personal style and enjoying womanness

It has been a busy, busy fall. Lots of catch-ups on gardening, old friends coming into town, new babies being born, and turning 40.

What’s that, you say? Yes, I hit the big one. I started an eloquent post–actually, I started quite a few eloquent posts on a number of topics–but they are all sitting as “drafts” in my blog. I promise I’ll be back with my thoughtful post on turning 40 but for now, I am thinking about fashion a lot. More than I care to admit.

I’m an intellectual who loves fashion. I dream about it, I research it like mad (the internet has become a dangerous and yet amazing world for a fashion fiend), I have an insane collection of magazines (and Anthropologie catalogs, how I love you) falling all over the place. Twice a year, I spend time writing notes about what my “theme” is for the next season. Fashion is holistic for me; it’s not just about something cool to wear. It’s about storyboarding the next 6 months or so of my life. I think about colors, textures, shapes–where I see myself going and how to express that.

There was the year I wanted to dress all asymmetrical and concrete (this meant a lot of really bold geometric patterns and odd shapes put together). My natural style is pretty feminine and can veer toward the bohemian flowy stuff, so trying to dress in abstraction, like a Picasso rather than a Rembrandt, was about me saying, “I’m comfortable enough with myself that I don’t need to accentuate myself–I’d like to perform and ‘put on’.” Last year I wanted to be a series of Contrasts. Contrasting colors, contrasting shapes–like really, really dramatic and obvious. Almost looking as if they clashed. For me that was about being bold and silly.

I never get there all the way (mostly because I can’t afford to) but just coming up with ideals in my head, in my notebook, or on, say, Polyvore–is a total blast. Just like storyboarding should be.

Sometimes I want to express a character, to try on something, like performance. And sometimes I want to be completely me and need to feel my own individual beauty, not an idea of beauty. I have things that I’m always drawn to, not matter what’s in. So this year, my 40th, I am thinking about my deeper self and who I’ll be as an older woman.

Purple has always been my favorite color and it is the best color on me, period. Anything dramatic and purple always works. Anything that flows and drops down to the floor works. I’m always drawn to really fitted waists and things that emphasize the long neck. I am crazy about boots. I don’t do preppy, unless it’s really ironic, I can’t do body-conscious, unless ironic, I don’t like athletic-y clothes–hiking clothes, yoga clothes, or anything that references them, unless the design is really really clever. I don’t do retro-50s. (I’m just not into the Mad Men thing.) I wish I could dress up every day. Not realistic, I work at home, but if I had an excuse I’d wear tuxedo coats every day.

I guess if I were to describe my ideal personal style, it would be Celtic warrior with a long cape for romanticism and a top hat for humor–and adding a motorcycle jacket half the time. I like elegance but a little bit of punk thrown in. I love art deco shapes. I am a passionate rose gardener, but surprisingly don’t like florals in my own clothing.

Now that you’re thoroughly confused, let’s just say, I know what I like. It works somehow, and it’s me, and it doesn’t fit into any style “type” or subculture. It’s just eclectic and eccentric with a lot of purple mystery.

My wish for women of all ages is that they somehow could “see” and love their beauty, without comparison. I have met women of many ages, from 20 to 70, who are extremely comfortable with their own loveliness and yet many others who seem uncomfortable in their own skin. Often because they haven’t heard enough how beautiful they are or even worse and traumatizing things happened in their lives. I have many more thoughts on this, but it will have to be continued for now! …

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  1. Your aesthetic style preferences are not at all confusing. I felt right at home. (Except that I am 58, purple does not draw me in–green and iridescent natural fiber flowing floor lengthish with the light of the sun and moon do.) I came across your writing while, again, searching for linen dress form. I want to be able to drape flowy garments and adjust them to my liking: not easy to do this for and upon myself. Thank you for your advice on Dressmaker forms.

    Wouldn’t it be nice to suggest to women ways to tap into dressing or home decor styles that are creatively expressive? The permission to throw rules out the window is the needed nudge. Without this textural and colorful expression one’s life is a poverty of aesthetics and self-expression.

    • Hi Heidi, thank you so much for your lovely comment. (Green is also such a deep beautiful color.) As a creative person I have always felt permission to throw out the rules but then understanding myself and having freedom to express what was truly me–and not just an idealistic me–took so much longer. It definitely gets more colorful as I get older!

      As for dress forms, I notice that a lot of people visit this blog looking for one, and I never followed up about them. I own a PGM Pro, which is such a lovely form, but it is bigger and significantly longer than most of my proportions so it’s back to the drawing board. Some day I’d like to have a more customizable form. You may want to take a peak over at my sewing blog, Cloth Habit. I write lots more about sewing and fashion there.

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