Cute. A Fashion Column: Glamrock Meets ’60s Chic

Peter Meckel

Name: Joanna Lemle
Year: College senior
Major: Environmental studies
Favorite designer: rag & bone
Self-described look: Punk rock meets sexy grandpa
Current obsession: Shoes

Now that we’re done with our two-hour-long talk about the human psyche, and you’ve had three cups of coffee, how did you grow into your personal fashion sense?

I’ve always loved fashion, but I think it’s taken me a while to find my aesthetic because I’m mostly concerned with dressing in a way that flatters my body. I mean, I’m five feet, two inches, so I’m limited to certain styles and fits — it’s not like I can just choose to wear anything. Even if I’m really feeling inspired by specific looks, they don’t always work on me physically.

Can you give me an example of a style that you feel you can’t pull off?

Well, I’ve never felt comfortable in really baggy clothing. I appreciate that aesthetic, but like I said, I’m too short to really pull it off. The same thing goes for the whole boxy, masculine look. That’s why I love rag & bone so much: I love dressing in a masculine way that still flatters my physique, and their designs are men’s clothing that is really tailored for the female body, if that makes sense. God, I love it — it’s so fucking sexy.

So where are you with right now, with your aesthetic?

Oh god. I think it’s kind of transitioning right now. I was really into glam-rock, like just throw me on a motorcycle in some bad-ass, skin-tight leather ensemble, and I’m good to go. But now I’m really inspired by that ’60s, sexy-chic, secretarial Mad Men look. I don’t know if I’m transitioning into a more mature, adult aesthetic, if it’s just a new phase, or what, but I’m having a lot of fun with it.

I love and respect both looks. But to play devil’s advocate, some people might say you’re moving from one end of the spectrum to the other, in terms of dressing to empower yourself as a woman.

I don’t necessarily agree with that. Dressing in a way that is sexy — think Mad Men —doesn’t have to be slutty or disempowering for women. I love my new aesthetic because I appreciate its chic subtleties, however sexy I may look—I do that for me, not just to make myself more appealing to guys.

I agree. I see nothing degrading in dressing sexy, in the way you’re describing. A women’s sexual appeal is empowering, in the sense that it has such a powerful effect over men — it’s useful and beautiful, or special. I don’t think it’s something that should be discouraged.

Along those same lines, I love lingerie more than anything else, but not because I know I’m going to be taking my clothes off and impressing some guy later on. I can be having the worst day ever, and wearing fantastic lingerie just makes my day that much better.

What are your views on fashion as art?

I’ve had some really heated arguments with people here who think that fashion’s artistic integrity is totally undermined by its elitist, consumerist influences. Sure, high-fashion can be pretty unattainable and exclusive in that way, but it’s not like you have to go out and buy couture exclusively — I think it really just comes down to how you want to look.

I totally agree. You can be inspired by something you see on that costs a trillion dollars, but that doesn’t mean you have to spend that much to express yourself in the way you want to.