not so long ago, back in the summer of 2007, i posted a series of interviews with select wardrobe_remix members here on bits and bobbins, called remix(ers)_revealed. a diverse spate of w_r‘s expounded upon fashion, life and style…and the results were quite illuminating. at the time, remix(ers)_revealed was a thrice weekly series. however, due to some personal health issues of mine, the series was shelved in mid-july.
this interview with wardrobe_remix members patrick and holly (aka hen power) was an interview from the aforementioned series that was never posted…until today. enjoy!
THE WARDROBE_REMIX(ERS) BEING REVEALED:
name: Patrick Barber & Holly McGuire
flickr handle: hen power (which [they] share with each other)
age: PB: 39 / HM: 40
location: Portland OR USA
websites or blogs:
flickr groups Patrick administers which are relevant to w_r:
other important basic details about [yourselves] that you’d like to reveal?
Holly: I like doing things for myself, like cooking, getting around by bicycle,
participating in food production. Oddly, I don’t much like sewing
clothes–I’ve not gotten the hang of it, but I do sew quilts, and practical
items, like fabric produce bags. This tendency influences most things about
my daily life, like the fact that I work for myself, wear practical clothes,
and don’t watch TV.
what do you do for a living?
We run a small graphic design company from a home office. We mostly design and produce publications, and most of those publications are books. We’re on the verge of needing employees which is intimidating.
what are your passions/obsessions/hobbies/aspirations?
Patrick: Urban agriculture and our relationship to our foodways. Right now we are starting up a volunteer-run egg farm on a small historic farm located in the city of Portland. Learning about our past agricultural heritage, and seeking ways to integrate it into urban lives in the present and future, is my passion/obsession/aspiration. In fact, those three words are perfect descriptors for how I feel about this part of my life.
I also like to draw, knit, cook, and to work on our bicycles. I love building bicycle wheels.
Holly: -Having one or two children.
-Participating as deeply as possible in local food production, meaning getting to know and supporting the farmers who grow and raise the plants and animals that feed me; actually helping to grow and raise those plants and animals whenever possible; teaching others about their connection to this critical and too often ignored piece of our world.
-Simple, well-made clothing that lives well on my body, on my bike, at my desk, and on the farm. Comfortable shoes that last more than a year, and look nice too.
what inspires you?
Patrick: I find our church, First Unitarian here in Portland, to be a great source of inspiration. I also find inspiration in the egg farm we have started, and the people we are working with because of that. It’s a positive feedback loop. I go to church and am inspired and engaged by the sermons and the music, and then I feel inspired to do my urban agriculture work. And then I feel like that work is recognized by the ministers at church. The church thing is new to me — I’ve never gone to church until about two years ago. I’m really enjoying it all.
Holly: Beauty and color.
People who dive in and help out.
The patterns and cycles of nature and life.
Church (First Unitarian)–both the sermons and the choirs.
how do you define “style”?
Patrick: When a writer or a jazz singer has style, that means, in some sense, that the artist has developed her own way of interpreting the language she is speaking. When you’re a writer starting out, you imitate. You find writing you love, and copy it. If you keep at it and stay conscious with your work, you develop your own voice. In jazz singing, of course, that “voice” is literal. You stop sounding like Billie Holiday and start sounding like Madeleine Peyroux.
Though the term “style” is used more broadly when it comes to fashion, I like to think of sartorial style in the same terms as I do with regard to writing, singing, or other arts. The remixers and style icons who I admire truly do have their own voice, and they’ve built it from layers of imitations, quotes, and knockoffs and grown the whole thing into something coherent.
Holly: Well, my anthropology/academic background is raising its head on this one. My first thought is that lots of stuff has “style” and I don’t like all of it. So that leads me to say that style is what marks something as of a certain aesthetic movement or moment. This is why it is often controversial–it’s connected to culture, it is a veneer that serves to mark something or someone as participating in a social group or movement. Something has style (of whatever sort, e.g. modernist or gothic or techno or suburban) if it is conceived and executed well and with a certain consistency of design, congruent with what it is associated with. At the same time, shifts in styles can actually be markers of a change in society or the end of a movement. I definitely connect “style” more with design, and less with function. But certain movements, like modernism, were highly invested in function in a way that influenced the styles that came out of them. And functionality can define a style, as did the simplicity of Shaker furniture.
how would you describe your personal style?
Patrick: Highly functional and ever so slightly feminine with a vague military bent. Chromatically, mostly soft-toned with occasional sharp edges.
Holly: Modernist quaker. And yes, that is a contradiction in terms, something that
I have to negotiate in myself all the time!
how does your background (personal history, passions, culture, nationality, etc.) come through in the clothes you like and wear, if at all?
Patrick: My mom ran a vintage clothing shop when I was in high school. I learned a lot from that, probably more than I know.
In my teens and 20s I was really into fashion, sometimes at odds with functionality. Later on I became more interested in clothes as function, and, in tandem with some other things going on in my life, I lost a lot of interest in how I looked.
In 2003 Holly and I declared a Buy Nothing Year. I learned a lot about what I had in my closet, and by the end of the year I had a very good idea of what worked and what didn’t. After that, I became more interested in dressing simply, frugally, and well. For example, I started always wearing a clean collared shirt — no more t-shirts in public.
It was like starting anew — instead of demanding that my clothes were chic and fabulous, I demanded that they work well first and foremost, and that secondly they look clean and halfway decent.
From there it’s a pretty straight line to the present. When I found wardrobe_remix in 2006, it was simply a challenge: Can I take my current collection of clothing chosen for function, and make it into something fancy and fun? It’s a worthy challenge.
choose one item in your closet that you feel competely expresses your personal style and/or aesthetic. describe it. what is it and why is it “you”?
Patrick: My green eight-panel Shaun Deller hat embodies everything I would like to seek out in clothing. It is:
–fashionable yet functional
–comfortable across a wide range of temperatures
–made of wool
–great for cycling (designed for it, in fact)
–and best of all it was made by hand, from recycled fabric, by a local designer who I know and whose work and business ethics I respect and admire…
here’s what it looks like!
Holly: I don’t think I can do one item. If I picked an outfit it would be my Chromes, my dark grey (Rivendell) wool t-shirt, and grey wool cardie. The shoes I can’t say, though this winter it would have been my keens. They are on the way out right now, though, so I’m not sure about that piece. Patrick’s gotta have a pic of that combo. Modernist quaker, down to the grey. Simple, (almost) no labels, goes anywhere. The only problem is my cardie is wearing out. Anyone got a good source for a new one?
do you collect anything? if so, what?
Patrick: bicycles. hats. LPs/cds/78s. paper ephemera and photographs. books.
Holly: People who barely know us will say that we must be collectors when they spend a few minutes in our living room. We collect: type (as in lead type, wood type; letraset; pictures of cool type); vintage typewriters; 78s; art; wool shirts; interesting old things like glass insulators and matchboxes; old photos; cooking paper (recipe booklets that manufactureres of kitchen applicances and food products used to send out to people from the early nineteen hundreds to the late sixties–they still make them but that’s pretty much our cut-off date); books books books; rocks; shells; there’s probably more but that’s a few of the things.
what are some of your favorite places to shop when you want to add to your wardrobe? online? locally? anywhere in the world? why are these places favorites of yours?
Patrick: My favorite way to “shop” is to get things from local or independent designers, like the hats from Shaun Deller and the beautiful wool gabardine cycling knickers from Rick Risemberg’s Bicycle Fixation line. It’s great to get to talk to the designers/craftsmen about the garments, and to suggest changes and watch their skills develop and blossom. that’s my favorite way of doing business: person to person.
Locally we’re blessed with some great vintage shops. I’m not much of a shopper lately so I’m no authority on Portland vintage, but a couple of our favorites are Lived-in Lover and Lounge Lizard, both in SE. Also, eBay is a good source for vintage wool such as knickers, pants, and shirts.
That said, the bulk of my wardrobe comes from REI — lightweight clothing that can withstand a lot of activity (ie cycling). A few years ago, this was anything but fashion-related. but nowadays there are some nice options that are both stylish and functional, from REI themselves as well as Prana, North Face, and so on.
My approach is to plan a lot, buy as little as possible, and buy as high quality as we can afford.
Holly: I used to like thrifting, but now I’d rather go to a vintage store where someone has already done the work of sorting through the bins. PDX has a good vintage scene, with people buying things I like. The mark-up is worth it to me. I get one heck of a lot of my clothes at REI–they are getting better and better and making good looking practical clothes. However, I mostly buy from the men’s section. Pants for women are 95% useless in my opinion. They bind and pinch and wear out too fast. I started wearing men’s pants when I was just shy of thirty and have pretty much stayed with them. A shout out to an old friend, Elise, who first suggested it when I was complaining about not being able to find comfortable good looking pants. She dragged me to Abercombie & Fitch and I bought a pair of wide-wale cords that I still have and wear. Men’s clothes are so much better made (though even men’s stuff has been getting cheaper over the years). I occasionally will buy women’s pants or skirts because I see something that catches my eye, but they usually end up sitting in my drawer and closet and only coming out when I am playing dress up for a fancy occasion. I also buy a lot of stuff at one of the bigger bike stores in town, River City, cause they carry good short pants for cycling.
does your location (where you live) affect your style? if so, in what ways? describe what your city or area is like with regard to fashion.
Patrick: I love how Portland is such a comfortable yet fashionable place. People dress all kinds of ways and there seems to be a place for everyone. There’s plenty of room to get creative and stylish, yet it’s definitely OK to put comfort and function first, too. It makes for some neat combinations. Nubby Twiglet also nailed one of my favorite things about this place– it’s great for light layering!
I just came back from Seattle and was surprised at how different it felt with regard to clothing. Everyone in Seattle seemed just a bit more clean-cut and put together than Portland. It’s hard to put my finger on exactly what the difference was, but it was interesting and very easy to notice. It made me appreciate the special style that Portland has.
Holly: Yeah, both in terms of fashion and climate, being in Portland influences my style. The wool thing is just necessary as far as I am concerned. And the hipster contingent here is intense, in a good way. There’s a really great sort of frumpy, yet put together, seventies thing going on, which I enjoy seeing, even when it makes me cringe. Great color sense in this town, too.
what do you think is next in terms of fashion? perhaps something that is currently flying under the radar, but could be really cool and popular later, or perhaps something amazing you’d like to see more of that needs to come back or be the new thing?
Patrick: I love seeing people who wear work clothing with style. By “work clothing” I mean clothing appropriate for physical work, not office work. I’ve been seeing a bit of it around Portland. This will “come back” out of necessity as more of us see the need to get our hands dirty in the world. Muck boots!
I also like all the homemade, hand-altered, and repurposed clothing I’m seeing. Handknits, home-sewn projects, or just using sleeves of old sweaters for legwarmers.
Holly: Well, it’s not under the radar here, but the huge seventies glasses are on
the rise, and I imagine are just showing up elsewhere. I’m a terrible
predictor or trends, though, since I’m too old to follow them anyymore!
you two are super creative with your clothes! share a creative tip or idea about a way people can remix/style their clothing in a fun or innovative way.
Wear what you feel good in. People always look wrong when they are trying to
look like someone else. I have had many phases in my life where I just
didn’t know how I was supposed to look and you could tell. Everything I did
looked “put on”, not worn. As a packrat, I advise saving stuff that’s good
and that you like. You are going to pull it out later and love it again.
style icons: do you have any?
Patrick: –bjork. she drives me crazy sometimes but I always admire and envy the clothing she wears
–david lynch’s movies and twin peaks
–50s jazz, like the fabulous bert stern film “jazz on a summer’s day”– what style!
–Mirabella magazine in its first couple of years. God, what a great “fashion” book. In style and presentation, they presaged a lot of what we’re seeing now in the DIY fashion magazines and, in fact, on flickr.
how did you come across wardrobe_remix? why do you post there? What do you like about it? has anything positive come about for you as a result of posting to the community?
Patrick: I found w_r through flickr, though I don’t remember exactly how. When I found the group, I immediately searched through my photostream and found a photo that would fit in to the group. It was this one.
What I like about it: I treasure being able to chat with people about this kind of thing, and I enjoy the positive vibe of w_r, which is so hard to find on the internet nowadays. I’ve always enjoyed talking about outfits, fashion, etc, but historically I have not known too many people who were as interested in it as I was.
Positive things: I’ve met some great folks, in person! I have been inspired to start things like the Velocouture group, which has been fertile ground for serious thinking about where style and function intersect.
other favorite wardrobe_remix(ers)? who, and why?
Patrick: I’m tempted to avoid playing favorites. Let me just say that every time I check the w_r, I find a new person I’ve never seen before who really impresses me. But I definitely have my favorite folks.
aprilsaurus: the way she repurposes things, makes her own clothes, and can bring together different patterns and cultural signifiers so well. But my favorite thing about April is that she teaches young women how to make their own clothes, too, as part of her work!
midoritsuru: She can look like 100 different people. she takes on so many different styles effortlessly. One of my first favorites on the remix. I remember how I had to keep checking to make sure she was the same person, because she always looked so distinctive and so different from her last shot.
mavenhaven: She brings a great attitude to whatever she is wearing, and she always makes me smile.
duckrabbit: A master of color. She inspires me in so many ways. I end up relating her color sensibility to bikes, graphic design, and other things in my daily life.
hogan wren: her clothes are smart, utilitarian, and friendly, and she always looks comfortable in them. I also like how she wears a lot of hand-me-downs.
only sleeping: The vintage-clothing fan in me absolutely adores Amelia’s style and grace.
snoof: I love how Charlise just doesn’t hold anything back. She is willing to push the limits of sensibility and coherence in her fashion, yet she nearly always ties it together well. Also I am continually amazed by how much mileage she gets out of those platform maryjanes of hers. I wouldn’t think they’d be good for more than one or two outfits but she makes ’em work with everything.
anything else you’d like to say?
Holly: Well, since you ask… I wish women would ditch the high heels. I think they’re kind of regressive. They aren’t safe, both on a twisting/spraining your ankle level, but also because, bluntly, you can’t safely move fast in them. You’re kind of helpless, which if everything goes well is fine, I guess. But things can’t be counted on always to go well, and high heels put you in the position of counting on a savior. Great in Batman movies, but not so great in the real world. They also damage your feet. Yes, I’ve worn them, and yes, I’m sure they helped me get laid a time or two. But I snagged the love of my life without ’em, and things have been great, in bed and out, for the last 10 years.
Patrick: It’s hard for me to express just how gratifying, hilarious, and bizarre it is for me, at this point in my life, to be receiving attention like this about the way I dress. Thanks, y’all.
thanks for your patience and participation, holly and patrick!
i am thinking of resuming the remix(ers)_revealed interview series (but posting it less frequently, say, 2x a month), and i am asking for your help!
i’d like you to suggest:
-any intelligent questions you’d like to hear wardrobe_remix(ers) answer, with regard to fashion, style, culture, or the arts!
-a super stylish wardrobe_remix(er) you’d like to see interviewed for remix(ers)_revealed (even yourself)! (take a look at who has already been interviewed first, by perusing the remix(ers)_revealed archive)
comment here if you wish, or email me with your suggestions. cheers!