Hitting the Style Sweet Spot

Do you ever have one of those days when you just sort of dress from instinct, don’t put a lot of thought into it, but when you look in the mirror, you realize what you’re wearing feels so totally like you? Today was one of those days for me, and tells me that 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.

Women our age are constantly warned against falling into a style rut. We’re told that we need to keep updating our closets and our look. Makeover shows hawk transformation: the “after” woman not only looks more stylish, but also has more confidence and assertiveness. But I often wonder, when the look they’re given is so drastically different than where they started (especially if it requires more maintenance) how many actually sustain these changes over time? Sure, we need to push the style envelope at times, but do we need to totally discard those tried-and-true elements that feel like second skin? And how much of a style “rut” is actually a rut, and how much is a clearly defined, consistent style?

Or can we use those dressing-from-the-inside-out days 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 I feel a major closet purge coming on…)

One of the things that comes up frequently about French women’s style, even more than their talent for clever tying of scarves, is that it’s so integrated with who they are. They don’t radically change their style from year to year or even decade to decade, they don’t have closetsful of this year’s trend, and they aren’t afraid to wear a favorite item repeatedly. They seem to be comfortable with this kind of instinctive dressing; it’s not that they don’t put in some effort, it’s that they don’t put in too much.

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3 Comments

  1. November 7, 2007 / 9:04 am

    I think this post dips its toes into the idea that it’s truly an art form, that style is something that comes out when you’re in the zone that musicians and athletes talk about. The ability to focus without conscious effort….

    My mom is always trying to make her days easier by planning ahead. On Sundays, she picks out her clothes for the week, and *irons* them. When she suggested I do this, as a time saving measure, I said I actually enjoy opening the closet in the mornings, even hectic ones, and letting the outfit sort of come to me. (Besides, I don’t iron.) Today I saw a sweater I’d never worn and thought aha! And it was funny, because I’d been thinking of another blouse when I opened the door.

    My latest thing is trying to never wear the same thing twice, to always have a different combination on, even if it’s just in shoes and or jewelry. That way I’m putting a little creativity, a little newness in every day.

    I was at a wedding in my husband’s family last week, and the rabbi was talking about how in Jewish tradition the couple breaks the glass they’ve just drunk from, and how it symbolises the sadness in the world and the destroyed temple in Jerusalem. While I’m not qualified to debate with a rabbi, I see the broken glass as a symbol of the fleeting quality of perfection, of the instance of becoming a new family, one who’s never experienced heartbreak or loss or a screaming fight, one that’s right at that moment perfect; a state never to be experienced again.

  2. November 7, 2007 / 2:25 pm

    very wise post — much food for thought here

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