[To wrap up the 902 Style Files, here's a very special guest: the Hep Kitten herself! Thanks to all the guests who filled in for me during this hectic week. If you missed any of them, check out the rest of the East Coast Guest Posts.]

By Áine (aka “Racquel Valencia”)

“Fashionable is what one wears oneself, and unfashionable is what other people wear.”

I wonder if Oscar Wilde ever envisioned that one day some chick from the Maritimes would take one of his witty little barbs and turn it into a criticism of the cookie-cutter skinny jeans and scarves hipster set. But here we are, and, like Morrissey in “Cemetery Gates”, Wilde is on my side.

Personal style is just that–personal–and maybe that’s why it eludes so many people. Clothes not only shield us from the elements, but allow us to let a bit of ourselves shine through. And why would you want to look like anyone else, much less everyone else? Without further ado, let’s take a tour of my closet.

Like what you see?

Like what you see?

Like what you see, home slice? Lotta black in there. In fact, I think I maybe own half a dozen items that aren’t black, and two of them are dark gray. Why? Equal parts deep-rooted body insecurity, Johnny Cash homage and affinity for Bauhaus and Joy Division, I’d wager.

I’ve been called “Funeral Fun Barbie” by my friends, a designation that I’m never sure exactly how to take. I like black and black likes me, which brings me to Rule #1: KNOW THY BODY AND WHAT FLATTERS IT.

Guys, this goes for you, too. Un-pop that collar, mister. It never did no one no favours.

Black DressThis is possibly my favourite dress ever. If I thought I could get away with it, I would wear it every day. It’s black, it’s lacy, it’s just the right amount of goth and cheerleader…and it attracts kittens, as evidenced by the small white kitten in the foreground (hi, Salty Bob!). I spent more on it than I have on pretty much anything else in my wardrobe, but it’s been so worth it, especially considering how much I’ve worn it.

Remember: the most expensive thing in your wardrobe is the thing you never wear. I don’t care if it cost three dollars or three hundred. Same diff, really. Rule #2: IT’S WORTH SPENDING MONEY ON SOMETHING YOU LOVE.

[photo: kimono]

Let’s get real for a second: ninety-five percent of the time when I’m home, I’m not remotely dolled up. Hells no. Ask anyone (friends, roommates, family, milkman): I’m almost always in a kimono. No ratty bathrobe for this Hep Kitten, and as far as I’m concerned sweatpants = I’ve given up on life.

Hep Kitten

Hep Kitten

Who doesn’t love being lazy and slothful? But you can still look good doing it. Legend has it that, when she went to answer the door, Marilyn Monroe would just toss a sheet and some Chanel No. 5 on. While I’m not advocating public nudity, I think there’s something to be said for Rule #3: DON’T LET YOURSELF GO. NOT EVEN FOR THE CATS.

And now, for the most important part of all, the key to beauty, style, and ass-kicking hotness: a sense of humour. As much as I delight in the dark, there’s beauty on the other side, too. Hell, if I’m only going to have six items of clothing in a colour other than Death, I may as well go the whole hog:

Fuhgeddaboudit!

Fuhgeddaboudit!

Yes, it’s a tight Kelly-green minidress that say “JAMAICA” on it. I bought it for two dollars at a Goodwill store. I swear that thing gets more infamous every day.

Some of the best fashion advice I ever got was from my friend Teddy, a curvy, husky-voiced Italian from Bloor/Ossington. Her two words changed how I look at myself both physically and emotionally, and make up Rule #4: OWN IT.

Whenever I was having a fat/ugly/emo day, Teddy would remind me to own it. If I screwed something up, she’d laugh and say “own it and fuhgeddaboudit!” I find myself repeating those words on a daily basis, and I swear I’ve gotten prettier in the past two years.

Own whatever it is you’re wearing. If it’s Feed Bag Friday, rock the shit out of that burlap dress! Suit-and-Tie Monday and you’re stuck in Paisleyville? Live it up, brother, and make that paisley wonder look as awesome as chains on T-Pain. I’ve seen Teddy rock everything from Timberlands with skirts, to sweats with heels and she always looks like she was born to do it.

Racquel

Priceless

“Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months.”

That may very well be, Oscar, but the right attitude is priceless.

Racquel Valencia is the nom de plume of a North End chick with an inexplicable love of Top 40 hip-hop and a well-documented obsession with 1990’s teen heartthrobs and girly men. This is what she actually looks like. Visit her at Smell the Glove.