Hmm, I vote with Suntiger, I don’t find purportedly deliberately off looks appealing or authentic.

So interesting to see the differences here. I am firmly in team juxtaposition - witty juxtaposition floats my boat when I see it and I do strive for it also. Agree that the sneakers with everything trope is not startling (at least on-line) anymore, but there is so much more that can be done to surprise. I love to juxtapose vintage with current, high with low, Japanese with Belgian, casual with tailored, and so on. It amuses me and really that is my main goal.
But just having read through Lisa's thread about adding pretty I will add the juxtaposition of short grey hair next to my, by definition, feminine face makes me feel far prettier than long dark hair ever did.

Very interesting thread. I like this look Katerina - I think it works because whilst there are formal and casual pieces together- it is harmonious and polished.

I love the differences because I like the individuality of style and our own personal touch. There are plenty of people whose style I love but don’t want to copy.

I think I do like some juxtaposition in my outfits but it’s in a conventional way. And in some ways - it’s almost the norm now to wear sneakers and a pretty dress etc…. I will change and no doubt fashion will too.

I think someone mentioned in one of my posts that I like juxtaposition and I guess I do. If I wear a pretty dress, I feel it is too girly to wear dainty shoes as well (unless I was going to a formal occasion and I felt it would look more appropriate to dress up). Generally, I wear something more masculine to balance it out like boots or rough sandals. If I wear jeans at work, I will generally wear a blazer to smarten it up but if I wear smart pants, I would wear a denim jacket or cardigan so I don't look too smart.

Interesting to think about juxtapositions with ourselves. I’ve been told on ylf that I have a feminine style, but for myself, the only way I feel “girly” is being playful and light-hearted, not in any feminine, soft, pretty way. I will say that I love my city because being mouthy is an art form here. The way I see things seems analytical to most people, and most people associate that with being hard, so I suppose my look counters that. I have thought about trying to look approachable, but as I age, that isn’t so necessary. I guess I’ll do a slow turn over the years, with my style becoming less soft as I become more so, because I don’t want to end up a dumpy, soft old lady in florals. So as my figure softens and hair colors eventually become uniformly soft grey, I might drop some of the flounces to counterbalance those changes. I don’t think I’ll ever get extreme with sharp points on my shoes, hair, and eyebrows, but we’ll see.

@Irina's original comment inadvertently linked me back to what Angie had written about the topic earlier...
(#2 is juxtaposition but #1 is colour, pattern, texture, shine - so #1 is sort of like the *areas* which you might apply #2)

...but then I saw @Angie herself had already commented, so never mind

Just one more thing to add - the 'acceptable' level of juxtaposition seems to be rather culturally led. I suspect everyone's 'poison eye' to a certain 'irregular' aspect collectively adjusted based on how often they saw such a look in trends/ on the high street etc. Just like our now collective yawn towards laceup boots & skirts, I still have slight poison eye towards wide legs & trainers, but I'm sure I'll adjust eventually lol (just as well I'm only *just* able to start wearing my new combat boots, eh? Is it trailblazing if I'm embracing it now that everyone's done with it, lol?)

It does also seem that there are many unspoken rules around what takes something from acceptable to unacceptable juxtaposition - when is a 'dad sneaker' a trendily 'ironic' nod towards Normcore VS a Seinfeld getup (& no, I'm not talking about his current manner of dress...) @Katerina I suspect this may be part of what plays into your discomfort around 'wearing super classic outfits right out' - like @Jenni said, *not* juxtaposing your outfit seems to be the opposite of trendy these days! So if showing some level of 'current' in your outfits is important to you, that might be why. It's just like with hair - when I had mine cut short, I felt like I could just throw on anything but it would still look put together (because the haircut was the 'trendy' ingredient), but now I feel like I need accessories to make it look like I didn't just roll out of bed with my currently long hair

Katerina - Forgive me if I missed the point. But I was wondering if juxtaposition is really the element you are seeking. Are you really looking for the element of surprise. Juxtaposition can do that. But surprise, unusual, whimsy, unique. The woman who wears her tiny bee or bug broach on the back of her shoulder gets a double take. The unusual ethnic or creative necklace. The vintage large Bakelite frames that are now sunglasses. Vintage ornate sweater clips and beaded sweater with torn jeans. The eye catching often created due to necessity. Like the first woman who tied her scarf to her handbag was probably hot. A scarf used as a belt probably because she lacked a belt. Safety pins to hold a ripped seam together. But it can also be deliberate. I can’t wear shoes without orthotics anymore. I had to go to a black tie wedding and finally opted for the EF purl booties. They were ok but I didn’t think they looked deliberate. Although my feet were happy. I’m shopping silver ankle bracelets and boot bracelets. I have frye harness straps to change the look of my boots. But I’ve never seen this done irl. If I wear this and someone notices that could kick off a micro trend. Like the first woman who got sick of wearing a skirt over her leggings coming up with skirted legging. I got the feeling your not looking for juxtaposition so much as a surprise. An element of delight. Creative but deliberate. A unique but appropriate usage. Like taking that long opera length necklace and running the length down the back. Or a beautiful broach at the bottom of a low backed dress. Sometimes achieved through juxtaposition velvet laces on combat boots but sometimes something unique or a unique or whimsical usage of a common item. Small decorative broaches covering the moth holes in your cashmere sweater become an art form……

This post has 5 photos. Photos uploaded by this member are only visible to other logged in members.

If you aren't a member, but would like to participate, please consider signing up. It only takes a minute and we'd love to have you.

Gryffin, that’s how I understood this initially. My first reply teased out the difference between distinctive/surprising and juxtaposition.

Fash - I absolutely love what you wrote and love the outfit. My son being a music major, I thought your comparison to music and increased dissonance was really interesting. But doesn't it go the other way in fashion too? Creating harmony and order out of dissonance. Like the pairing of the black beaded antique cashmere sweater and ornate sweather clip with the ripped jeans and combat boots? Balance, theme and variation, old and new, new uses of existing. As much as all things go toward entropy and chaos in physics, it's the tension between the two that I think is really beautiful. But I love the element of "play" in your outfits. How you are fearless, fun, creating balance and elegance but always with a wink and a smile. That's how I react to your outfits. They always put a smile on my face!!

Gryffin, that is so sweet of you to say—thank you!

Gryffin, I love how you brought the element of ‘surprise’ and/or ‘whimsy’ into focus, in a way I hadn’t previously considered!

I’m digesting a new understanding that sometimes juxtaposition has surprise, and sometimes it plods along, and sometimes it strides confidently.

Going back to Katerina’s original questions:

“So, does a juxtaposition per definition have to involve an unusual, or unexpected combination?” No, I don’t suppose it does.

And what ARE the juxtapositions of TODAY? The only one I can think of is sneakers + dressy skirt formula that I’ve seen all over social media. (Btw, the only time I ever noticed this in real-life Atlanta was when my fashionista friend wore this pairing while hosting at a restaurant, in 2018).

“What is a juxtaposition to you?” I commented earlier.

“Do you consciously or intuitively build it into your outfits and style?” I don’t believe I do. I like “harmonious”, and themes, like safari, equestrian, pirate, academia, etc.

This is so interesting to read though! As usual, Gryffin said what I would have liked to, and much better than I would have! I feel like juxtaposition used to be rare and thus a way to create uniqueness, but now that it's mainstream, it's still juxtaposition, but it's not really unique anymore - in fact, it makes me think of Angie's knit sweater and skirt post - the matchy match style is now a juxtaposition to, well, juxtaposition!

Another thought inspired by various pieces within the thread, is that I agree that juxtaposition can look far too staged ... to my eye, for it to work it has to make actual sense ... like juxtaposing a moto jacket over a pretty dress and delicate booties can make perfect sense; I can picture a sensible story - woman gets dressed, it's chilly so she grabs a jacket and doesn't worry about it matching per se. This is sort of a cool and modern approach to dressing to me. Not so much with stilettos and workout gear, or flips flops with a winter jacket - this is debatably good for a photo on Instagram, but not for much else. To my eye, this doesn't work and bleeds into that other fraught language territory - "trying too hard".

Not sure if that makes any sense at all, but thanks for the brain exercise!

Such interesting questions and what a great conversation. I've enjoyed the visuals, too. Thanks for raising this, Katerina, and thanks everyone for your smart thoughts.

I use juxtaposition a lot in my writing and I've noticed that readers have mixed feelings about that. Some find it jarring and disruptive. It takes them out of the narrative. Others love it -- they enjoy that feeling of being brought up short and use the pause (white space on the page) to think about the relationship of the two (or more) different elements. For me, as author, there's always some connection (which I typically get to, later in the piece) but keeping some gaps builds suspense. -- or I guess surprise.

Anyway. Until I came you YLF I did not understand that juxtaposition was the missing element in my style. I was raised by an old fashioned mother apart from a short period in my 20s didn't really. pay attention to fashion for years so when I started rebuilding a wardrobe after weight loss I couldn't figure out what to do. Classic tends to suit me -- but an all classic outfit looked and felt boring and stilted.

At the time, my hair was long and feminine (unusual for me; I'd worn a pixie off and on since I was 6). Angie encouraged me to cut it short (my usual style) and bingo -- I instantly felt like myself. The short hair provided just the right degree of contrast to the classic or more feminine elements in my clothing.

Since then, I've continued to play with contrasts and juxtapositions. I don't think I'm especially creative with any of this -- I pretty much go with what works for my actual life, so that means, yes, denim or moto jacket with a skirt, something a bit distressed with something smooth or silky, a sparkly necklace with flannel shirt, sneakers with a suit or a skirt, etc. I also pattern mix a lot. And my now-silver hair offers a distinct contrast with the somewhat youthful and sometimes playful/ whimsical elements of my style. As well as with the energy of my movement patterns.

None of this feels unexpected or distinctive or unique in today's fashion environment. In fact, I borrow it (unconsciously, usually) from images I see here or at retail.

I'm not sure I'm really after distinctive or unique, though. In my art, I don't strive for originality. I strive for authenticity and might happen on originality in the process. I think maybe in fashion it is similar. I gauge "authenticity" more by intuition and feel than by anything else (in both realms).

So the reason I juxtapose is not in order to get other people's attention; it's to express my own aesthetic and serve my own practical needs.

Suz, I love your distinction between originality and authenticity ... well said!

Suz, I feel exactly the same! I started to add different elements to my default classic style some years ago. Nothing “unexpected “ just a small twist. I also think that age plays a huge role in it, at least in my case. As I get older, I tend to dress more classic and experiment less. Adding some juxtaposition emboldened me to some degree to play more with fashion.

I second Helena's appreciation of Suz's comment. Yes authenticity is the goal with originality the occasional by-product. Love that!

Seeing as each person is unique, authenticity would lead to originality, wouldn’t it? But I agree with Suz and others that trying to turn the arrows in the opposite way is problematic.

Juxtaposition doesn’t need to equal weird or wacky or jarring.

Juxtaposing elements in all kinds of design can create visual flow, even a kind of harmony. I think some people are interpreting “juxtaposition” as throwing disparate elements together for shock effect.

Janet, I agree with you on weird and wacky not being synonyms for juxtaposition, but can you explain about jarring?

Jarring = clashing or incongruous

Yes. How is a juxtaposition not clashing? Genuine question. Definitions for them are very similar. I see that we get used to some juxtapositions, like the examples at the beginning of Katerina’s original post and the music thing I mentioned, but isn’t getting used to the clash different from it never existing?

ETA—are you going at it from the opposite direction, that not everything that’s jarring is a juxtaposition?

Helena, I love your take on it not looking staged, but sort of an organic emergence, because I don't do juxtaposition a lot (or at all? I'm thinking hard on past outfits now). Certainly, it's never been on my radar as something I needed to try. Your comment is very helpful, because it gives me a starting point I can use!

Suz, your comparison to writing really wow'd me! I had not thought about the 'movement' energy of juxtaposition in an outfit. Now I'm considering how there might be a 'rhythm' to an outfit, or a syntax in the 'speech' of it. And Janet, your concise summary about harmony and flow, as opposed to jarring or wacky, has made this entire concept more accessible to me.

Overall, I feel this entire thread is like getting to take a semester at Parsons. Katerina, thank you for bringing up the subject!

Building on Janet's recent comment, an example of an extremely harmonious setting, built on juxtaposition (e.g., square grid with rounded shapes, smooth placid water with rough stone, small elements with large, and so on). Your eye dances around and takes it all in, but the overall effect is beautifully harmonious, elegant, peaceful, not jarring. I would say that juxtaposition of different elements is one of the defining characteristics of Japanese gardens. These are not "surprising" elements, since they've been used for centuries, but still delightful and very pleasing (at least to me). Obviously, clothes and personal style aren't the same as a garden, but the basic point is generalizable :).

This post has 1 photo. Photos uploaded by this member are only visible to other logged in members.

If you aren't a member, but would like to participate, please consider signing up. It only takes a minute and we'd love to have you.

Juxtaposition need not be jarring or clashing, from an artistic point of view. I’m speaking as someone who employs and studies juxtaposition in art and design. One can juxtapose antique with modern, soft vs hard textures, dressy and casual, in a way that surprises the eye and enlivens the individual elements, drawing attention to the unique qualities of each, without actually clashing or being visually dissonant.

Certain types of juxtaposition may employ clashing or more jarring elements, but my point is that juxtaposition is a tool for building interest in visual design that may or may not include more extreme examples. Hope that helps!

Ah, Jonesy and I are thinking very much along the same wavelengths and cross posted! Thanks, Jonesy. Lovely example.

Looking at that garden photo, it illustrates nicely what I’m talking about. The geometric architectural manmade forms contrast nicely with the rounded organic shapes, forming a type of punctuation on the design. They lead the eye through and create a dynamic effect. The same idea can be employed in an outfit, etc.

Janet, thanks for explaining more. I think I’m catching on, with the help of examples. What you said about it drawing attention to the individual properties of each makes sense to me too. So then there must be kind of a moving line that divides juxtaposition from clash, depending on viewers’ affinity for variety?

Jonesy, thanks for that extended example! Thinking about the same concept in a different context makes it clearer.

MB, yes, this is why my moniker here is about learning.

Jonesy & Janet, thank you so much for bringing up juxtaposition in art and design and drawing parallels with fashion. I could never put into words like you did! In our home interior we also use juxtaposition to highlight some elements or textures and to mix contemporary with a few antiques. And I often see this tool being used by my husband in his photography.

SF my opinion is that I don't think authenticity will necessarily look unique ... imo, for example, the best art is often appreciated by wide audiences because there is something universal contained therein ... therefore a large number of people could authentically share a taste without being unique.

In my personal experience, sometimes authenticity and uniqueness can actually be opposed to each other! Think of the individual who rejects what's mainstream simply because it's mainstream. That has always struck me as fairly inauthentic.

When it comes to clothes, let's say, of course the differences between individual appearances means that no two outfits would look the same ... but two people could authentically, but not uniquely, choose the same outfit.

Just my humble opinion on that point

Janet and Jonesy -- thanks for this great example and explanation. I agree 100%. I think I used the word "jarring" above (in talking about writing) because there are times when some readers experience some forms of juxtaposition in that way -- but mostly it has to do with familiarity, i.e. they may be unfamiliar with that particular contrast/ strategy. Other readers find it dynamic but not jarring, or even harmonious -- much as we find that Japanese garden harmonious despite (or maybe because) of its contrasting elements.

Janet, I do think juxtaposition can create a sense of "movement' or energy in an outfit. I like the idea of the "syntax" of an outfit, too!

For me, that movement is one type of drama. There's the drama of stillness -- an all monochrome outfit (esp. in black), one with long vertical lines -- and then there is the drama of contrast, which creates a kind of dynamism. Not sure I'm expressing it well, but I know it's that type of movement that I need to create in outfits or else I feel inauthentic and uncomfortable. Too much stillness isn't me.