Have you ever noticed how so many style/fashion descriptions are based on animals? Vain as a peacock, changing like a chameleon, naked as a jaybird. Well, that last one’s really not so much about clothes as their absence, but it still works. And, by the way, what’s so naked about jaybirds? Whoops. Hello, tangent? It’s me, Katie. Sorry, I got lost in you again.
Anywho, my point is that the natural world has long been a source of style inspiration, comparison, imitation and, in the case of Bjork’s Oscar dress, super-gluing a swan onto yourself and calling it a day.
While it’s fine to take your style cues from the usual suspects: birds, butterflies, flowers, etc., I say it’s time to mix it up a little and consider some of the organisms you may have over looked before. For example, have you ever seen a Crested Auklet? Lady Gaga’s going to be rocking that ‘do any day now…
Right now, I’m taking my style cues from the biology of slime molds. Here’s why:
(1) Slime Molds Defy Easy Labels. Slime molds are large and mobile, yet single-celled and multi-nucleate, and they’ve been confusing scientists since the first researchers tried to classify them. Are they a plant? An animal? A fungus? An alien (in 1973, residents of Dallas, Texas thought so)? Today, slime molds are put in the broadest category possible (Eukarya), because no one can pigeon-hole them.
You shouldn’t pigeon hole yourself either. It’s way more fun to be “that girl who owns a leopard-print pencil skirt that laces up the back but also wears crochet collars, octopus necklaces, polo shirts and long, flowing prairie skirts” than it is to simply be a Rockabilly, a Vintage, a Nerd, A Prep or a Hippie (also know as The Breakfast Club: The New Class).
(2) Slime Molds Are More Than The Labels They Do Have. Not the nicest of names is it, “slime mold”? Separately, they’re the two things I dread finding the most in my shower, and together they’re how I describe the gooey part of a tomato. But these are some of the most beautiful and interesting looking organisms out there. Check them out: gorgeous.
Did you know there’s a slime mold called “Dog Vomit”? That definitely makes the list of most unappealing organism names. An unappealing name might lead you to expect an unappealing slime mold (and, truthfully, the shape leaves something to be desired), but it’s the most gorgeous sunny yellow color.
What labels don’t need to define you? Are you tall, short, skinny, apple-shaped, nerdy (sorry, no help there)? Is that all you are? Didn’t think so.
(3) Slime Molds Try Every Avenue At Least Once. When dispersing in search of food, slime molds will try every direction open to them. Not every path will work, but the slime molds don’t know until they try, so they try everything.
Trying usually never hurt anyone (an exception perhaps being some ill-prepared fugu). As I proved when I ventured into the JC Penney dressing room with harem pants and a fur vest that looks like someone skinned Sweetums, when it comes to trying clothing, you’ll live (and possibly get some hilarious photos that your friends will keep for blackmailing purposes). So try something new. Even something that you’re sure in a million years won’t be right for you – either you’ll be pleasantly surprised or you’ll be vindicated – and being right always feels good.
(4) Slime Molds Figure Out What Works And Build From There. Slime molds may try every avenue once, but they’d don’t stick with what isn’t working for them. Watch this very cool video of Physarum polycephalum in action on some agar with oat flakes. Lots of slime mold branches are sent out, but the ones that reach oat flakes are reinforced and built-up, while the ones that reach nothing are retracted.
So, after you try everything once you get to make choices. What worked, what didn’t? What skirts, pants, accessories, over-all styles are your oat flakes (it’s like what color is your parachute, but yummier)? Find those and build them up.
(5) Slime Molds Don’t Do It Alone. Slime molds form colonies, and happily go about their business feeding on bacteria, releasing spores, and replicating Tokyo’s subway system.
There’s nothing wrong with standing alone out on a style ledge in kente cloth, a tutu, Christmas ornaments dangling from your ears, and a pair of wooden clogs, if that’s who you are and what you want to do (although, on second thought, if you’re in clogs, stay away from ledges). But it’s much more fun if you can find someone to stand out there with you. If you’re lucky, you’ll end up with a group of people who love you and your style. And that way, you can all wear your clogs at the same time and people will think you’re a gang and you’ll gain some awesome street cred.
Any idea where we can get some wooden clogs? I sense a road trip to Holland coming on!