The Look: Reba Mitchell

Musician, voice-over artist, Girls Rock! Rhode Island board member, bartender at the Dark Lady

Providence Monthly Magazine ·

Music has always given me a space where appearance doesn’t matter. Making music is so focused that, when I’m doing it, I completely forget I have an appearance other people are looking at, which, for a woman, is a very rare feeling. My early experiences seeing women in bands kind of broke the spell that had me believe my life’s work should be becoming an appropriately pretty girl. That feeling is why I play in an ideological feminist hardcore band. It’s why I’m so involved with Girls Rock! Rhode Island. Every girl and woman deserves to have that spell broken.

The world of music is where I first saw myself reflected, aesthetically. Divine, Klaus Nomi, Nina Hagen, Diamanda Galas: they’re brilliant musicians and gentle people with pretty extreme looks because they’re too busy being themselves to filter. That’s what I like. Now, when someone on the street tells me I’m wearing too much make-up or my brassiere plays too heavily into my outfit, I can say to myself ‘Well, Dolly Parton doesn’t think so, and she’s a perfectly wonderful person,’ and keep on walking. Getting gussied up doesn’t have to be superficial. It’s okay to make your outsides match your insides.

I say dress however makes you feel normal, even if that makes you look crazy. Life is too long and fraught to obsess about appearance. I haven’t tried on or purchased anything other than tight black clothes and metallic shoes in about 12 years. I got sick of worrying if there was a way I could look better or slimmer or nicer or whatever, so I figured out a way I like to look and quit thinking about it, hopefully forever. We have more to accomplish than chasing an ideal figure or outfit. Set it and forget it. Let’s move on!

I love to shop at Pillbox Holiday and Rocket to Mars for vintage, Nude in the Arcade for inexplicably affordable custom garments, Craftland for jewelry, and Hot Fashion Corner in Olneyville Square for fabulous $15 Pretty Woman-style emergencies. Hot Fashion Corner, why can’t I quit you?

reba mitchell, julie tremaine, providence, providence monthly, pillbox holiday, rocket to mars, Nude, Divine, Klaus Nomi, Nina Hagen, Diamanda Galas, Dolly Parton, feminist,