[Translation] Translation request for Sylvain

Alison Wall alison.wall at gmail.com
Tue Jul 28 05:51:11 PDT 2009

Hi Sylvain,

Could you please translate the following text.  Less tasty than the
last one, perhaps, but much more colorful!


Hartwell's Three Laws of Fashion

by David G. Hartwell

  1. To Dress in ignorance of Fashion is to Dress badly.

  2. To Dress knowingly in Fashion is to become invisible.

  3. To Dress knowingly in opposition to Fashion is to have your own style.


   * One may observe in daily life people dressed out of fashion, who
make it intuitively evident that to dress in ignorance of fashion is a
serious aesthetic offense, tantamount to singing off-key in public
alone. These people are Clunky. This offense is often primarily the
result of lack of money, but might just as easily result from an
economic choice of another sort, such a putting all your money into
extra RAM and living on pizza, coke and twinkies.

     I have known Holy Aesthetic Ignorants who put tremendous faith in
an inner light, of intelligence, or personality, or virtue, that
blinds the enlightened ones to all external manifestation (except for
coolth--more about this below). From a distance one of these might
well be mistaken for a street person. (I know an editor who was.)
Science fiction fandom has a large population of Holy Ignorants, as
does physics and engineering, and of course there are Programmers...

     Most of them do not believe in the existence of style in art
either, just content. The worst offenders don't bathe regularly and
sleep in their clothes.

   * One may observe in daily life a generous number of people dressed
in the fashion of the season. It is intuitively evident that they have
spent a certain amount of money to achieve this effect. The first one
to appear in Fashion in a season wins, exciting the admiration and
envy of all other fashion watchers. This is a creative challenge, but
one best left to the wealthy since first of all it costs a great deal
of money, more than the annual salary of the average corporate
executive, to do this four seasons a year, year after year.

     Of course the other millions of people who spend nearly as much
simply lose. They are thought of by their competitors as fashionable
and as knowledgeable --though as I said all are losers except the
first each time--but they are in fact aesthetically impoverished,
their imaginations and creativity brutalized by the compulsion to

     They are like all those writers who aspire to contemporary
literary fashion by writing, say, about ordinary people in ordinary
circumstances in the first person present tense, as certain
contemporary models did. They are not much read. As Samuel R. Delany
has observed, it is as if ten thousand of the finest writing talents
sat simultaneously at their word processors writing the same story. We
are only interested in reading the five or six first and best. It is a
costly but an easy competition to lose. The lottery has better odds.

   * One may attain the level of Philosopher of Fashion by noting the
fashion of the season and then dressing in some other manner
calculated by intention. Everyone who does this, to at least a small
extent, wins. I include grunge in this category, but it is one of many
options, and, since it was elevated for a time to Fashion, has
pitfalls--it can be indistinguishable from Clunky.

     The way of attainment:

           A) Consistency is the enemy.
           Don't use the same solutions every fall, etc. Keep a couple
of those large plastic storage bins for clothes you should put away
for a couple of years until they are surprising again. Buy or
construct extra closet space. Abundant supply is the foundation upon
which a surprising outfit may be regularly built.

           B) Become an expert on one accessory and acquire a large supply.
           Plan your outfit for the day around that accessory. Be it
stockings or neckties, hats or suspenders, make that accessory your
fashion trademark. My own choice, of course, has been neckties.

           C) Never buy retail (except as in D, below).
           Clothing is made to be fashionable in a season. By removing
it from its season and all the associations of that moment, it can be
recreated and renewed--or boring and homely. Select your clothing
cannily in after-season sales, or at best in the finest thrift shops,
nearly-new stores, or church sales wherever the wealthy go to church.

           Do not entirely scorn the Salvation Army stores and such,
but travel on occasion to wealthy suburbs and you will be richly
rewarded in fine clothing at reasonable prices. Once last winter
Kathryn bought three cashmere sweaters in a weekend for a total price
of $18.00. My last Brooks Brothers jacket cost $10.00.

           I know a man who used to go to England every year and buy a
used Rolls Royce for a couple of thousand dollars, then ship it back
to the U.S., drive it for a year and then sell it to finance his next
trip and buy another. He always had money left over and by the time I
met him often bought two or more cars. It worked for years, and so I
incorporated his insight into my theory.

           D) Remember to have a fashionable outfit.
           Pick a public occasion every few months and wear it to
separate yourself from the Ignorants, both in their eyes, and in the
eyes of the poor Fashionables. And nothing beats a tailored outfit or
designer dress on those occasions when you want to look like a million

           E) Always pick another color.
           Every season has its colors. Avoid them. You are free to
build an outfit from every other color and shade. (Avoid unaccompanied
black 'til the 21st century. It is merely the hip color of
invisibility and indistinguishable from Fashion.)

           F) Enlightened practitioners use unusual juxtapositions of color.
           Never fear to experiment with striking clashes. You will
win in the eyes of most Fashionable people (who are insecure because
they can never tell whether you are the next wave they might have to
imitate) and be accorded the respect of your peers, who appreciate
stylistic experimentation. Holy Ignorants may think you are funny, but
will take pains to ignore it, or treat you like an equal. You still

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