Thanks so much to the reader who steered me to the New York Times Magazine article: Sign of the Times/Slaves No More by Cathy Horyn. It ends thus:
…a woman of indeterminate age who knows what she likes and has shrugged off what she no longer has any use for, and maybe never did. If that sound rather limited, that’s the point. I’ll stick with the same paint colors and my lovely old kilt, because, it turns out, there’s a surprising amount of harmony in unremarkable choices.”
(emphasis is mine)
Timeless. Elegant. Classic. Simple. Unique. Beautiful. Maybe not the words by which I live, but definitely words that inform and illuminate my style choices.
Timeless, classic, simple, sometimes elegant: words that describe my typical wardrobe choices perfectly – thanks for helping us understand that it's ok NOT to cave and wear only what's stylish and/or trendy each new year – sometimes those choices just don't 'fit' me physically OR emotionally. Your philosophy keeps me motivated. . . thanks!
Thank you, Janice, for motivating and inspiring us to dress for US, in clothes that fit our bodies, our lifestyles, who we truly are, regardless of trend, expectations, or "shoulds."
… And this is why we read your blog.
hostess of the humble bungalow says
Choosing clothing that suits our lifestyle, our budget and our figures is so much more important than following the trends. I ike the French Femmes minimalist approach to dressing and updating the basics with scarves and accessories….like you do here at the Vivienne Files!
I experimented with wearing my two favorite winter skirts and my three favorite and most flattering pairs of winter slacks for the months of January and February. I put into this rotation a couple of turtleneck sweaters and a couple of cardigans– and five blouses. Everything was neutral (mostly gray or camel or ivory) and everything mixed and matched. I told myself that I could wear any shoes I wanted to (but found myself sticking mostly to my most comfortable pair of short boots and my two favorite pairs of loafers) and any scarf I wanted to (but wore the same three scarves, more or less). It has never been easier to get dressed for work and I've never felt more polished or confident or put together. I'm about to choose my top closet choices for March and April and do the same thing. Thanks to you, Janice, a promiscuous dresser and addicted shopper has had a radical conversion experience. I'll be away for nine months next year and now I won't be worried at all about packing what I need in what I can carry and check on an airplane. Many, many boxes of donations to GoodWill later, what an amazing sense of freedom I feel about no longer being chattel to the clothing in my closet!
Very inspiring Gail. Thank you for sharing your personal experiences. That makes it very real and relatable!
the happy forgiver says
Yes, timeless, classic and elegant! But in order to avoid the "frumpy dowager" look, one must add in a few modern details, perhaps a pair of ankle boots, a skinny pant, a rustic leather belt. It's important to love, appreciate and wear the classics but always with one eye on what is happening now. To me, that is what creates elegance.
I am in my 50s and have a daughter in her mid 20s. She grew up with every pop star baring her midriff, everyone emulating Madonna I suppose, and wearing flannel pjs everywhere including school. At work, she is wearing colored stretch skinny jeans and mixed media sweaters in the boxy sweatshirt shape. In her off hours, she lives in yoga pants and a tee whether she going to work out or not.
I grew up wearing Talbots and Liz Claiborne in petite sizes which was quite a bit deal in the 80s. Now everything is low rise, even dress pants, and although I am trim, my stomach is not flat enough to carry off that look anymore and you can't wear spanx under them. The boho look doesn't work well for me and yoga pants are not flattering. I have settled on mid-rise jeans that fit well in a variety of leg styles, and a cropped jacket over over a longer top, which is needed to cover the top of the midrise jeans, with a great scarf or costume jewelry. I have one pair of brown suede wedge booties which look great but the heel is 3" and I can't wear them for long periods of time. I do have some colorful ballet flats and that looks seems to work for me when I do leave the house.
Glad you found the Levis! Was about to suggest Talbot's "Heritage" cut in a petite (even though the brand in general is depressing now.) I wait for an online sale and buy the ankle and straight leg Heritage jeans in quantity. They also come in some good colors.
I meant to write "big deal" and not "bit deal". I happen to go into the Levis shop in a new outlet mall near me and discovered that they had high rise skinny jeans that fit me pretty well so I can wear a shorter top and still cover everything.
Thinking about paring down an already small wardrobe, could you create a wardrobe based entirely on dresses that would suit most every occasion? What would the minimum number of dresses be?
In my 20s, after a couple of years as a volunteer in Africa, I returned to the U.S. with nothing. I had one cotton dress, made for me in Africa, plus two that my mother-in-law got me out of pity. I rotated them for about a year before I could afford anything else. It was OK, actually.
I still have the cotton dress made in Africa 30 years ago.
I still wear it, too.
I am so happy you liked the article! Also, you and your readers might enjoy noting just how many fashion shows this season — and last — featured flat shoes. Low heels and no heels are coming into their own, undoubtedly part of the "comfort is classy" trend that Cathy Horyn writes about.
I dress much more casually now then I used to. Today, I posted on my blog about how I tend to dress like Charlie Chaplin, and suddenly decided to make more of an effort and put on a wrap dress and tights, which is what I felt comfortable wearing every day 10 years ago. Well, it didn't feel right today. Too ladylike, I don't know. I guess I've changed, and comfort has become a very important component of my style in the past few (maybe 3?) years.
Janice, I too loved Horyn's piece, and for me the standout sentences were,
"By now, I suspect, most people know that the purpose of runway shows is entertainment, and to create a feeling of desire. They understand that the main interest of high-fashion companies is economic rather than aesthetic."
There is a small-p political stance here, which to me is even more meaningful than knowing what you like to wear: what happens when we refuse to be a mindless consumer, told we never have enough or look right. Those messages contribute to making women passive, insecure, and broke.
Janice, again you have encapsulated beautifully what you have been teaching me. I am intrigued by the idea of a small but elegant capsule wardrobe which fits for me! Like many women I once had all the neutral base colours in my wardrobe which meant I also needed multiple accent colours which kept me always shopping for the missing piece. When you mentioned a couple of months ago that you were planning a mainly gray based wardrobe for yourself I suddenly realized that was my ideal as gray/grey suits me better than black. Also I find if difficult to acquire navy items in some seasons. The core wardrobe you show today highlights a simple grey dress. Are you willing to share your full grey co-ordinated wardrobe with the links to where they are from? My warmest regards and thanks for all you do for your many readers. Lyn
Just thank you. And keep writing!
Wow, even though I had already read and enjoyed reading that article, somehow with that isolated quote and your reaction, I had an epiphany of my own about my style. I have felt in the past that my style is 'boring', and I am trying to embrace the fact that featuring soft colors and simple lines IS a valid style. If you don't mind my sharing Janice, I wrote a few words about it here http://carriespeaks.blogspot.com/2014/02/dont-be-afraid.html ( it's a very baby blog, apologies)
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