It was a record-breaking four degrees Fahrenheit when I left for work on Tuesday. How do you dress appropriately and dodge hypothermia at the same time?
Sometimes, you don’t. I wore enough layers for my quarter-mile walk to the subway, and covered everything with a brown down-filled coat. The office was chilly; I suppose it’s impossible to keep a building toasty in that weather. Thank goodness for my cute old, chunky long white sweater!
So what is style? It’s partially dressing appropriately for the occasion, in this case, really cold weather. It’s having enough self-respect to wear the clothes that work best for you and fit you well. It’s the confidence to wear what you find attractive and comfortable. Like a cozy cardigan!
I grew up with two style icons: my grandmother and godmother. Grandma made most of her own clothes and often wore skirt suits. The first time I saw her in pants was when we visited her and Grandpa when they briefly lived in Puerto Rico. She wore her capris to tend her garden but I don’t think those pants ever left her property. While in PR she studied for her Certificate in Alta Costura, certified to do what she had been doing for decades: designing and creating the patterns for what she made. In fact, she taught me how to sew by imagining and then making Barbie clothes! She also taught me how to mend, which to this day extends the life of some of my favorite pieces.
Aunt Terry made even velour sweats look good. She was always the best-dressed person in the room, wherever that room was. I think it was like a hobby: some people tinker with cars, some knit, my aunt made every event a little more classy. Being beautiful helped, I’m sure.
But that begs the question: don’t we perceive someone as stylish or pretty because they present themselves that way? Style is not the same as fashion, as I read in this Psychology Today article: http://www.psychologytoday.com/articles/200808/the-style-imperative Fashion changes. Style comes from within. Both can be fun.
Style is self-expression: Are you feeling fancy or buttoned-up today? Style is regional: Here in New York we wear a lot of black but Florida is a lot more colorful. Style takes work, keeping up with laundry and repairs. Style is entertaining: I like seeing what works for other people, even if I couldn’t possibly copy what they do. Style is situational: I can’t wear a bathing suit to many places, but I get a lot of mileage out of my favorite skinny-jeans-in-boots look. And lately, I’m getting a lot out of that warm brown coat.