I've become as dependent on as I am appreciative of my fashion-blogging friends, all better informed about fashion than I am and from whom I learn so much. They reassure me that, as The Thoughtful Dresser states, "you can't have depths without surfaces" -- that it's okay to care about, and write about, clothes. I check their various sites daily and admire the way they interpret the world of fashion and style with wit and a clear sense of self. I've only met one of them in person, but I'm sure they would all be as instantly recognizable as Duchesse, their on-line fashion sense a direct reflection of their personal style.
I envy and am drawn to that sureness, that conviction about style. I suspect it's a central element in why I keep those blogs in my feed, why I want to read them regularly. But more and more lately, I've been noticing that I feel uncomfortable with some aspects of this conviction, and I feel myself once more on the margins of a community. Dare I admit that sometimes I just don't get the outrage? I quite like the smock or empire-line dress, for example, and I don't mind a dress that's a few inches above the knee. Some of these I'll wear myself, while acknowledging that I may be committing a style faux-pas, but some of them I just love on the hanger, and I love to see them on the gorgeous slim young woman who wears them best. So far, while I'm not thrilled to have to give up certain styles and cuts because my middle is thickening, I'm still able to find many clothes that suit. And, of course, at my age, I've finally got more resources to throw at the clothes-finding problem -- I can spend more money than my daughters, for example, and I actually find it harder to stop buying than I do to find suitable choices for my age.
Perhaps it's because I feel so fortunate at this stage after decades of penny-pinching, after all those years when looking after everyone else's needs in the family meant that my clothes and grooming could often be "relaxed," shall we say, that I also sometimes have misgivings about a propensity we fashion-bloggers have to make our point by denigrating others' dress. While I haven't myself found Crocs appealing, I know too many young moms who find them cheap, cheerful, and eminently practical. And while I do keep my guy looking pretty sharp, I secretly admire (even while they frustrate me terribly) the values that would allow him to wear a style or wash or length of jeans one or two seasons too long. You and I -- and we know who we are -- love fashion and understand how important an investment in personal style can be, but for those who don't or who are not yet in a position to make that a priority, I'm sometimes uncomfortable that I seem to be adding one more pair of judgmental, scrutinizing eyes.
As much as I love, and love to celebrate, fashion, I also think a healthy distrust of it needs to be cultivated alongside. As much as wearing Birkenstocks with my Paris-worthy clothes might offend my fellow style-bloggers, if my Birks take me across that city hand in hand with my husband, letting me impress him with my indefatigability, they're my shoe choice for the day! (Last night, in Vancouver, I hobbled painfully home from the restaurant, a 2k walk, in my high-heeled red Fluevogs, on a day when I'd already run 14K and walked another 6 -- I would have killed for my Birks!). While I know how to do summer-cool and elegant in pale linens or sophisticated black, if my casual white Gap cotton T and bright blue cotton ruffle-tiered Gap skirt make me feel like I'm walking barefoot on a just-sprinkled lawn, that's the combo for me! I can look at the photos of me wearing a just-a-bit-too-short white-and-black-floral Cotton sleeveless smock in Lisbon and groan "what was I thinking?" -- those middle-aged arms, those too-pale legs -- but then I remember how festive and Mediterranean and beloved I felt walking in the shade of the Avenida da Liberdade, and I get past the superficial to the depths. Fashion and style can't always be seen from the outside, if that makes any sense, and while you can't have depths without surfaces, neither should you get stuck at the superficial, right?
Any thoughts? Do you ever have misgivings about your investment in fashion and style? Or am I just overthinking (again!)? Aging daily as I am, you know--and damn, I must be old, today's our 34th anniversary!!! -- I'm trying to quickly acquire some wisdom!! So help out if you can, and leave a comment . . .