Between now and mid-August, I’m giving myself a bit of a break on the blogging schedule. I’ll still be writing new posts a couple of times per week or as inspiration strikes, but I’ll also be re-posting some of my favorites from the past few years for your (I hope) enjoyment.
Lt. Uhura rocked that uniform like no one else. Cool earrings too!
Even as a child I was a fan of science fiction, and especially loved the TV show Star Trek. In that program, the one overriding guiding principle of Star Fleet and the Federation of Planets was known as the Prime Directive. (While this concept could be a bit fluid at times depending on plot points, it was consistently referred to throughout all of the various Star Trek franchises.)
So what does a policy of non-interference in alien civilizations have to do with style? Not much, except that it was the first and most important rule from which all others flowed. Many of us have our own Prime Directive when it comes to our conscious and unconscious style rules. Some examples of a Style PD might be:
To look thinner
To look younger
To look more sophisticated
To project a specific image at work
To look sexy
To look pretty
To look rich
To be on the cutting edge of fashion
To declare disdain for convention
To wear only timeless classics
To signal one’s allegiance to a philosophy, activity or social group (think Goth, Preppy, sports team jerseys, local norms, religious traditions)
To be comfortable
Nothing inherently wrong with any of these, and one’s Style PD might shift and change from time to time, or be a blend of any of the above. But adhering to a particular primary rule year in and year out without ever re-examining whether that objective is still what’s most important to us can close off some avenues of self-expression through style.
I’ve written before that I was a chubby child in a very weight-conscious family. “Thou shalt wear only what is Slimming,” was the Style PD I was handed as a catechism. That included no tucked shirts, nothing in bright colors, no pleated skirts, no horizontal stripes. And for decades I hewed uncritically to those rules, with “Slimming” as my clothing mantra. But in recent years, I’ve found that sometimes ignoring my Prime Directive allowed me to find and wear pieces that I loved and felt best expressed my inner self, even though they may not have been the most “slimming” choice. (My horizontal stripe marinières as an example, have become wardrobe favorites though they break that particular rule. And there are often ways to style certain pieces to make them more flattering. Inside Out Style is a wealth of information on how to make certain pieces or styles work best for different body types.)
It’s fine to have a Style PD, as long as it’s a conscious choice and a true expression of who we are today. I love finding garments that not only express my style but are flattering as well. But it shouldn’t feel like a prison sentence, or prohibit experimentation with new and different looks. Especially as we go through life’s passages, our identities and needs change. At some point we may decide that dressing primarily to try to look young or rich or classic just doesn’t express who we are anymore.
These days, my Style Prime Directive is to dress joyfully. The manifestation of that may change from day to day, but the elements of joyful dressing for me are Movement, Color (not necessarily *vivid* color), Harmony, and just a bit of Edge. Maybe I’m just kidding myself, but I think that the resultant look is more flattering when I feel *good* in what I’m wearing. Confidence, bien dans sa peau, call it what you will, it’s a powerful force.
Do you have a Style Prime Directive? Has it shifted over the years? Do you feel it’s still working for you?
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