Welcome to Celeb Look of the Week! An MR column wherein one member of our editorial team, once a week, waxes poetic about one recently worn celeb outfit they can’t stop thinking about. For this installment, Harling examines the relentless allure of one Tilda Swinton.
Last week, Tilda Swinton, patron saint of outside-the-box celebrity attire, wore one of her most bizarre off-duty outfits to date. It looked like a hodgepodge of random things she pulled hastily out of her wardrobe that day, reminiscent of what my mom might have thrown on to drop me off at my school bus stop on a particularly frenzied weekday long ago: pink trousers, a white shirt dress, a royal blue coat (or robe?), white sneakers, aviator sunglasses, a messenger bag worn in the manner of a true messenger bag (i.e. strapped resolutely cross-body), and a hat that was not quite a fedora and not quite a newsboy cap.
It’s the kind of outfit — and color combination — that many people would likely pronounce “objectively bad,” which is why, when I promptly fell in love with it, I was compelled to unpack exactly why. It didn’t elevate weirdness into chicness or make me rethink black-tie like many of Swinton’s prior fashion choices have, but it still had a distinct aura of cool. Not because of the clothing itself, but because of how it was combined in a way that clearly disregarded what anyone else might think.
But then again, “not caring” has always been sartorially in vogue, and has always, to some extent, factored into our perception of cool. My fascination with Swinton’s outfit went deeper than just that, clearly tied in some way to her persona. Because she is already pegged in my mind as a cool and interesting person with cool and interesting taste, I think that’s the perspective with which I automatically examine all of her outfits. She could be wearing a skirt made of slime and a T-shirt emblazoned with the words “Bite Me,” and I would probably say to myself, ooooooh! How delightful!
This isn’t to say that I’m absorbing her outfits blindly, but rather that I appreciate her point of view to the extent that I’m compelled to give it more than just the benefit of the doubt. I’m receptive to what it might be trying to tell me, even if it challenges my prior conceptions of what I thought I liked or didn’t like. In general, I’ve found this internal dialogue to be the primary foundation of appreciating someone else’s personal style that is radically different from my own, prompting me to expand my understanding of what constitutes a “good” outfit for reasons apart from whether or not I would wear it myself.
Would I wear a hat that is not quite a fedora and not quite a newsboy cap? I doubt it. But that’s not going to stop me from gazing at Swinton doing so with an appropriate mix of awe and admiration.
Photo by MediaPunch/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images via Getty Images.