Dangerous Listing / by Alison Little

Wishlists are an odd number - a promise to purchase, and a looming fate of overconsumption.

“The list is the origin of culture. It’s part of the history of art and literature. What does culture want? To make infinity comprehensible. It also wants to create order—not always, but often. And how, as a human being, does one face infinity? How does one attempt to grasp the incomprehensible? Through lists, through catalogs, through collections in museums and through encyclopedias and dictionaries.”
—Umberto Eco, interview with Der Spiegel

I love lists - as I've mentioned in past posts at the old blog, the Sears Wishbook was an annual favourite. I read Buzzfeed's daily lists with relish. And I jumped on the Clear app bandwagon when my better half showed off its' ombre list features and musical tones. I think it's the sense of artificial organisation that comes with writing, neat columns, and thinking of things I want to consume.

Which is why I love me a good seasonal wishlist. While I'm totally broke, it's almost like a forecaster for how I'm going to spend the next few months - even if I can't afford any of the items. I'll try to build them from my closet.

In her article 127 Reasons We're Fascinated by Lists, Jillian Steinhauer writes that where the list began as an initiator of culture, we're now so inundated by them that they're inescapable. The internet is

dominated by lists: regulations, personal listographies, sales charts and more. In fact,

When you think about it, list making has a kind of creative limit: it’s mostly aggregation, filling empty spots with preexisting items. But choosing those items is often an assertion of power, an act of curation: what doesn’t make the cut is as important as what does.

While I agree with Steinhauer that lists are personal acts of curation, I don't think that all list inherently insular activities. When I make a wishlist or a pinterest board, quite often I'm looking for input - what do my friends and/or followers want to include? It's rare that I get any feedback, but the intent is there. I list because I want to share my choices with others, and hear their suggestions.

A list has infinite scope and scale - it can contain massive, impossible tasks, or the simplest chores. The complexity is relative, but that doesn't mean it's unrelateable. Finding a kindred list spirit is almost as satisfying as creating your own - this person affirms my needs, however consumerist they may be.

In fashion, lists are almost consistently materials-focused - celebrity lists being the major (but not the sole) exception. For plus-size shoppers, bloggers and readers, a fashion list is a lifeline and an inspiration. It throws a line to your tiny, isolated raft saying "here's where you can go." While you may not always find your shape or price point included in such lists, there's a warm fuzzy feeling from seeing another plus-size individual offering examples, choices.

And so, while they are by their very nature definitive, I look on lists as a starting point and a cue towards expansion. So read those People Style Watch mags and Grazia "best-ofs" with a smile, and enjoy your lists.

 (Clockwise from top left): ASOS Curve leggings, metal/leather bracelets from Leatherwraps on Etsy, ASOS Curve blouse, ASOS Curve flamingo tshirt, ASOS Curve dress, Forever 21 flamingo necklace, shoes from Goldenponies on Etsy     , sandals from Evans