Monday, July 29, 2013
Guest Post: Laura on The Truth About Style
Hello, readers! I don't know if you have missed me as much as I have missed you, but I'm back from Ertel wedding #2 of the summer, and ready to blog! I didn't want to go cold turkey for another whole week like last time, but my best laid plans were thwarted by away from home internet issues. Such is life.
Be that as it may (correct use of that expression? I don't know.), I will catch you up with a Weekend Diaries post in the next couple of days, and treat you to a guest post from my friend Laura today. If you don't read Laura's humorous and intelligent musings over at This Felicitous Life, well, you are missing out! Here is one of my fave posts. Now, without further ado - Laura!
Watching The Learning Channel’s “What Not To Wear” is a little luxury I look forward to whenever I stay in a hotel, as I don’t have cable at home. The show offers me hope that style can be logical and learnable, not a just secret code known only to a few. The show promises that, with a little guidance, confidence, and a wrap dress, even the shabbiest caterpillar can transform into a butterfly. Sadly, the series enters its last season this year, but the legacy lives on with co-host Stacy London’s new book, The Truth About Style.
The book is a worthwhile read for anyone interested in developing their personal style and especially for those who, like me, ponder why one’s personal style matters . . . and whether it should. Ms. London profiles nine women of different ages, sizes, and walks of life, each of whom is caught in a self-acknowledged style rut. Ms. London addresses not only what these ladies should wear. She also delves into the why behind the disconnect between their true selves and the images they project. This approach is interesting but, to be honest, the makeovers themselves offer little that can’t be found in the dozens of similar personal style guides out there. (In fact, I prefer Dress Your Best, a book that Ms. London and her WNTW co-host, Clinton Kelly co-authored in 2005, for nuts and bolts dressing well for your body type.)
The opening chapters of The Truth About Style, however, give it an edge over other style makeover books. Ms. London majored in philosophy as an undergraduate, and it shows. What is style? How is it different than fashion? Why does it matter? Should it matter? Ms. London addresses all of these issues.
In the opening chapter she posits, “[T]he uncomfortable truth is that appearances do matter. Refusing to acknowledge that how you dress sends a message to other people is a major blind spot.” Achieving this, Ms. London advises, requires “an unbiased, dispassionate acceptance of who you are, where your body is right now . . . and what your life circumstances are.” She continues, “You must accept the good, the bad, and the ugly, without prejudice . . . just pure dispassionate observation.” Style “is about enhancing who you are, and not attempting to look like someone you’ll never be.” “Our clothes,” she says, “give other people insight into who we are. To take control of the message, you have to know yourself, and dress accordingly.”
This concept of style and self-acceptance really resonates with me. Reaching my thirties has given me a degree of self-knowledge--of being comfortable in my own skin-- that I never had before. I like some aspects of myself (both physical and spiritual); others I still want to change. But I finally get who I am. Understanding oneself is one thing, however; dressing like oneself does not come automatically. Old habits die hard. Overcoming them takes some work. But it’s work worth doing. As Ms. London acknowledges, style is “not as important as a friend you can trust, or your family, or doing what you love.” Nonetheless, “style is a large part of what we see in the mirror and how we feel about ourselves. . . . . Everyone deserves to dress well and fell damn good about it.”
Sing it, sister! Count me in!