let’s just say we have creative differences
wherein I reveal that I’m a bit of a snob

pocket dress by christina pires
pocket smock dress by christina pires

Yesterday, I wrote a mini manifesto on living a creative life. I’m glad it resonated with many of you. But I wanted to address a couple of comments that left me a little sideways.

A couple people related that they felt uncomfortable in their affluent communities while living a simple, creative life. Their handmade clothes and thrifted duds didn’t meet the label requirement for their neighborhood. I get that, I really do. When everyone thinks that “well off” is one thing and creative is another, it’s hard to be that “other.”

I have an opinion on this. Would you like me to share? Oh good, cause I’m gonna.

It’s cooler to look creative.

Seriously. Have you looked at Anthropologie? Lucky? Even Glamor lately? People pay a lot of money to look more like the handmade, thrifted, fun-to-wear, vintage-inspired goodness that you feel less-than in.

Now this could be because I’m a snob – and really, I kind of am, although I figure being self aware makes it a little better – but I feel pretty good when I walk out of the house wearing something that no one else in my county has in their closet. No amount of Louis Vuittons or Chanel suits or t-shirts plastered with chain store logos make up for the sameness that the rest of the world lives in.

Brand names & labels are only the commercialization of designers. Designers are craftspeople. They make things by hand (see Project Runway for examples!), they try new things, they innovate. Designers are trendsetters. They’re makers, crafters, artists – just like you. As a creative person, you’re tapped into this spirit.

There’s no need to think of your frugal living, creative lifestyle, or out-of-the-norm sense of style as an indicator of having less money. It’s an indicator of being cool – something to strive for – something others wish they had. You look cool, you are cool, people want to be more like you and less like everyone else.

See. I told you I was snobby.

Why not choose to feel good about the creativity that goes into your wardrobe whether it’s hand-me-downs or handmade? While you’re at it, when someone asks you about your awesome sweater or your killer bracelet, tell them where it came from. Don’t make excuses or hem & haw. Say it proudly: it’s vintage, I re-purposed it, I bought it from the designer. Ya know what else? Why not let them know that there isn’t another like it? It’s rare. It’s one-of-a-kind. It’s valuable. Cause it is – and so are you.

If you feel uncomfortable in your community, maybe it’s because you’re ahead of the curve.

42 thoughts on “let’s just say we have creative differences
wherein I reveal that I’m a bit of a snob

  1. whatever you choose to wear it should be about who you are as an individual … your outside represents your inside to the world. You also need to be comfortable in your choices & this will help you be confident. I live in the military world with it’s own set of standards & ideas but at the end of the day i will always be a jeans & t-shirt kinda girl & never own a coach bag (long military overseas story). Be proud of who you are.

    ps. i’m an english girl from cambridge … there’s nothing wrong with being a snob occasionally!

  2. I so totally and completely agree with you – we are 100% on the same page. I KNOW I’m cooler and living a better life than many, being a full time artist and being married to an architect. BUT, how this lifestyle is perceived (beyond the clothing) can be so different depending on where you live. We used to live in Seattle, where this aestheic is really mainstream. But now that I’m living on the east coast, and near my incredibly by-the-book status quo upper middle class family, it’s a little different. There are many people who just don’t get it. But you are right, we should be proud and hold our heads up. We get it, we love living simply, and that’s what’s most important.

  3. well said, tara! i’m finding going to places like old navy nowadays is like looking at a sea of “blah”… there are so many unique finds out there, be different! stand out in a crowd.

    you’re starting little lola out early in a life full of creativity… she’s one trendsetting toddler ๐Ÿ˜‰

    1. ugh, jen! old navy is the worst!

      and i agree – i love that lola has a style all her own already. my mom was pretty good at helping me with that. although, i do distinctly remember her forbidding me to wear a pair of sneakers with a jean skirt i had when i was 6….

  4. People who are perceived as “rich” have assets, but do they have wealth? Not just monetary wealth, but wealth of friends or a wealth of passion for living an enjoyable life? If they feel they need to adhere to a pedigree or standard, my guess is that they’re enjoying little at all.

    I encourage everyone to gently let go of the pressure to conform. Do your thing and don’t feel like you have to fit in that cookie cutter. Those who want to get to know you for who you really are will be the ones you call “friends”. You’ll be the one they call “Ms. Joi De Vivre”.

  5. I’m all about handmade and proud. I make it, I wear it, I make it and I give it as gifts. I’ve never felt looked down upon for these things. It’s how I grew up. My parents were crafty and I’m lucky that it’s rubbed off on me!

  6. People who live a creative life (of any kind) and are lucky enough to have their dreams and paycheck align are the most fortunate folks around…..live how you like, eat what you like, wear what you like and be someone you like!!!

  7. Oh I couldn’t agree more. And if that makes me a snob, too? Well, sign me up!

    Call me crazy, but I’m with you on the OOAK, handmade items that no one else in the world has as being completely and utterly priceless…to me, it’s like saying, “Hi, fashionista. Guess what? This fantastically amazing skirt I’m rocking? You can’t have one. Cuz I made it out of a Ralph Lauren king-sized pillowcase I bought at the thrift store for 99-cents.” Mm-hm.

    Sure. It makes me a little more smug than it should sometimes, but being a trailblazer isn’t easy for anyone redefining the norm. Hold onto the reasons why you’re making these choices and be steadfast. Be passionate. Be not afraid!

    1. right on, evelyn. trailblazing isn’t easy, true – but it’s easier, to me, than buying a new logo t-shirt every month just to keep up! with the marketing department at [trendy retail store].

  8. excellent points in your post and in the comments! i think one of the main reasons we all resonate so intensely with one another in the handmade community is b/c we understand each other, we can let our insecurities about fitting in fall away and be ourselves…and where we all belong.

  9. I agree and everyone should be just a ‘little’ snobby, or at least confident in what they wear (it is so easy to change clothes, I wear to my moods). I see women put together the most awesome outfits, straight from the thrift store. And, then there are the very cool clothing repurposed from thriftstore finds. So many creative souls with such unique point-of-views make my world rock. I love fashion. Also, wish everyone could be monetarily comfortable and have everyone explore their creative side.

  10. I am SO WITH you here! The bags that I make – they are not inexpensive…but they are not super expensive either. ALthough I totally get that my style is not everyone’s style, what I do NOT get is when women with the ability to purchase more than the $20 bag at Target buy bags made from some cheap imitation leather with some some designers logo plastered ALL OVER IT…so that they can have a bag just like so many other people. WHy would they NOT want a bag made just for them – if not my me, by some other artisan who makes quality bags with lots of functionality, etc… Dear LORD those things are so UGLY!!!!

    here endeth the rant! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  11. I just love your ability to just say it. And say it so well. And I just have to giggle a little because today someone complimented my beautiful turquoise crochet shaw which I proudly replied”thanks it came from the goodwill!”. She then said “well,um, it’s still nice.”. She was totally stumbling over the words. Cracked me up. Oh, I should also
    mention that I had on a new rather large owl necklace from a cool “high end” thrift store as well(it’s literally 8″ long and fab).

  12. Love you so much right now. This is totally what it’s all about. When I was a kid people thought I was raised by gypsies because I was all-out, in-their-face original and not afraid to show it–and in thrift finds no less! Now it’s no different, I just have even more style to shame those who cow to peer pressure and look just like every other mall rat and club junkie. I am who I am and I’m not afraid to flaunt it, just because I don’t fit somebody else’s cookie cutter. I am proud of who I am and I live my life true to myself.

    Amber Dawn

    1. and because you life your life true to yourself – you are a trendsetter. no justification necessary!

      keep doing what you do :)

  13. I am so right there with you, and have been ~ happily ~ a weirdo my whole life! I have been lucky in that I have a supportive { and weird! lol} family, so we were all always proud to be different! Now, my husband and I love goodwill and thrift stores and *gasp!*especially curbside trash picking!! {free!}
    I take great joy in my work now, knowing I create OOAK items, and *eventually* like minded people will find my shops and be thrilled to know that no one else in the world will have the _____ they just bought from PrettyCoolShops! Your post renews my hope that there are more than just sheep in the world 8^)

  14. Handmade has gotten the thrifty, do it yourself, inexpensive rep, when often it should be exclusive, unique & rare, ahead of the curve, in terms of labels (I’m ok with labeling things, I just don’t like getting stuck with a label, on a personal level). & yes, if it’s rare & made of quality, unique components, maybe it should be expensive. Those designers that are so coveted are generally where they are because they lead the pack, in exclusivity & imagination. Great thoughts, thanks for posting!

    1. shelley, couldn’t agree more. unfortunately, i think that crafters have given that “cheap” reputation to themselves… we do a disservice to the handmade movement when we try to compete with big box stores.

      we need to own “exclusive, unique & rare, ahead of the curve” just as you said!

  15. Reliance upon a brand name is depressing when you are a creator. Creating something real yourself makes your fantasy a reality… that’s [insert-YOUR NAME-here] brand!

  16. Wonderful post Tara and amazing comments. I’m working really hard to teach my children that handmade doesn’t mean “cheap” or necessarily have to look handmade. I’m trying to teach them that handmade is unique and oh so very special. I feel bad for my daughter when some mean kid at school picks on her for her quirky, colorful clothes but I’m also so proud of her continuing to rock her own style! Why do we dress to fit in? Why not stand out and wear our uniqueness on the outside instead of hiding from it? Why does society want to make us all the the same!? And don’t get me started on the price of designer / labeled items. Ridiculous!

  17. Great post Tara! I always find it a bit amusing when people shop at chain stores in attempt to achieve the handmade, vintage inspired look.

    Sometimes I do feel a little smug knowing that I’m rocking the real thing- and they will probably never know the satisfaction of knowing where their outfit came from, who it was made by, and that it is one of a kind!

  18. YES! Amen! Thank you for this, Tara! If you are a snob, then I am a super-snob because I regularly scoff at Anthropologie and the like for their faux-indie look. In fact, it makes me really, really sad/angry/annoyed/offended when I see something from a mass marketer that I saw on Etsy or Craftster *years* ago. Seriously, it’s happened more than once…YEARS later. What’s funny is the people who buy those things thinking that they are trendy, but actually they are years behind the curve. Ha!

    You make an excellent point about high fashion designers being just like any crafty person with an Etsy shop or a refashioning habit. I mean, that’s what couture is (the highest of high fashion, yes?)…one of a kind, handmade gorgeousness.

  19. Tara, this is cogent and razor-sharp:

    “Brand names & labels are only the commercialization of designers. Designers are craftspeople. They make things by hand (see Project Runway for examples!), they try new things, they innovate. Designers are trendsetters. Theyโ€™re makers, crafters, artists…”

    With this piece, you shifted my thinking.

    No more generic bags (or generic *anything*) for me…

  20. Well put. It is so freeing to be able to create your own unique look … not have some merchandiser at a mall, or a magazine spread create it for you. I mean, it’s good that those people have jobs and all, and they are part of a regulated creative system. But I think our unique consumer tendencies speak volumes about our vantage point on the lurking life-sucking drain of mediocrity. I personally think that many of us are passionate leaders gently emerging. I believe that we understand things differently than the status quo and have the ability to grow above the median, or even get on down below and push forth change, whatever our cause may be. I’m not saying we are better, but we surely are different, and damn proud of it. We’re courageous. It’s not snobby. It’s just who we are. Passionate. Unconventional. Human. No apologies necessary.

  21. I totally live this mantra. I repurpose everything. I learned this from my father, who was a superintendent of our apartment building. We were very frugal and if it had a good use, we used it. Everything in my apartment growing up was repurposed. We learned how to deconstruct, and redo, and remake. It gave me lessons on how to use my hands all my life. When you learn how something is made and how it is constructed, it gives you an appreciation and an “eye” to see and to seek out quality. To seek out those who have talents and to go see how they do it. Whether it’s painting, designing clothes, houses, woodworker, landscaping, masonry, ect. I love the process that goes into making an Hermes Kelly Bag. I love the process that goes into knitting a sweater. I love the feeling of accomplishment when I make something by my own hand and appreciate those who do the same thing. Bravo!

  22. Even though I am a designer, and I love my designs, I have quite often felt “out of it”- like perhaps I am a little bit different to the norm. Over 15 years ago I was wearing vintage, and now in Sydney it seems like everyone wants to own/wear it!

    Over the years I have grown to realise that I LOVE being different. I love owning the only one; I love standing out from the crowd! I now make my designs to be exactly that- stand out “WOW!”.

    People should be happy with their style, no matter if it is a $2 charity shop dress (don’t you just love those bargains!?), or whether it is a $2000 Chanel scarf. People will always admire your style as long as you wear it with confidence, and a little panache!

  23. I love this post! I’ve been making my own clothes since I was 14 and it seems natural to me to create my own style.

    A few years back before I had kids and could afford to go to the gym, I was in the changing room with two young women wearing designer suits. They looked me up and down as if they felt sorry or embarrassed for me and my non-designer outfit. At the time I was working as a seamstress for an independent clothing designer and she often gave me pieces of designer fabric. I had on a raw silk skirt that I had made for the price of the zipper and thread. Probably similar to the fabric of their suits, but no label. I might have felt bad or ashamed, but in fact I felt sorry for them, as they didn’t have the sewing skills I had and could never make themselves a skirt. They were dependent on spending a lot of money to put together a certain look, because they lacked originality.

    I am proud of creating things myself and of supporting handmade by buying and giving handmade items. If that’s snobby, well I’m a snob too!

  24. One of the best lessons I learned my senior year in HS was that “fashionable” had a lot more to do with looking like you knew what you were doing, and a lot less with what expensive store you bought things from! When you act like your “look” is deliberate, people will perceive it that way. Act embarrassed and uncomfortable, people will see that, too.

    I’m a low-income person in a high-income town, but I’m lucky that art and creativity are highly valued here. In this town being a “snobby rich person” is usually expressed by doing all your grocery shopping at Whole Foods :) There are much worse forms of conspicuous consumption!

  25. You’re right on Tara! Growing up most of my clothes were made by my grandma and mom. I used to think it made me weird, but now I’m realizing it made me unique. I used to dream of having the same clothes as other kids… I wish I had embraced it then!

  26. Wow Tara, I’m glad my comment inspired another fantastic post! LOL! I think I misrepresented my feelings about living and looking indie and vintage in my label-obsessed community in my attempt to keep my comments short. I LOVE the way I dress myself and my family and our philosophy of living a handmade and thrifted life. It’s come to be what I stand for and also known for! I’ve challenged myself to buy only handmade or thrifted items for the next year and am blogging about the experience myself. :) My comment on the earlier post came from the fact that I used to be one of those label-obsessed people who had strayed away from my handmade roots. I’m a fourth generation craftsperson. Sorry if I misrepresented all of the wonderful things about living the indie life, or the fulfillment a person can get from it. I’m already a believer and like I said before, I wouldn’t give up my creative life for anything.

    1. Hi Angela!

      I knew as I was writing this that that’s probably actually how you felt. I wanted to take on the perspective of the label-obsessed and project that, while we may think they look down on us, they could very well be wishing they were us! Cause I think a lot of them do :)

      It’s so so so easy to expect others to look down me. But it’s so freeing assume that people are admiring me instead. I don’t think – as a group – we think of that often. We think we have to change people’s minds, not empower them with knowledge of how to express themselves by where they shop. It’s much easier and probably more influential to turn it around :)

      Have a great day!

  27. Tara, I agree 100% with what you’ve written and the comments before me. I’ve been learning a lot about myself this year and one important thing is to be comfortable in your own skin. I grew up with a mom who was a wonderful seamstress. I had wonderful clothes that I wouldn’t have had otherwise. I appreciated it, but still had those teenage longings for the current label du jour. Now, I wish I was a better seamstress so I can start making my own clothes! Ever since I started reading blogs, and blogging myself, I’ve learned to embrace that creative side. I love handmade! I hope to teach my daughters to love handmade and that it’s better to be yourself, even if it means you dress differently that others.

  28. I couldn’t agree more. I always tell people “I know the artist well, she’s a friend of mine and she designed this t-shirt” whenever I get compliments on things I bought from befriended bloggers. I mean, it doesn’t get cooler than that does it?

    And yes. I am a total snob too.

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