You may have an artsy or intellectual cousin. Might even be artsy or intellectual yourself. All to the good. Art and Intellect are cornerstones of the Renaissance, NPR, Burning Man, and other valuable human endeavors. However, this is not quite the same as choosing the Artsy And/Or Intellectual Cousin style in which to dress yourself. Taking up the Artsy Cousin mantle requires commitment, enthusiasm, imagination. And a closet full of clothes with stories.
While there are a few sub-species, (for example, the all-my-clothes-are-black birds of some large cities, or the Pacific Northwestern wood sprites), I do believe this style is, at a high level, universal. Cross-cultural. Not reserved for High WASPs. After all, there is no mall for the Artsy Cousin. The kabbal does not assemble in Tibet and decide that in 2010 there will be ruffles. No Fashion Week for the global aesthetic. Instead, Artsy Cousins of all cultures dress following common principles.
The Artsy Cousin wears clothes that reflect her beliefs. Her travels. It’s possible that the High WASP version is particularly prone to the international style; the cachet of travel and adventure silence the voice of her mother, “Dear, is that really what you want to wear?” Of course she has been mocked, imitated, affectionately teased. She doesn’t mind. Her vision, and her ideas, trump any cultural obligations. Go ahead. Point a finger at the orange harem pants. She will tell you that belly dancing is good for the 2nd and 3rd chakras.
She spends her grandest evenings at home, although can be found in cafes on occasion. No ballgowns. No charity events; she celebrates life. Exotic cooking is probable. Last year it was Moroccan. This year, well, we don’t know. Perhaps Peruvian. Stock up on aji amarillo now. There may be a run on the market.
Of course, along with sandals from the market in Chennai, and skivvies from a vintage store, the High WASP Artsy Cousin may wear Grandmama’s diamond ring. May have donated enough of her trust to charity over time that she feels more sentiment for Gran than guilt for blood money. If she’s been lucky in the equity markets, that is. It’s also true that if her commitment to independence, to global sourcing, to the non-commercial, is real, we’ll all be lucky. A culture is strengthened by the well-loved voyages of its eccentrics.