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Ellie Kemper

Ellie Kemper

Posted: December 2, 2009 12:50 PM

I'm Not Exactly Afraid of Really Intense Fashion

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One nice thing that I have discovered about Los Angeles is the enthusiasm with which people dress. I moved to LA about four months ago, having lived in New York for the previous six years. Obviously, many New Yorkers also take an interest in how they dress. However, theirs is more of a "what-in-the-f&#$-are-you-looking at?!!-F&%$-YOU-and-F&%$-YOUR-FACE" interest. Most New Yorkers want to look amazing, and they want you to understand that they look amazing, but they also want you to stop staring at them. "Yeah, it's a Yeojin Bae Lydia Sunray Pleat Dress," the brunette's cold eyes seem to say. "Now let me sample the Burnt Sugar Tasti-D and get the hell out of my life."

In Los Angeles, people dress with the deep and earnest hope that people will do nothing but stare at them. This makes everything more exciting. Look, it's a city of discovery and possibility and earthquakes and wildfires; anything can happen, at any moment. Do you really want to be caught in your Veggie-Booty-dust-stained sweatpants and Biore pore nose strip when that happens? "No way, Mister," the baby-voiced blonde's doe eyes seem to say. "I wanna be a star."

Listen up, doe-eyed blonde! Los Angeles survives on that which is unpredictable. The unexpected courses through its very veins. Who knows if the middle-aged man shopping next to you at Ralph's is actually Mr. Harvey Weinstein himself, quietly on the lookout for his next leading lady? Or if the easygoing barista at Coffee Bean is, in fact, Heidi Klum, in town for a last minute fashion scout? Who is to say that you won't accidentally get into a fender bender this afternoon, only to learn that the driver whose fender you bent is none other than Mr. Gerard James Butler -- and that he no longer has a fear of commitment? All of these things are enormous possibilities here, and ones that we face every single day.

Here are some of the energetic fashion choices I have recently seen in LA:

1) A bright green raincoat over fishnet stockings and matching bright green sneaker booties. Please note: not even raining outside. Not even cloudy. Fashion at its most dangerous.

2) An eye patch, like the kind a pirate wears, but worn by someone who wasn't a pirate. I know what you're thinking: maybe that person was blind in that eye, or missing that eye. Look, I wasn't raised in a barn; I considered those possibilities too. Until I saw the man lift the eye patch, scratch his eye, and switch the eye patch to the other eye. Why, hello, inspired fashion choice!

3) A woman dressed in nothing but off-white. Off-white blazer, off-white leggings, off-white peep-toe ankle boots. "Are you an off-angel?" I wanted to ask her. But I didn't.

I am not exactly a fashion icon, but I'm also not exactly afraid of being cutting-edge and revolutionary. It would be an exaggeration to say that my entire sense of style has transformed in the few months that I have lived here. Similarly, it would be naive not to acknowledge that my sense of style has evolved considerably in a very short time. In New York, I was content with t-shirts and jeans. When I was feeling creative, I would add a scarf and a weird ring, or extra ChapStick. Here, I am taking it to the next level.

Take my Thanksgiving dinner outfit, for example: camouflage tank top, navy blue blazer, denim leggings with zippers up the side and boots. "Your underwear is cutting into your butt so that it looks like you have four separate buttocks," my brother observed. "You have four separate buttocks," I shot back. Did the rest of my family make fun of me? Sure. Did people make fun of Benjamin Franklin when he discovered electricity? Of course they did. The point is, nothing amazing is ever accomplished by playing it safe.

I, for one, am very grateful to the city and the people of Los Angeles for providing me with not only the inspiration, but the courage to dress in a way that forces me to think. I'm not saying that all of my choices are going to be gold. After all, fashion is a journey -- not a destination. I will say that finally, for once in my life, I am concerned with issues that are much larger than myself: Is my underwear cutting into my butt? Do I need to consider removing some of the skin from my butt? Is there a different way of standing and walking that does not make it look like I have four separate buttocks? Who even knows if I will succeed! Let's just say that it is better to have tried and failed, than never to have tried at all.

Let's just also say that I have decided to retire the denim leggings.