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October 21, 2008 / ilegirl


I sat in a waiting room this afternoon and amid all of the magazines spread on the table spied a copy of Psychology Today, which is always an entertaining read.

I didn’t have a long enough wait to finish reading a story about personal style, but the idea remained with me as I drove off after my appointment, and when I checked my blog feeds I found that The Satorialist had posted a fashion shot that embodied the sort of retro chic casual style I love.  The model has low cheekbones, and the haircut hints at a strong but feminine jawline – similar to my own face shape.  This familiarity then had me musing about style and fashion.

Fashion is of course the garments that are produced, and the industry that produces it.   Style is the way we make garments work to suit our lifestyle and personality.  At one time I had a strong sense of style I executed almost fearlessly.  The little fear I had was, in retrospect, largely rational; it was that I could not be so outrageous as to provoke talk, as it was (and is) important to me that I can be taken seriously when I so choose.

More recently I have done what many women heading down the middle of the middle-age road do, which is to abandon style and stick with function.  And now I find I rather bore myself – or worse, scare myself – when I look into the mirror.  Where is that young and energetic, creative gal whose conversation was sprinkled with laughter?  Who is this emaciated hag looking back at me?

This is why style is important.  Style isn’t about wearing Dolce & Gabbana and carrying a Dooney & Burke while wearing a pair of Manolos.  Style is the way we present ourselves to ourselves and the outside world.  I had style when I was so poor that I shopped at thrift stores for secondhand apparel; I found tweed jackets and paired them with jodhpurs and underneath it all a vintage embroidered shell.  I found a subdued green brocade dress from the 1950’s that I wore to my husband’s nightclub gigs, with bright yellow patent leather heels.  I found mohair sweaters and cigarette trousers and little black dresses that left me breathless and cheerful.

When I had executed style, when I liked the view back from the mirror, I felt good.  I smiled at myself.  I felt like this was the me I wished not only to be but to present to the world.  A lot of people don’t care about the image they present, which is fine for them – I am not judging, because everyone is different.  For me, the way I present is important.  It’s important to me in principle to present on the outside who I am on the inside.  I am more comfortable when the interior and the exterior are in harmony.

Now I have a good job and I can afford to shop at Nordstrom’s, and I find myself struggling against the urge to head across the tracks to St. Vincent de Paul instead.  Why am I fighting this?  I fight only to become another who consumes Banana Republics and get lost in a sea of Ann Taylor shifts.  I am not saying I don’t appreciate the craftsmanship of many apparel artists, because I do; I love reading the fashion websites and oohing and aahing over the fashion week videos.  Those clothes are beautiful and the concepts are often provocative.

For me, however, it is the thrill of finding something vintage, or different, or interesting, that engages me.  And so, a little picture posted by my fellow blogger gave me a thousand words today.



Leave a Comment
  1. SanityFound / Oct 21 2008 6:28 pm

    Glad you are back to writing agains (I hope its forever) because I did miss you!

  2. Amber / Oct 22 2008 12:37 pm

    You look really great in Retro too…. it suits both your person and your figure!!!

  3. ilegirl / Oct 22 2008 9:17 pm

    Thanks, Sanity. It’s been crazy-busy at work recently! I’ve barely had time to catch my breath.

    Amber, that is so kind. And thanks for shopping with me this evening. I wish they had those cute shoes you found in black!

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