For years I carried around a list entitled “Stormy’s Rules for Living.” Sadly, that list has “gone missing”. And while I don’t remember everything on it, I do remember one rule that is an amusing holdover from my finishing school days.
“Your shoes should never be lighter or brighter than your hemline.”
Happily, the fashion rules of 2019 are more flexible, but I’m still inclined to look to them for gentle guidelines. I do enjoy fashion and it’s often on my mind these days as I begin to transition from working full time in a professional office to semi-retirement in the not too distant future. This will take some thought and reevaluation on my part. After so many years of dressing for the legal field, I find myself habitually drawn to the more tailored, conservative items. My sister, Jeanne, in an attempt to assist with my transition, will often email her response to a fashion choice I have sent her way with a simple “That just screams OFFICE!”
I’m not concerned about “dressing my age” but more interested in finding my true personal style, probably more playful and relaxed while still looking like I give a damn. Although some people poo-poo the importance of dressing well, I find it helps my confidence immensely when I feel well pulled together. The famous New York fashion photographer Bill Cunningham is quoted as saying “Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of life.” I couldn’t agree more. Like it or not, our clothing tells the world a story about us and I want to write my own story.
The internet is awash with thousands of fashion bloggers. Some have suggested that you choose three words or phrases that you want to describe your style. While I would choose interesting, creative and casual elegance as my three, what would you choose? How would you like your wardrobe to reflect you, your values, your aesthetic and your lifestyle. I want people to admire my outfit, but I still want them to see me. A cardinal rule, tried and true, is you should wear the clothes not the clothes wear you.
Of the many fashion bloggers out there, three that I have followed consistently for the past several years are Over 50 Feeling 40, Une Femme d’un Certain Ageand A Well Styled Life. I have found them all to be both inspiring and instructive. Jennifer Connolly of A Well Styled Lifeoffers a personal styling service via email or virtual personal styling. She can help you put a look together or assist in figuring out which pieces may go with other pieces you may already have in your closet in order to create a flattering look. You can click on the Style tab of her menu bar to find out more about how she can help.
One rule I do embrace is fit is everything. The correct fit can make the difference between an exceptional outfit and a so-so outfit. A good tailor is a great resource. And don’t get me started on the importance of a good bra. The high school my sons attended has a “grand march” before the spring prom each year. The couples are introduced and parade through the gym in their finery. Every year I attended this event, I wanted to stand up and scream to these young women how much better their new dress that they put so much effort into selecting would look with the proper undergarments! With the abundance of shapewear these days, there are garments that can enhance almost every outfit.
Another rule I do follow faithfully is quality over quantity. With Mr. Smith and I “downsizing”, my closet isn’t getting any bigger. And truly, it doesn’t need to be any bigger. I believe the statistic that states we wear 20% of our wardrobe 80% of the time. Obviously, there’s room to curate and if I simply purged 50% of what’s in my closet there would be more than enough room. Being a woman of a certain age, I no longer feel a need to follow every trend or try to fit into some arbitrary societal standard. I have lived through more than one fashion faux pas on my part and am delighted to be more willing to follow my gut and stick to what works for me.
In addition to the abundance of information available online, I also have great role models in my everyday life and hope you do too. My mother-in-law is 90 and takes great pride in her appearance. My sister has taught me much about looking for quality fabrics and classic items and remembering to stay open to a bit of whimsy. I have a fellow fashionista friend at work who has taught me the joys of Poshmark, thredUp and other online selling/buying opportunities, making fashion more affordable.
Happily, great style is ageless and not limited to the young. It is inspiring to be surrounded by many public figures and actresses I would consider contemporaries looking so relevant and fabulous. I recently watched the movie, The Wife and thought Glenn Close looked elegant and beautiful. Her wardrobe was simple and never upstaged her. And Ellen of TV fame relies on slacks, jeans and jackets, but is always pulled together in a casual way. If you admire how someone dresses ask yourself, what is it that seems to be working for that person and is it something you might want to incorporate into your wardrobe.
So as Spring is about to arrive it’s fun to think of ways I can spark up my warm weather apparel. While I tend to avoid many prints, it may be fun to incorporate a lovely spring floral through a new scarf or two. Your wardrobe is an ongoing adventure, one that can be fun or a chore. In our society you are required to cover yourself with fabric so why not have a bit of fun if it’s only a crazy pink tee shirt or those amazing sandals you saw in an ad.
Please check out Wednesday’s post when I’ll be sharing a little hint of spring.
C’est la vie.