When it comes to personal style, there are two types of women: those who early on suss out their own unique style and hang onto it with minor tweaks throughout their lives, and the rest of us. Or at least sometimes it seems that way.
Since my late teens, I’ve had an image in my head of how I wanted to dress and present myself, an image with which neither my body nor my budget were ever in alignment. So I settled for what was available, what was appropriate. Sometimes I came closer to that vision within the physical and monetary constraints. Like art or obscenity, I couldn’t define it, but knew it when I saw it.
First, let me say I’ve been a style book junkie for many years. Because my own vision felt so out of reach, I’ve floundered and flailed about trying to find something coherent that fit my body and my life. But “Eccentric Glamour, Creating An Insanely More Fabulous You” is a different (and a bit refreshing ) dip into the genre. Written with humor and tongue firmly inserted in cheek, the book combines anecdotes, interviews and style advice to yield an affirming and age-positive brew. Rather than focus on hiding flaws or looking younger or dressing appropriately for the venuedu jour, Doonan encourages women to trust their own instincts, to embrace their wackier impulses, and to give freer rein to one’s Fashion Id.
*Doonan groups Glamourous Eccentrics into three primary categories (each with subsets): The Gypsy, The Socialite and The Existentialist. While the framework is helpful, I can see how taking the categories too literally would feel just as confining as any other style rules. It did help me identify some of the common themes that run through the styles I gravitate to, mostly in the Existentialist and Gypsy categories. (While I admire women who can pull off the classy Socialite look, trying to emulate that style myself makes me feel as though I’m a little girl playing dress up.)
Duchesse at Passage des Perles says “Doonan breaks a heel stomping on Ho attire, a crime against the aesthetic environment. But any woman who can read his indictment without moving her lips will know exactly how dressing like a pole dancer is likely to be read, and choose accordingly.” While this may be true, I suspect Doonan’s perspective is that of someone who spends a lot of time between NY and LA, where the landscape is generously dotted with Club Girls who take their style cues from Paris Hilton and no matter what the time of day look as if they’re headed to Les Deux, women a few years older trying to prove they can still keep up with the Club Girls, and the Trophy Wives who are hanging on by a thread. (Hey, I work with some women in their 30’s who feel that belly shirts and thong-baring sweatpants are appropriate office attire.) The rest of Duchesse’s post is spot-on, go read it now. I’ll wait.
For those of us who check out The Sartorialist and other style blogs daily, “Eccentric Glamour” will be an amusing read confirming what we mostly already have grasped, rather than a revelation. The interviews are fun, but skip the dysfunctional “weight loss” chapter. Doonan’s smackdown of our fascination with les Françaises (his take on that pouty French allure: they’re grouchy because they’re perpetually hungry) and snarky dissection of Coco Chanel -isms provide a bit of good-natured schadenfreude. I really wish there had been more photos of his subjects and examples.
Edited to add: materfamilias is giving away a copy of this book. Go here to enter!
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