Thursday, April 17, 2008

Heteros...Slowly Step Away From The Clothing Racks...

And no one will get hurt....

I was guiding my best friend through the process of the selection of a wedding gown.

My best friend in a regular straight chick with a straight chick mind and soul.

I am not. I am a straight chick by default because I am a woman and I am sexually attracted to males but have the mind and soul of a gay man and like any other gay man, I like other men, but since I have a woman's body, I am a straight woman but not really and not quite. I am cisgendered but transminded.

Straight minded people and gay-male minded people have a very different sensibility and understanding about clothing . And interior decoration . And music . And many other things.

And you cannot learn it. You are just born that way. You know that sweater does NOT go with those shoes by the time that you are 5, and you know that Cher is fabulous and your heart starts dancing when you hear Madonna's "Holiday" as if on cue, and you love glittery stuff and glamour.You are just wired that way and you are that way as a morula because you start cleaving and dividing to the beat of Abba's "Dancing Queen".

I kind of knew I was gay-male minded when I was about 3 or 4, and I was asked what I wanted to be when I grew up and my answers were a mermaid or a mambo dancer because of the sequins and the feathers on the costumes. Another clue was when I was lipsinching to Culture Club in my parents living room and staging drag shows at age 14 instead of talking about boys and giggling like the regular girls were.

Regular straight chicks and gay-male minded people think about clothing in an entirely different way. It makes the difference between putting toghether an outfit that is "cute" or completely misguided and one that is "fabulous" and the difference is night and day.

A straight chick would consider having this sweatshirt in her closet

A gay male-minded woman or man would much rather be burnt alive or be quartered by horses....

Straight minded women select clothes based purely on emotion and "rules" set by others. For us it's different. Getting an outfit toghether is all about STRATEGY and details. Strategy and logistics on the level of the Battle of Austerlitz. You take everything into account and the balance has to be perfect to achieve the desired effect.

Like for the wedding gown for example. She wanted, ideally, this dress:

Which is perfect and wonderful. But hard to make as all hell because it is a bias cut gown. Why is it so hard to make? Because it is intrinsically difficult to cut and sew fabric on the bias since, because of gravity, it takes a life of its own. Expert dressmakers charge twice as much for a bias cut garment as for one cut on the grain of the fabric. And a bias cut dress HAS to be made in an expensive, natural fiber such as silk satin duchesse because otherwise it would NOT drape and "fall" right. Also, a bias cut dress skims the body just so..It has no room for error and if the fit is not right. it is completely unforgiving. This problem is exponentially aggravated when the person who is going to wear the bias cut dress is not, let's say, Jean Harlow or Marilyn Monroe. There is no room for much error. I actually know few people that can get a dress like that right. Maybe Roxie, my apparel construction teacher, and Nick Verreos from Project Runway, because they are both masterful technicians and dressmakers.This is the wikipedia explanation for bias cuts and why...

The bias(US) or cross-grain (UK) direction of a piece of woven fabric, usually referred to simply as "the bias" or "the cross-grain", is at 45 degrees to its warp and weft threads. Every piece of woven fabric has two biases, perpendicular to each other. Non-woven fabrics such as felt or interfacing do not have a bias.


Woven fabric is more elastic as well as more fluid in the bias direction, compared to the on-grain direction. This property facilitates garments and garment details that require extra elasticity or drapability or flexibility, such as bias-cut skirts and dresses, neckties, piping trims and decorations, bound seams, etc.

The "bias-cut" is a technique used by designers for cutting clothing to utilize the greater stretch in the bias or diagonal direction of the fabric, thereby causing it to accentuate body lines and curves and drape softly. For example, a full-skirted dress cut on the bias will hang more gracefully or a narrow dress will cling to the figure. Bias-cut garments were an important feature of the designs of Madeleine Vionnet in 1920s and 1930s and bias-cut styles are revived periodically. In the Middle Ages, before the development of knitting, hose were cut on the bias in order to make them fit better. The old spelling was byesse.

A garment made of woven fabric is said to be "cut on the bias" when the fabric's warp and weft threads are at 45 degrees to its major seam lines.

Note: The term "Cross-grain" in the US refers to the direction perpendicular to the length-of-grain (selvage edges), not the diagonal.


Fabric Grain: Fabric Grain effects they way fabric will hang and drape. There are three types of fabric grain.

  • Lengthwise grain refers to the threads in fabric which run the length of the fabric, parallel to the selvedge of the fabric.
  • Crosswise grain are the threads that run perpendicular to the selvedge of the fabric or the cut edge of the fabric as it comes off the bolt.
  • Bias grain is the thread line that is at a right angle to the lengthwise and crosswise grain of the fabric as it is on the bolt. The bias has stretch in woven fabric and will hang differently than a garment that has been cut on the straight or crosswise grain.

Woven Fabric: When you are working with woven fabric, the lengthwise and crosswise grain will not have any stretch. Depending on the tightness of the weave the fabric may have "give" but it will not stretch.

The Bias grain however will stretch, making the bias grain a perfect for couture areas such as covering cording to create your own piping.

Because the bias grain does react differently that the lengthwise or crosswise grain it may require special handling. For example; A skirt cut on the bias grain must hang for 24 hours before you attempt to hem it.

So if you make a dress like that, you have know exactly what you are doing, and it's going to be at least 700 bucks. Just for the labour. The fabric, retail, will run you at least 35 bucks a yard, dirt cheap, and you will need about 7 to be on the safe side.

So really making that dress or a faximile thereoff, was not the best option even with this pattern which was her thought...

Again lovely and awesome, but the EXACT same issues from the first dress apply to this pattern. You might as well try to reproduce the first dress verbatim.

So my alternative was actually buying this Isaac Mizrahi wedding gown from

Bias cut. 100% silk. Same silhouette as the one she initially picked. Her size. for 129 dollars which is the price of 3 yards of fabric or half of which she would have spent on just the fabric. You cannot beat this deal because Isaac and Target buy the fabric WHOLESALE and get a great deal on the labour because of VOLUME. And Isaac is able to do miracles with 2.99 and a piece of chewed gum. I say that ALL the time.

I took into account her figure, budget, cost, time and difficulty and potential complications in producing the dress and I came up with the best possible option, because I know by heart and have memorized almost every garment available in over a size 12 at any given season. Everywhere and by everyone. So I have all variables covered for any occasion. Why? Because I am wired that way. I have also all of the major designer collections memorized garment by garment and most popular pieces in my favourite lines as well as the stock available at most major high end retailers in the US, Canada and the UK. At any given time. And I don't even get paid to do this. I just do it.

That is why my polyvores look different than most straight chicks' and that is why the American Idol stylists suck balls and why Carolina Herrera and Donna Karan don't hold a candle to Mizrahi or Galliano or McQueen. Because they just don't have the JUICE. Vivienne Westwood, on the other hand, does because like me, she is a gay-male minded straight woman and so were Coco Chanel and Elsa Schiapparelli. We just are wired that way.

I mean geezus and for God's sake.... GAY MEN come to ME for fashion advice and styling... Does that tell you something about how GIFTED I am for this shit? I mean I am UNGODLY with clothing...I look at every detail and it all has a rythm and a place and is like a symphony that is being composed in my head when styling an outfit or designing a garment. I can hear the slightest out of tune chord and it is painful and dischordant.

And in in my case it is even more exquisite, because I am so scholarly about fashion. It's not just instinct.

So what I am saying, is when you need advice about clothing, go to your nearest and dearest gay-minded individual. Not a regular straight chick friend or relative because she might point you towards this

And you might convince each other that it is truly beautiful because of emotions running high at the time. And you will not know any better. And then when you look at the photos 10 years from now.... like the Manolo The Shoe Blogger would say... AYYYYYY...


tehkou said...

Hmm, I didn't spend my teenage years giggling about boys or singing along with Cher -- I spent them being bitter and intellectual and willfully refusing to shave my legs and wearing a lot of comfortable but unflattering clothes. I always figured that made me mostly straight male-minded (except that I like guys).

The information on bias cuts is very enlightening, though. Thank you for sharing it.

Milla said...

You are correct. That would make you hetero but straight male minded.
About half of my best girlfriends are exactly like you, some are regular boy-giggling girls and a few are like me gay-male minded women. We are somewhat less frequent.I think that the regular girly girls are the most common. They made my life and the life of my intellectual non-leg shaving friends miserable.
I am intellectual but more in a Boticelli/Poe/ Dickens/ Joseph Campbell/Basquiat/Twyla Tharp/ Che Guevara pre-Cuba/Malcolm McLarren kind of way.
With me its all about beauty and edge and aesthetics and being moved and challenged.
That is why science and medicine always feel so dry to me except for microbiology which is totally beautiful and poetic.
You are welcome. My teacher at school is an excellent technician and she spent a lot of time explaining these things to us and showing us how they came into play.

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