Just Whose Style Is It Anyway? - une femme d'un certain âge

Just Whose Style Is It Anyway?

While we’re bobbing along adrift in the late August fashion doldrums (any summer clothes worth updating have been purchased at the ubiquitous sales, and fall clothes are still mostly still confined to pages of look  books) it seems as good a time as any to engage in some more sartorial navel-gazing.

In pondering why I’m still at times emotionally drawn to clothes or styles that a) aren’t a good mix with my proportions, b) don’t fit my current lifestyle, c) feel like wearing Someone Else’s Clothes, or d) all of the above, I’m realizing just how large a part attitudes and tastes learned from childhood still play in my own style melodrama. Aside from the obvious attraction to the kind of fitted, sophisticated styles that represented grown-up elegance and glamour in the eyes a young girl in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, attitudes about appropriateness and social class and proper deference to sartorial rules have formed a deeply buried foundation that I continue to excavate. 

I was an eager-to-please child with a mother who was firmly planted toward the Critical end of the parenting spectrum.  She herself was insecure and anxious, especially when it came to appearances and how she would be perceived.  Her own background, which was rural and poor, was light years away from the WASP-y, upper middle class family with Aspirations that she married into.  Wanting more than anything to fit in, she cared very much What People Will Think, and her fear of disapproval was so strong that sometimes she’d act out or alienate people, rejecting them first rather than risk the possibility that she might have failed to meet their standards.  Our list of sartorial “do’s” and “don’ts” (as well as rules for behavior) was long and complex, and from her I learned to cling to those pronouncements from some unknowable yet infalible authority like a life preserver.   Even as styles changed and edicts loosened over the years, I couldn’t shake the feeling that there was a Right Way and a Wrong Way to dress and look, and I struggled to decipher the runes of fashion.  I have an amazing capacity to second-guess myself, especially in the area of style where I’ve never felt on firm footing. I’m too easily swayed by others’ judgements and pronouncements, ever fearful of failing some sort of test. Ah, family legacies.  Or baggage.  You say “erster.”

I can see now that the allure of those tailored, classic styles that no longer feel right for me is in part still wanting to be a Good Girl who dresses to please the mother of my childhood, and by extension my father’s family, including grand-mere Lucille.  It’s about feeling connected to my family (for better or worse) and things I once thought to be true.  Now that I’ve pulled this artifact out into the light, it’s easier to let it go.  I can file these styles in the “admire on others” mental drawer, and move on. 

Were you raised with a lot of fashion and style rules?  Did they play into larger social rules?   Does dressing a certain way help you to feel connected to family or other people who were significant in your life? 
~

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39 Comments

  1. August 17, 2010 / 1:15 pm

    I was raised to be aware of appropriate clothes for different events…church, parties, sports, shopping…mother always had to approve what I wore before I left the house.
    She made a lot of my clothing and my sister and I often had matching outfits! They were made form leftover fabric from dresses that she would wear.
    Mom gardened a lot in pants, she would bathe and do her hair, dab on Shalimar, and put on a nice dress in time for our father to come home every evening!
    She was very big on keeping up appearances.

  2. August 17, 2010 / 1:42 pm

    My mother spent her girlhood and teenage years in lovely clothes, many of which she made herself. She raised two daughters in the 1970s when all fashion (unless you were uber rich) just went to hell. Her basic instructions after losing all fashion control amounted to: you only show your navel at the pool or the beach. My sister showed hers to spite my mother. She would never show it now.

    So that’s all that has stuck — no naked navels except when swimming.

  3. August 17, 2010 / 1:45 pm

    I think there were a lot of rules in those times, it was a societal thing, not just your mother. Part of the rebellion in the sixties was a reaction to that. But then, the pendulum swung too far in the other direction (think flip-flops at work, and people yawning in public without covering their mouths-ugh!), and now be swinging back a little. I hope we never go back to a fifties mentality, in dress or anything else. But, it would be nice if we get out of the “anything goes” mindset. Maybe I think that because I too am a victim of my mother’s fixation with “what will people think”?

  4. Cafelatte
    August 17, 2010 / 2:34 pm

    What a beautifully written post. I imagine it resonates deeply with most women who think on such things as appearance and its many meanings. I also imagine that there is a huge gulf dividing those raised in the 1950’s and early 60’s and those raised in the late 60’s and 70’s.

    I was one of the latter. Like who you callin’ housewife, I was raised in an era devoid of “rules” for dress. However, unlike Who, I was raised in the south by a mother who sewed and designed clothes. My mother struggled with the duality of knowing what looks good on human bodies and trying to look au current in a time when floaty hippie dresses and bell bottoms abounded. The old “rules” were gone, but nothing of substance replaced them to guide sartorial decisions.

    I presume this is why I now spend so much of my rare free time reading fashion and design blogs. I think the residual of “no rules” has left many Gen X women scratching our heads and trying to figure it all out. Thanks for helping, Pseu.

  5. August 17, 2010 / 3:44 pm

    Hmmm….I often dress for the life I’d like to have and I think it works!

    My mother’s preference is for pretty/sexy/attractive, and you’ll still never see me wrapped in a floor-dragging gray cardigan like one of the Olsen twins or androgynous or sporty.

  6. August 17, 2010 / 3:45 pm

    Oh dear … What they said !!
    I, too, am loving your blog and this is my first comment – it definitely strikes a chord!

    My mother was (is) well-educated but of lesser means (post-Depression poor) and I do think she saw her marriage as “up” and definitely has clung to certain rules over the years … especially when it comes to clothes and, dare I say it, weight and body image!

    While that is a story for another day, they definitely went together for her – as for me, well, I guess I am a work in progress !!

    Thanks for the great post:)
    Elizabeth

  7. laurieann
    August 17, 2010 / 4:50 pm

    I was raised in second hand clothing from the older daughter of my mother’s friend who married a wealthy man and from the first pick of the goods from the Hospital Assistance League annual rummage sale. These items were beautiful and I never would have had such lovely clothing otherwise. (Mom sewed me simple shifts, shorts and tops for Summer.)

    Both my mother and I had similar feelings about preferring our clothing to keep us covered so we never argued over showing skin. What I do remember is that though my Mother was raised Roman Catholic, her tastes I could only classify as Puritan. She liked simple styles to the point of severity, no jewels except a single, plain wedding band and no make-up except lipstick. I craved color, embellishment, jewelry, make-up, scent and worst of all-pierced ears. My Mother thought all of these things sent the message “loose woman.” Boy did we have some knock-down-drag-outs over style.

  8. August 17, 2010 / 7:31 pm

    Oh yes, lots of rules and I suspect out of class insecurity too – earrings and teased, sprayed hair at all times, pantyhose and pumps, white in the summer only, corduroy in fall even if you didn’t like it, heavy tailored things whenever possible. And heavy bras and slips at all times too so that nothing might “show.”

    I can’t dress like that at all now, it always felt like a very constricting costume.

  9. August 17, 2010 / 7:32 pm

    Oh Lord, and the hair – teased, sprayed and formal at all times. Mine is thin and wavy/frizzy. Best I can ever do is the windblown look, but Mom kept trying to get me to look “right” (curling iron, rollers, dryer, lots of spray). Eeeek.

  10. S.
    August 17, 2010 / 12:40 pm

    I love your blog but I’ve never responded to anything… This one hit a bit of a nerve for me (sorry for the novel of a response). My mother married “up” too. She always had decent enough taste, but her energy was never directed towards her appearance.

    Once we came along, it was directed towards my success and the success of my sister in an academic setting. She was one of the only women who got an advanced degree in chemistry a time when many other women were getting degrees in home ec. As a result, I am a completely neurotic perfectionist people pleaser when it comes to academics, and I feel a little lost when it comes to clothing and my appearance.

    Strangely, I fixate on not knowing what to do with my hair. I remember growing up and going to the episcopal church and looking at my friends mothers who were made up, manicured, wearing tailored clothes, with their hair *done.* I wanted my mom to look like that, and I wanted to look like that once I was an adult. Well, I’m an adult now, and I come to blogs like this one to be inspired by people who look like they understand what to do. So, long story short, even if you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing, you are sure faking it beautifully. 😉

  11. Sal
    August 17, 2010 / 1:41 pm

    No wonder those stylistic leanings are so deep-seated …

    My parents were extremely casual and let me do as I wished and wear what I wished … so long as we could afford it. And we couldn’t afford many of the things my peers were wearing, so my stylistic hang-ups all center on money and spending habits.

  12. August 17, 2010 / 9:33 pm

    This wonderful post sure seems to hit upon a generation gap in your readers. A middle-class child of the eighties, I wasn’t exposed to the stricter fashion rules of the generation before me. By junior high, it was more about labels and wearing the right jeans from the GAP than anything else. We couldn’t afford the name brand stuff (or maybe we could and my mother just wouldn’t spring for it), so my formative years were spent envious of the cool girls wearing $50 J Crew sweaters. Now that the cool girls are wearing $500 Louboutins, it’s still hard to keep up.

  13. Frugal Scholar
    August 17, 2010 / 3:37 pm

    I too grew up in a critical household–but not about appearance. I guess I was lucky. I love how clothing/styles have changed! I love how much more comfortable and flexible everything is.

  14. metscan
    August 17, 2010 / 3:39 pm

    Thank you for a very good post! I don´t remember my mother paying much attention to what I wore. She was very insecure of everything and had a friend of her´s ( who happened to be a professional ) help her with her wardrobe. She had an interior designer to place her furniture and everything. In her late years, she told me, that I spend too much money on everything. She herself lived frugally. But she was obsessed about traveling.

  15. Kalee
    August 17, 2010 / 3:56 pm

    I grew up the opposite. While we dressed nice for church my family was strictly a jeans and t-shirt or sweatshirt kind of family (this being the 80’s and 90’s at the time). I like luxurious clothing and my biggest treat was staying at my grandmama’s and wearing silky pjs, looking through her closets of formal dresses and playing with her jewelery and make-up. My maman does her make-up the same now as she did then (and I’ve disliked it most of my life). I’ve rebelled and am the one in wide trouser jeans and a ruffly blouse with red lips (which my maman finds too harsh against my pale skin….she has a darker complexion). It’s hard at times, I feel overdressed often when I’m back home visiting, but I’ve learned what suits both my body and my personality and I run with it. No use trying to fit a persona simply because others wish you were that.

  16. ~Tessa~Scoffs
    August 17, 2010 / 4:02 pm

    Great post and great comments. I grew up with my mother telling me what all the rules “used to be.” I was so jealous! Rules by which to navigate one’s sartorial sailboat? Sign me up! I would hear tales of boarding school uniforms and white gloves and hats in church. During my youth, my mother still wore her college wardrobe (tweed skirts, Villager blouses and cardigans) which then gave way to the polyester pantsuits of the 70’s. Once the 80’s hit and I started college, I raided her closet for those same tweeds and twinsets (yes! still in her closet!). Anyhoo, I love the old fashion “rules” (i.e., white shoes only between Easter and Labor Day) and follow them just for fun.

  17. August 18, 2010 / 12:20 am

    My mother wore a hat and heels everywhere, even to the A&P. She was always stylish, French twist, always lipstick. Yes, we had the rules, when to wear patent or white shoes, half slips were a must and gloves to church. Thankfully, the ’60’s hit and I wore jeans and then mini-skirts and and had lots of self expression. Mother would roll her eyes, and always gave us three sisters “the look”.
    Now, I long for the body for that pulled together, sophisticated look but go somewhere in between; lots of black with accent scarves and lots of cool jewelry. And, I have two daughters and make a huge effort to not comment. Interestingly, they have wonderful individual style. They tell me that they love that I always looked cool!!

  18. August 18, 2010 / 1:06 am

    I grew up in the 60s and 70s. My mother was quite old compared to the other girl’s mothers (she had me at 40) so I thought she was so uncool! We had many arguments over bikinis, pierced ears and short skirts. She never has worn pants (except for a brief couple of years in the 70s) and still, at 91, dresses in tweed skirts, blouses and cardigans. She is actually quite beautiful now – I never appreciated her when I was young. She is always dressed nicely because, as she says, you never know when someone may invite you to lunch.

    My mom had definite ideas about proper clothes and behavior. She thought coloring hair was awful. I was 40 before I had the nerve to put color into my hair. I was living 2,000 miles from my mom and I was still worried when I went to visit her that year. I just saw her a couple of months ago and she still made a comment – “what’s with all the blond hair?” – it’s been 10 years!

    Ah well, we all carry baggage.

  19. Tee
    August 18, 2010 / 2:54 am

    Great post and wonderful comments!

    My mother was in showbiz and knew how to look good. She had me later in life (36 was considered old-ish for a first baby in 1963) and was well-traveled and sophisticated.

    She was a big believer in ‘making the most of yourself’ and impressed upon me that I should make looking good a priority.

    ‘Never leave the house without lipstick’ was a golden rule and, if I left the house without makeup, I’d get THE LOOK (purse-lipped disapproval). Now I’m 47 years old and I still find it difficult to go outside without at least a touch of mascara.

    I’d also get THE LOOK if I wore
    a) something that didn’t show off my figure
    b) shoes insufficiently feminine
    c) long skirts and
    d) dangling earrings, which were ‘common’ apparently!?

    Well I loves me some dangling earrings, but otherwise I often feel that I still make clothing decisions based on those invisible edicts.

  20. August 18, 2010 / 3:59 am

    Such a thoughtful and interesting post, Pseu. I’d need a whole post or more to respond, and I hope I get to that someday — really an important step, I believe, in getting to one’s own style.

    So many wonderful comments here — thanks for hosting such a great conversation!

  21. Carolyn
    August 18, 2010 / 12:28 am

    I remember going away to college and having to purchase a coat. I was shocked when I realized I had no idea how to purchase something for myself. I had no sense of style as I never really had a choice as a child.
    Thanks for the article I really enjoyed reading.

  22. Tiffany
    August 18, 2010 / 1:46 am

    Another fascinating post. We didn’t have especially strict rules around dressing as children (although I always wore school uniforms, which I think influences one through life). My father was a very ‘natty’ dresser when younger (beautiful tailored shirts, etc) but gave up as his alcoholism took over his life. My mother’s interest in clothes was sporadic – her hippie/ethnic phase through the 70s was my least favourite! These things, as well as being a control-freak first-born, have probably made me a rather conservative dresser … Having said that, I occasionally get the urge to do something a little left-field, but then I feel like a fraud. It’s complicated, isn’t it?!

  23. GingerR
    August 18, 2010 / 10:29 am

    I grew up in a college town and my mother, who didn’t work, was active in her sorority. We got their mail over the summer and always read Glamour before sending it on to their homes. The dos and don’t page was one of her favorites.

    She was very particular about everything and always permed her hair at home because she wasn’t ever happy with how they did it at the salon. I escaped permanent waves, but offer up the same reasons for always coloring my hair myself…

  24. August 18, 2010 / 11:36 am

    Dear Pseu,

    No, I don’t think I ever had standards of dress insinuated upon me. My mother was tall, slim and chic. I used to love to see what she wore to parties. I can’t recall her ever chiding me about what I wore, but then again maybe I never posed any questions or problems. I think I need to think about this a little more.

    In the meantime, what’s more important to me in your post today is the exquisite style you brought to your writing.

    xo,Tish

  25. August 18, 2010 / 2:11 pm

    Tee, love your mention of dangling earrings. In my family they were considered racy, but then again, my grandfather loved showgirls, strippers and other “loose” women, so he wanted my (square, green) grandmother to wear them since they were racy/sexy. But no one else could wear them – that would have been shocking.

    I’ve never been into jewelry so I just avoided the whole pierced ears/earring thing altogether. Easier that way,

  26. August 18, 2010 / 3:42 pm

    Your interesting post and the related discussion have me happy my family’s…issues…did not run towards super-rigid stylistic rules. Always nice to dodge one bullet!

    Though my parents were trying to jump up a half- or possibly full class, our clothing-related rules were pretty broad, and ran towards not looking “slutty” or “trashy” — which was hardly my inclination!

    They focused more on achievement and familiarity with various cultural touchstones, and weren’t particularly clued into how clothing and appearance could serve as a marker of status.

    [They still aren’t particularly clued in, but as their income went up they certainly embraced the memo about status-oriented hobbies, cars, and vacation spots!]

    I think I was much more sensitive to the nuances of appearance, and while I didn’t really ASPIRE to fit in to certain groups via clothing I wanted the “textile ceiling” to be acknowledged vs dismissed by them, dammit! [Hmmmmmm, and now I play out this with other people in my life!]

    There were definitely (as others have mentioned) battles over buying the name-brand stuff. Which usually didn’t get bought, or was bought, often by me, at discount stores.

    I think my upbringing gave me two lasting clothing-related legacies:

    * guilt over wanting/buying things over say, $30

    * a (eventual!) preference for a relatively small, highly flexible closet with lots of things I love or find useful vs an abundance of less expensive items [hi Mom!]

  27. August 18, 2010 / 8:26 pm

    Luckily my mother married down! She also had a natural ease with clothes and luckily we could have fun, dress up and get dirty from climbing trees. Mind you to this day I never know why she let me go out in my bridesmaid shoes and play football. I suppose it was because their purpose had been achieved so it didn’t matter what I did.

    She was more concerned with my matted hair. But she was quite strict on excessive heels and make up, in a nice way.

    The good thing about having a stylish mum was the seasonal clothes shopping and learning how to do your nails at eleven. I think having no real rules or too much frowning over my experimentation has given me a freedom with clothes. Rules are an anathema to me. Times have changed and dress codes aren’t as prevalent although sometimes I wish they were.

  28. August 19, 2010 / 2:12 am

    s. – I’m glad you felt moved to comment. It’s interesting, isn’t it, how social insecurities play out. Different families latch onto different things. Thanks so much for the vote of confidence!

    hostess – I think that to a certain degree “keeping up appearances” is a healthy expression. We were of a generation where there still were “appropriate” clothes for different venues. I’ll bet you and your sister were cute in your matching outfits!

    Sal – it seems that people born after 1965 or so didn’t have the baggage about all of the rules we did, but I guess that brands took over as what kids were concerned with. I don’t remember having ANY awareness of brands or labels at all until I was well into my 20’s.

    Who you callin’ housewife – that’s not a bad rule to live by, actually…
    😉

    Rita – I agree that general adherence to rules was more pervasive, but I think to my mother they were almost a religion. I also like the sense of *some* parameters or guidelines. I’ve noticed that some of my younger co-workers have begun to dress a bit more appropriately for the office, so maybe they do too.

    Cafelatte – Thank you so much. I’ve always wondered if younger women who grew up without these strictures felt freer to find their own style, or just felt lost. Maybe a bit of both?

    Frugal Scholar – I’m with you on the comfort. And I’ve been slowly coming around to the casualness and flexibility of modern clothing.

  29. August 19, 2010 / 2:32 am

    metscan – my mother did have a good eye for design, I’ll give her that. Her taste wasn’t my taste (especially when it came to interior design) but most of the time she knew quality and didn’t buy junk.

    Wendy B – I’d certainly agree it works for you! You’ve given me an idea for a series of Polyvores….

    Elizabeth – thank you, and I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Oh yes, my mother had the weight hang ups too, which was definitely related to ideas about social class. Thanks for commenting!

    Kalee – you sound like you’ve really defined your own style and are comfortable with it. I applaud that!

    Tessa~Scoffs – LOL! I can definitely see the allure of the rules; it helps one order one’s wardrobe and life. I don’t mind *some* guidelines; I just want them to be a bit flexible.

    laurieann – oh, I can relate to the plain vs. embellished arguments! There was a certain stigma about being too “flashy”. To my mother, nail polish, too much jewelry, tight clothing, and yes, pierced ears were all Loose Woman markers.

    Artful Lawyer – yes, I remember similar versions of all of those! Eeek, indeed. My mother kept my sister’s and my hair in super short cuts until we were old enough to take care of it ourselves, and even then she’d nag about it looking “stringy.” Neatness was next to godliness.

  30. August 19, 2010 / 3:10 am

    SarahN – I think you’re right that labels replaced the rules when it came to “right” and “wrong” clothing. (I can’t keep up with the cool girls in those $500 Loubies either…)

    donnieb – well, I can’t argue with black and scarves and jewelry.
    😉 I’ll bet you’ve been a great style inspiration for your daughters!

    Carolyn – glad you enjoyed! Was it frightening to have to make your own style choices, or did you find it liberating?

    Patty – I love this, you never know when someone may invite you to lunch! What a lovely way to view the world and dress for it.

    Tiffany – it *is* complicated! My mother had what we call her “gypsy” period in the early 70’s…long full skirts, silver jewelry, bare feet. Not full on hippy, but dabbling.

    Tee – Thank you. We do have some great comments here. I think the edicts are only a problem when they hold us back from expressing our own style. If those guidelines feel right to you, nothing wrong with following them. It sounds as though you’ve found your own path with the earrings.

  31. August 19, 2010 / 3:26 am

    materfamilias – thank you! I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences on this one at some point. I know your mother is a very stylish woman; I’ve seen the photographic evidence!

    GingerR – it sounds like your mother paid attention to current styles. Wow, perming one’s own hair…that’s ambitious!

    Tish – you are too kind. I can tell some of your mother’s chic has rubbed off on you…your taste and style are formidable!

    Vix – in some ways I wish my parents had been more oriented toward culture…had to discover that mainly on my own. You seem to have done quite well for yourself in developing your own style, one that’s refined and unique.

    Make Do Style – I love that you were allowed to wear your bridesmaid shoes to play in! Why not? It sounds as though you had a good balance of introduction to style with a healthy heaping of freedom to experiment.

  32. August 19, 2010 / 11:09 pm

    Very interesting, Pseu, and I fully appreciate the need to reflect (and sometimes find) the inner you that must speak to others through outer appearance (or at least not conflict with it…) That was the essence of my recent post and I thank you for your comment. My mother married “sideways” – literally so as my parents were first cousins.

    There weren’t so much rules as beliefs. Being brought up in the east end of London, my mother fought all her life to be middle class. Class structure was so important in England in those days. She had definite opinions about pierced ears (“common”) and crushed velvet (vulgar). One of my much older sisters was horrified a couple of years ago when I wore a crushed velvet riding jacket. I could tell where this came from.

    I don’t have any rules other than thinking white shoes (not sandals) look cheap except for underneath pants. 🙂 Great post. Love ya! R. x

  33. Jill Ann
    August 20, 2010 / 1:33 am

    Just found your blog and like it very much…I’m 53 and suffering from a weight issue I never had until I had babies (youngest now 15, so not much of an excuse.) What I want to wear and what I can wear are totally NOT the same thing.

    Growing up, I remember lots of rules, but not imposed so much by my mother. We were thrifty middle class, but my mom was one of the more stylish moms, on a budget though. She was quite a looker as a young woman, and I’ve seen pictures of her in her mink jacket (bought with her own money, and I could have killed her when I found she’d given it to the Goodwill several years ago.) Part of the reason she liked having a job was for the outfits. She told me that when she could no longer hide her first pregnancy, she was fired from her job at a bank. She stayed at home with my brother and then, two years later, with me. She told me once that she used to go to her closet, look at her work dresses and skirts, and cry. When I was about three or four, she went back to work part time, which infuriated my dad, but she didn’t care…she wanted to wear her nice outfits and earn her own money again. (Dad got over it.)

    I now find myself in a similar position. I’ve been “retired” from corporate life for about six years, but still have my beautiful suits and shoes in my closet. Not only do they mostly not fit, but I would have no where to wear them if they did fit. I take care of my teenagers and my mom, who now lives with me. We are both pretty bored being at home and having no reason to wear nice clothes!

    And I just got the new Talbots catalog today…..(sigh)

  34. August 20, 2010 / 2:01 am

    Rosina – Your post today really inspired me and gave me a needed “shot in the arm” to really listen to my own style voice. Thank you for that! Interesting about your mom and sister. I don’t think “class” is as dead a concept here in the US as some would like to believe. Our family’s rules about dressing and behavior were very much about presenting an image appropriate for those “of a certain class.” Pierced ears were definitely not OK, but we didn’t have any rules about crushed velvet, at least not that I was aware of. Velvet was for dressy, winter occasions only though. 😉

    Jill Ann – I went through the same thing after I had my son. I’d gained a lot of weight with the pregnancy, and it took me years to lose (most of) it, and I was never able to fit into my previous corporate wardrobe. (I did return to work a few weeks after my son was born and finding workwear at my larger size was quite a challenge!) But in the years since, for most of us business wear has become much more casual with more room for individual style, so I don’t miss my suits so much anymore. I have a thought…do you have a Dress For Success nearby? They take donated business wear and provide free interview suits and “getting started” work wardrobes for lower income women who are entering or re-entering the workforce. Maybe you could donate those suits, and not only get those reminders out of your closet, but do a good turn for other women? Then you can start to rebuild your wardrobe to fit your body and life now? Just because you’re at home doesn’t mean you can’t dress with some style and flair, even if in a more casual way. Even Talbot’s has some pieces that are more casual, but there’s also J.Jill, Eileen Fisher, Coldwater Creek…even Parisian women have embraced jeans and more casual looks.

  35. August 20, 2010 / 2:52 am

    Great post – this is a great discovery about why you want to dress in a way that is not authentic to who you are today.

  36. August 20, 2010 / 9:37 am

    Hello,

    Like Wendy B I dress for the life I want and it has actually worked out!!

    As a child of the 70s and 80s I didn’t really have rules but I always wanted to look good.

    The reader’s comments on this post are the most interesting I have read in ages- you’ve struck a chord.

    Keep up the Good Work x

  37. August 20, 2010 / 2:57 pm

    I think this post is fascinating, as are the responses, and I’ve put off responding so long because my thoughts keep going on and on and on and may have to be addressed in my own blog posts.

    Suffice it to say I’ve been struggling with variations on this issue, and I too grew up with many “rules” about dress and what one should wear, and what I was expected to wear for the life I was expected to have. The trick is translating this expectation, which is still part of my makeup, to the actuality in a way that acknowledges these complex feelings about clothes and dress with the needs of my actual life and figure.

  38. Marion
    August 24, 2010 / 3:01 am

    Such a wonderful post. Interestingly, as I’m in my mid 30s and mom’s in her mid 60s we are both discovering our own style.

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