Friday, November 16, 2007

Dressing to please ourselves

I know my next task here should be my "8 random things about me" post, and I'll get to that later today, but I just spotted something on The Sartorialist that I want to record here. Sart, as many of his commenters seem to address him, has posted a photo of a young woman in a gently evocative, rich palette of neutrals, and he's explaining what it is about the look that inspires him. He says,

The individual items don't really matter to me but I love the harmony of the colors and how beautifully they work together. Some readers have said that I haven't posted as many mens images lately but to me this look is just as inspiring to my wardrobe as a lot of other gentlemen I have shot.Are the colors groundbreaking? noIs the mix "fashion forward"? noCould I imagine looking at this photo and reminding myself in the morning to wear those green cords with my camel cashmere sweater and grey scarf? Absolutely!On a typical day I don't want to look trendy or shocking or fashion forward or even draw much attention to myself but i do want to look nice and feel like I look nice - an image like this reminds me of just another simple way to use items that already exist in my (and probably your) wardrobe.

This immediately reminded me of a post on Une Femme D'Un Certain Age a week or so ago. In that post, which Femme called Hitting the Style Sweet Spot, she appears at first to be rejecting the Sartorialist's approach: Having dressed by instinct that morning, and being very pleased with the results, she wonders if "perhaps I've been overthinking this style thing, and letting myself get too influenced by what I see on The Sartorialist or style blogs/books or other people." In fact, though, Une Femme doesn't say she's eschewing looking at Sart's offerings, but rather that she wants to try not being too influenced by them. Like Sart, she's reminding us that having absorbed the repertoire of images, we can turn back to our own wardrobes and trust our own instincts "to look nice and feel like I look nice" (I love the simplicity of that statement by Sart). Having instinctively dressed from her wardrobe so that she felt as if she looked nice, Une Femme advises us to use such serendipity, when we find it, those dressing-from-the-inside-out days, as she calls them,

to help discover our own style foundations and build upon them. What are the elements of what I wore today that feel so right for me? Minimalism, a neutral color scheme (black and grey), comfort, boots, nothing fussy or frilly. While everyone needs some variety, sometimes at our age, we need to edit more than we need to append, and getting down to our style core is essential to editing wisely.

I think some of this instinctively simple but attractive dress is what drew me to study O'Keeffe's clothing in the many portraits of her in the VAG show. I sensed that she was very clear about the foundations of her personal style and that she was pleased by her clothing and appearance on a daily basis, no matter how little it conformed to the fashion ideals of the day. For myself, I continue to be influenced and inspired by what I see in magazines, in other blogs, in the shops, etc., but I hope to have more and more days when I dress instinctively and feel pleased with the results.


  1. You're right, it's not about not looking at all. But I can compare to looking at a menu in a restaurant: while most everything may be delicious to someone, certain items are more to my taste than others. I don't expect to go into a restaurant and order every item on the menu (though sometimes it can be tough to decide between two or three!). Everyone out there seems to have advice for how we should dress and how we should eat, etc. Listening to oneself is a minor act of courage at times!

  2. This post is spot on and you are right despite copious planning I always grab something different at the last minute, have negleted the most important factor for many of us and that is climate. Heavy rain equals skirts and boots because I can not abide wet trouser bottoms,and so it goes on. Oh to live in Hawaii I was born to dress for this climate.

  3. Deja: Nice analogy. Or like me and the "shelter" magazines -- I love looking at them, but am scarcely going to buy new furniture and paint the walls each time I see a look I like.
    Indigo: You're right! Part of O'Keeffe's look is obviously influenced by her climate -- and you're right about skirts in the rain -- our climate here on the west coast of Canada is similiar to yours -- West Coast Marine, and it's wet, wet, and then a bit more.
    I'm planning right now for a walk to work in the rain and boots-and-skirts it is!


I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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