Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Oak Lawn Coffee: Jane Ziolkowski

Coffee shops are one of those bizarre places that bridge the gap between the public and private. Because they are often furnished in a more comfortable way than a restaurant or a library, we tend to treat them as if they were a home. Yet, they are a public space. Another curious aspect of the coffee shop is that often the don't-ask-don't-tell deadpan expression of city living is abandoned. For once, it's okay to strike up a conversation with a stranger. You can high-five the barista. No big deal. 

This, I think, contributes to their appeal. It's as if we're rediscovering the agora

Oak Lawn has an especially nice atmosphere. I've never met so many friendly and kind employees as I have there: they seem to be universally interested in other people (and not just the cute customers). And, the whole shop is flooded with natural light which gives it a peaceful and relaxed feel.

The space is for the people, not the people for the space. This idea, I think, should also be reflected in fashion. Our clothes should point to our person; they should outline more vividly who we are (while hiding what communal living demands be hid). That's why dressing yourself is so tricky; it's like conversation or writing. You want to portray who you are, but it would be imprudent to go about publicizing the interior of your soul to the whole world.

My friend, Jane, for instance, has a talent for understatement. She is confident in simplicity, a virtue so often overlooked (especially by me). Her dark and unassuming outfit acts a frame for her beauty, directing attention to her face and hair rather than drawing attention to itself. 

You're not so distracted by what she's wearing that you forget about the person beneath.


  1. I am vividly sweatpants and an XL batman shirt. :P Or did I just do fashion wrong?

    1. Probably doing it wrong :P But, if you believe that sweatpants really are the best way to frame and express your personhood, you might have some other things to worry about than just fashion.