Hubby and I had a conversation about style a couple of nights ago. I tried to explain to him what “my style” is. And it was tricky. I mean, how do we know what “our style” is? And even when we think we know, how can we explain why one look is “our style” and another not?
So, like I said, the other evening in between a taped episode of Frasier (so good!) and the beginning of the hockey game, Hubby and I were talking about fashion. I know, amazing, right? I was telling him about the fashion show I’d been to that day, with my friends Susan and Eunice. We’d eaten a table d’hôte luncheon at Flippers restaurant in downtown Ottawa, and watched models wearing outfits from the nearby clothing shop, Escape, thread their way through the tables, chatting to women like us about what they were wearing. The food was good, the conversation fun, and the clothes were lovely. But as I said to Hubby, most of the outfits were “not my style.”
“Why not?” he asked. That’s where the conversation got tricky. Why exactly were they “not my style?”
Let me just say first that I really like the store Escape. My friend Susan shops there. I attended their fashion show last year with Susan and won a $50.00 gift certificate. As a result I bought a casual linen dress that I love. A few weeks later, I took my sister Carolyn shopping there, and a couple of weeks ago my friend Eunice. Both of them did really well, and went home delighted with several pairs of cropped pants, jeans, and tops, and in Eunice’s case a great cardigan and a jacket. I like shopping at Escape. Leslie, the owner, is friendly, and really helpful, and makes shopping fun. That’s why Hubby’s question was… well… tricky.
“I thought you liked that store,” Hubby said. “I do. It’s just that I probably wouldn’t wear a lot of the stuff they sell.” “Why not?” he asked. “We-el, some of their clothes are too flowy. Too ‘woman-y’.”
“Woman-y?” he raised his eyebrows.
I tried again, “I like things to be more structured, a bit more edgy.” “So they weren’t stylish?” he said. “Of course they were. It’s just that I prefer outfits that are not so… ah… lady-like.” “So they were old lady clothes?” “NO!” I was getting exasperated. Him again, “But, you think the clothes in the show were too old for you?” “Of course not. I mean, at almost sixty-three, I could hardly claim that, could I?” “So their clothes are not right for you, but good for Carolyn, and Eunice?” he persisted. “Well, yes…” I faltered.
“Okay. Let’s try this again,” I said. “Remember the other day when I was at Escape with Eunice? Well, I admired an outfit that they had on display: cropped black and cream patterned cotton pants, with a longish black silky top, and over that a cream light-wool poncho/shrug, and a long pendant necklace. It was chic, on trend, and I liked the way the pieces were layered, especially since the poncho was shorter than the silky top. But I wasn’t interested in trying it on. I could appreciate each piece on its own, I liked the way they worked together, but that outfit just wasn’t me. It wasn’t ‘my style.’ If I wore that I’d feel as if I were wearing someone else’s clothes.”
I sighed. I’d probably lost him at cropped pants, I thought. That was way too much detail. But it didn’t matter. The puck had dropped, and I’d lost him anyway.
You see, here is the crux of what I was trying to say. That somehow I just know “my style.” And, while I could see that many of the outfits at the fashion show that day would look lovely on my friends, they didn’t suit me. Partly that’s because we have different body types. But only partly. See that look below on the left? I took that shot because I thought the outfit might be great for my sister. She is tall like me. And this look is dressy enough, but still comfortable enough for her to wear to a conference or to a work meeting, with her flats instead of heels. For me, it’s a bit too lady-like.
And it’s not an age thing. See the lady below in the pink sweater? I thought she looked marvellous. The pink sweater looks lovely with her silver hair, and that crisp white shirt, and narrow black pants you can’t see. I love that she’s pulled her hair back into a low ponytail, and worn her bright lipstick. Her outfit is smart but simple, more “my style”. She was even wearing a small black leather belt bag… very on trend. By the way, that’s Leslie behind her, in the cream scarf. The models had just come out for the last time, her partner had thanked everyone for coming, and we were applauding. Then they had the draw for the door-prizes. I didn’t win this year. C’est la vie.
So how do we know what “our style” is? As I said above, for me it’s partly about how clothes suit my body type. And my lifestyle. Both have changed over the years. I am less about suits and skirts, and good blazers with dress pants. If I do wear a skirt or a suit it’s not with pumps, but instead with flat sandals or sneakers. I can’t do snug, tucked-in tops anymore. And short skirts make me feel too top heavy… because… well… the top IS quite a bit heavier these days. Ha.
The other part of “my style” is about who I am, and how I see myself. And that hasn’t changed much in the decades since I’ve been picking my own outfits. I’ve always loved turtlenecks, and jeans, and blazers, and boots. Despite changing fashion, that has remained the same. I’ve never liked “girly” looks, or anything too feminine. I feel silly in ruffles. Or anything low cut. I hate looks that are, as one friend said, “too much muchness.” I embraced minimalism like crazy in the nineties. And conversely I’m not big on the mixing prints thing. I prefer simple, sometimes even mannish styles. I guess I should say “menswear inspired.” I’m more Katherine Hepburn than Marilyn Monroe… although that sentence just made me laugh out loud, since I’m clearly neither. Ha.
As you can see in two of the shots above, I’ve recently purchased a couple of new things. A yellow gingham scarf. And yellow Theory linen pants. Ha. Yellow pants! Yep. Not usually “my style.” But I love them both. And I’m currently trying to see how they get on with the other pieces in my closet. How to wear them so I still look and feel like me. I’ll get back to you on that.
So, yeah, I’m pretty clear in my own mind what “my style” is. Even though it’s morphed since I retired. But describing it to Hubby. Well, that’s a whole other thing.
P.S. You can find Escape clothing store at 703 Bank Street, in Ottawa.
How about you my fashionable friends? How would you describe “your style”?