|Pic borrowed from Penny Dreadful Vintage here.|
If I can’t dance, I don’t want to be part of your revolution. —Emma Goldman
Though according to scholars, this is a paraphrase of a part of one of her speeches rather than a direct quote, I’ve always adored the sentiment. What good is any endeavor if there is no fun, no joy in the outcome?
I approach style the same way. Expression of one’s own style should be enjoyable. It’s taken many of us years or even decades to break away from the rules we were handed by our parents (never mix patterns, patent leather is for dressy occasions only) only to find them replaced by a different set of rules set by our contemporaries. We can be dressed “right” per current fashion dictates, a friend whose style we admire, a celebrity stylist or the latest greatest style book, and yet feel as though we’re wearing someone else’s clothing. No joy in that.
When we dress joyfully, from the inside out, we’re anything but invisible. We carry ourselves differently, project confidence and presence.
Do the words “joyful dressing” bring to mind an image of sartorial exuberance, or even eccentricity? Duchesse posted last week about the NOWNESS: Advanced Style video, and many in comments agreed with her that the eccentric style of the women featured felt over-the-top, and less joyful than strained. Some disagreed, and applauded these women for their uniquely expressive styles and for refusing to recede into the background or accept invisibility. I find myself in the middle. These women seem themselves to be vibrant and edgy and artistic, and how they put themselves together reflects that, and yes, shouts it out to the world. While I may have been comfortable embracing that kind of in-your-face-ness in my twenties, to dress that way today would feel forced and uncomfortable. Vividly colored clothing, splashy high-contrast prints, or designs/combinations that border on (or cross over into) the theatrical, though I may love them on others, leave me feeling like a blinking neon sign.
Joyful dressing doesn’t necessarily mean vibrant dressing. Simplicity and restraint can be joyful expressions too. One woman’s “drab” is another’s “serene.” Think of a simple Japanese brush painting, or an evocative black-and-white photograph. The kinds of images we’re drawn to might often give clues as to what visual stylistic expressions might feel most organic to us. I’ve always been drawn to simple, clean designs, visual equivalents of a cleansing breath. My admiration of French women’s style probably comes from the same place. Clean and uncluttered styles in neutral colors also provide a great canvas to add a bit of fun, edginess and wit with accessories as the mood strikes. But just a touch, un petit peu, oui?
|Photo of les Parisiennes by Tish at A Femme d’un Certain Age|
I also believe that joyful style must be comfortable. Who wants to dance (even metaphorically) in a waistband that’s too tight, or shoes that hurt? And unselfconscious. If one is always checking to see whether the shirt is staying tucked or whether the bag clashes with the sweater, it’s lost. You must be able to put it on and then forget about it!
What elements of style are joyful for you? Do you find that your taste in art and visual design mirrors your sartorial style?
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.
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