Society / Profiles

This Bomb Girl Isn’t Afraid of a Sexy Catsuit — or Anything Else

Jan Strimple is a Proud Fashion Hellion and a Bold Self-Stylist

BY // 10.01.18

September will always be the month of 30 days of fashion. I am still tearing through the massive tomes of magazines filled with luxurious and decadent items that must find their way into my closet. Those pages are also home to countless glamorous models. My choice for the September Bomb Girl was a “duh” moment.

It is time to have the legendary Jan Strimple make her way into this exclusive ladies club.

I hope you enjoyed the fabulous shot of fresh-faced, high-school Jan wearing a skirt she had made herself from a Halston pattern in the September PaperCity print edition. For the voracious fashion addicts out there (like me), here are two more images that my Bomb Girl provided and the answers to my questions which I always pose.

Jan Strimple flipped bob haircut with over-the-knee boots:

Jane Strimple
Jan Strimple’s flipped bob haircut with over-the-knee boots makes quite a statement.

BF: So, what’s the approximate date of this photo (remember to not be too specific or perish the thought and give away age)?

JS: Mid 1980s.

BF: What was the occasion?

JS: This photo shoot was an art collaboration between the photographer, hair and makeup artist and me with the only goal being to create a cool shot.

BF: I must know — what were you wearing — and I want specifics (as a whole ensemble can often not be seen in a photograph)?

JS: This was my favorite catsuit. I lived in catsuits and over-the-knee boots in the 1980s because I traveled internationally to the major fashion weeks. They were comfy on the plane and took very little space in my luggage. I would pack three catsuits, three pairs of over-the-knee boots, and a wardrobe of large scarves and be gone for six weeks at a time.

Thank God for lycra! I would hop off a plane and go directly to a booking looking sleek and pulled together.

BF: What price fashion?

JS: Found these boots in Italy for what I thought was a hideous amount of money for a boot: $600. (It was before shoes and handbags skyrocketed in price in the late 1980s/early 1990s.) I adhere to the “always buy good leathers” philosophy because they upgrade everything you wear.

Thirty plus years later I still throw on these boots as over-the-knee boots waft in and out of fashion. A cowboy heel never goes out of style and Roma’s gets kudos for keeping them kickin’!

BF: Finally — why is this a picture of you?

JS: It’s dramatic. No bows or anything “girly” in sight. I recall my mother putting me in a dress with bows on the first day of kindergarten and when the bus arrived, I ran behind the neighbor’s house and refused to go.

Yes, at age five I had strong opinions on my clothes. I’ll confess I was a fashion hellion to raise!

Jan Strimple street shot with a gun and feathered hat image:

Here’s a Jan Strimple street shot with a gun and feathered hat.

BF: So, what’s the approximate date of this photo (remember to not be too specific or perish the thought and give away age)

JS: Early 1980’s.

BF: What was the occasion?

JS: I purchased this look in London and wore it (minus the hat, vintage gun and boots) to a press party during fashion week in London. After all, was there really anything natural about 1980s fashion? The designer, Ellis Flyte, happened to be at that party and asked if we could do a photo shoot in her look.

She created women’s clothing from vintage menswear fabrics. My favorite fashion has always been clothing that combines the perfect balance of male and female design lines, so I was happy to oblige.

I still feel the most at home in a sculpted shoulder Alexander McQueen jacket or a wickedly tailored pantsuit worn with lace underneath. Think Dietrich in Morroco or Blonde Venus. Love!

BF: I must know — what were you wearing — and I want specifics (as a whole ensemble can often not be seen in a photograph)?

JS: Crushed panne velvet pants, vintage menswear fabric vest and matching boots (it was the 1980s and yes, shoes did match your look!), a Victorian menswear-inspired shirt, a Tricorn hat with a couple of plumes, and a gun.

BF: What price fashion?  In this case, you may not remember the cost of the darling ensemble but perhaps you can share a story of your first big purchase or one that was memorable.

JS: Since I still wear my pieces from the 1980s and mix them with new purchases, I have a skewed view of fashion. I’ve never been interested in following trends, but instead educate myself to them since it’s my business to present them.

Beyond those timeless pantsuits, my philosophy is pretty straightforward: buy the unusual piece. The artsy piece. The piece that does not scream “spring 2018.” I’m a bold self-stylist and those pieces can be worn for years in a myriad of ways.

Does it really matter what those kinds of pieces cost? It’s like buying art: if you love it, and it’s worth it to you, then buy it. It may only have value to you, but if you enjoy it it’s money well-spent.

BF: Finally — why is this a picture of you?

JS: Because it’s playful and so am I. I like to have fun with fashion and don’t take it so very seriously. In Dallas, this would have been a bit edgy, but in London, not so much. I’ve never been girly, so the idea of dressing a bit like a boy was great fun.

Funny thing is that when I wore my hair short in the early 1980s and would come from a show wearing full blown heavy runway makeup, I confused plenty of people that didn’t know me. Since I stood a little over 6-foot-3 in heels I’ve had plenty of occasions across the globe where I was mistaken for a boy in drag.

The question was generally “Are you a boy or a girl?” I always laughed and said “Guess?” in my lowest voice, then went on about my business. You’ve got to have fun with it!

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