...
Also, I'm planning to go to Little India and get myself one of their traditional outfits to see what that feels like.
I'm interested in traditional outfits from all cultures, not just the Philippines, although I must admit that I take a certain joy in telling people that my terno's from home... =)