Amanda Palmer
Age: 30
Job: Lead singer of the Dresden Dolls
Residence: South End
What's the most indispensable piece of clothing in your closet?
Right now my favorite, all-purpose item is my black, knee-high John Fluevog boots. I wear them everywhere I go. I wear them onstage, and they're great for airports, because they zip on and off.
Whose style do you admire, and would you most like to emulate?
From recent history, I was a huge fan of Cyndi Lauper. I know that's not very highfalutin', but she was always an idol, as was Prince and Adam Ant. Cyndi Lauper's style was so much about expressing herself through her wardrobe.
Is that what you're trying to do as well?
I probably don't spend as much time thinking about it. And I wonder, now and again, if I should actually be thinking about what I'm wearing when I go out. But I'm just too lazy, and I think that's an inherent part of my personality. I tend to cobble together all-purpose items that will look great. If I need to get dressed in five minutes, I don't look like a complete slob.
But the look of the Dresden Dolls onstage appears to be carefully thought out.
It's more convenience than pre-meditated. People are often very surprised to learn this because we get so many props for being a visually oriented band. We find that really funny and ironic, because we spend absolutely no time on our wardrobes. We've basically been wearing the same clothes on stage for five years. But I think the trick to that is because we wear makeup, even though the makeup is very slapdash, it changes everything. Even though Karen O from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs has a wardrobe that's almost the same as mine, the fact that they don't wear makeup tends to lead people down another track. We're a theatrical band and they're a punk band.
Where did the white face paint come from? It seems a bit mime-like.
It really had nothing to do with mime, it was more influenced by the glam and the goth bands that I listened to as a teenager. So it's definitely more Adam Ant than Marcel Marceau. As a street performer, I was used to painting my face for work anyway. It does this very simple thing to your audience that nothing else can do. It's like wearing a mask and stating that this is an actual performance. The difference is subtle but very profound.
What does style mean to you?
I've thought about this a great deal over the course of my life, I think it's something that should be played with but not taken too seriously. I fall somewhere in the middle. It's such a wonderful tool of expression. Given our social contract -- we have to wear clothes -- it's a wonderful tool, especially for calling like-minded others to one's attention. But when taken too seriously, it's a tragedy. The most beautiful style is when you find that gray area in which you're expressing yourself, but it's not pretentious.
How would you describe your personal style?
I think that's your job, isn't it? I don't know. If someone held a gun to my head and asked me to describe my style, I think I'd say it's like some sort of schizophrenic explosion. I absolutely love dressing up, but I would never want to dress up every day. I look at disbelief and awe at women who walk around in high heels all day and wear costumes to work. I'm so impressed.
Do you do a lot of shopping in vintage stores? Yes. The clothes that really excite me when I see them hanging on the rack are really over-the-top, arabesque, frilly, fancy, and shinny things. In that way, I don't think I've evolved past my 7-year-old self. I also have luckily been developing a taste for more understated, vintage stylish stuff. Especially from the 1930s and 1940s. I think those dresses and cuts are so sublime.
What are some of your favorite vintage shops? I have a circuit of stores that I shop in when I'm off-tour in Boston. New and used. On Newbury Street, I go to The Closet, which is one of my absolute favorites. I also love Betsey Johnson, but she's not used. I also usually hit the Garment District in Harvard Square. I used to get all my clothes there as a teenager. My closet's kind of stuff right now, so I'm trying to cut back.
If you were making this list, who would you put on it? That's a good question. Holly Brewer, from Humanwine, has excellent fashion sense. I'd have to vote for her. Adam Glasseye from Reverend Glasseye has excellent duds. I'd have to put Uncle Scam from Harvard Square in there. He's incredible. He's been walking around in these beautiful American flag platform heels ever since I met him.