Mind – Body Conundrums

Clothing to fit my Fantasy Life™

I’m sure the French don’t have a word for it, this thing that’s been consuming me lately.  I’ve been feeling anything but bien dans ma peau, as if my mind and body are having irreconcilable differences.  My fantasy life and real life are duking it out, at least when it comes to style.

It all started with the Talbot’s fall lookbook.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are some very covetable pieces in there and I love some of the looks and how they’ve styled everything, but when I first viewed it, the primary and overwhelming thought that it generated was “I’ll need to lose weight to look good in those clothes.”  As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve lived with the constant background noise of “want to be thinner” (regardless of my actual weight) for most of my life, and at times am able to tune it out. The last few weeks have not been one of those times. As I’ve aged and my body has softened a bit more, I’ve come to realize that the more structured, boxy pieces that I love so much conceptually really don’t look good on me anymore (if they ever did).  What do look good are softer, longer pieces with some flow and drape, that skim my curves and don’t add volume.  Tailored pants suits, which used to be my staple, now feel mannish and otherwise too formal for my workplace.  I’m just not feeling the blazer jackets either these days, even worn with jeans.  What I’ve been gravitating toward, and what’s looking and feeling best these days is a more “long over lean” silhouette.

But moving to softer pieces seems to fire up the Greek chorus in my head, “you’re Giving UP!”  On the other hand, is it really giving up to dress to flatter the body we have *now* as long as we’re choosing items that appeal to us and that fit our budget and lifestyle? Am I feeling pressure to measure up to someone else’s style standards?  If I could give up the fear of negative judgement, what would I want to wear?  If I can put together a wardrobe of softer, Paris-worthy pieces, why do I still pine for those styles that no longer work for me short of never eating another carb and doing Pilates for three hours a day? 

What about you?  Do you sometimes have trouble reconciling how your head wants to dress vs. what’s best on your body?  Or have you made peace?

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53 Comments

  1. August 6, 2010 / 2:52 am

    Leslie – yes, that’s what I’ve been feeling whenever I try to wear a more tailored blazer. Stiff. Stuffy. Your sweater sounds fabulous. It’s great to find those kinds of pieces, isn’t it? I hear what you’re saying about taking the bits and pieces that work for us without going whole hog on a trend or style. That seems to be what French women do, n’est-ce pas?

    Doc P – good questions, all. I think I still have some negative associations from a time when “letting oneself go” was almost a crime against humanity. I definitely am not giving up on healthy habits, but rather am giving up on the idea of being an angular size 4.

    Sal – sometimes I think those voices of conformity planted in my head when I was young can still be strong sometimes. I’m working up some thoughts on that for a follow up post. And it’s true about the rail thin models…sometimes clothes (like the jacket I posted today) look better with some curves to fill them out! But I know to stay away from the boxy jackets regardless.

    Melissa – that’s a really interesting and powerful insight! Wow!

    tinyjunco – those are great suggestions, and thanks for the support. I agree it’s important to work at developing (and continually refining) one’s own personal style.

  2. August 6, 2010 / 6:06 pm

    What a wonderful discussion! All of it is so true–from the frustrations of finding clothing, to questioning our design sense in a young world, to the frustrations of our changing bodies.

    That said, my main frustration is the menopausal belly–can’t come to terms with it. I am lucky I still have a waist, tho, so I can wear the “tailored” pieces–and need to, in order to sculpt the soft stuff.

    I have been mixing the soft and the structured for a while now and its great. I get the best of both worlds–structure yet comfort. One just has to make sure the the soft is good quality–otherwise, its something for someone younger.

  3. etoilee8
    August 18, 2010 / 3:51 am

    I’ve made peace I just now how too much and some of it I refuse to give away. I notice when I go to France I change my style of dress completely. I dress comfortable, in more layers. All my wide leg pants come creeping out of the wood work and I think “I should dress this way, all the time” and then I go back to the US and it’s all back to normal. Standing in front of the wardrobe absolutely puzzled.

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