I take great pride in how I dress; just about anyone who knows me will tell you this. I agonize over outfits and am rarely happier than when an outfit comes together just the way I envisioned it. I would like to say that my style is equal parts cute, vintage-lovely, elegant, and feel-good. Today, however, I questioned my choices as I rushed out the door, late as we were for getting on our way to church. I felt a little odd, almost frumpy, though I know I probably looked anything but that.
My choice this morning was a dress that I bought at least a year ago but had never worn before today. A lovely, lacy, little fit-and-flare dress by Xhilaration in a bright cream and then covered that with a cream and gold striped waterfall cardigan by Mossimo, one of my new favorite comfort pieces to just wear all the time. Beneath those, I pulled on a pair of black ribbed tights (I still call them stockings) and, though I wished I had brown ones to keep with the color palette, I found that that black made the cream of my dress and the cappuccino of my shoes really pop. Yes, I have these lovely, coffee-and-cream colored, Fioni leather booties that are probably my favorite shoes ever. In my hair was a faux pheasant-feather fascinator headband, another one of my favorite accessories.
As I finally came home four and a half hours later and spied myself in the mirror, I decided that, even if I wasn’t happy with the outfit as a whole, I was extremely happy with how fan-frickin’-tastic my legs looked in those tights and heels.
Over the past few weeks, I have noticed a surge in a particular type of article and it makes me unhappy. Now, don’t get me wrong, I used to enjoy watching “The Fashion Police”, just like anyone else, mostly because I got to see pretty outfits and dresses and not really because of the hosts/”experts”. However, I have now found myself so very tired of articles that wags fingers and opine, “Don’t wear if you’re over (insert number here) age”. This piece or type of clothing or that shoe or this item for your hair. More than once, I have asked myself if I should just grow up and “dress my age”. And then I slap myself and come to my senses.
Oh, please! Fashion changes, CONSTANTLY! What makes you or anyone an expert on what I or anyone else should wear? Where’s the personal preference or taste? We may disagree with what people choose to wear but, ultimately, we do not have a say in anything but our own I am a grown woman, I will be 32 years old in two months, and I am fully capable of making my own decisions. If I like it, watch me rock it (see below)!
This article, though, has some excellent advice, which I think is quite apropos and awesome: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michelle-combs/what-not-to-wear-after-ag_b_6656902.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063 ^_^ *climbs down from soapbox*
Examples of My Personal Fashion in Recent Years:
Author’s Note: My latest article published on The Well Written Woman – http://thewellwrittenwoman.com/skirt-length-hems-and-haws/#.VMZVSP7F_L8
In the almost thirty-two years of my life, I have worn pretty much every length of skirt there is, for differing reasons: religious, personal, style/fashion, artistic, cosplay, performance, etc. As I looked at the picture featured in (and that inspired) this article, I couldn’t help but go back over the skirts that I have owned that go with each hem-length marker on the model’s leg.
And it’s true, isn’t it?
Our modesty is still judged.
We are still judged – not by the living proof of our actions but by the hems of our skirts.
I have worn pretty much every length of skirt there is, and it is evidence of the evolution of my sense of fashion and self.
Up until I was about 22 years old, I didn’t wear jeans on a regular basis at all. Previous to that, if I wore them, I did so in the privacy of my dorm room or my apartment, or if I needed to for a skit or a play or an activity that warranted it. As an undergrad in college, I remember when I wore jeans for an activity on a retreat with Student Christian Fellowship. We were outside, playing a game that required a lot of running back and forth, so I dashed inside to put on the jeans that I brought with me, just in case. As I returned and took my place in the circle, one of my friends squealed, “Mel! You have legs!”
I laughed in reply, “Why, yes. Two whole ones, in fact.” And we all had a good-natured laugh about it and it has lingered on as a joke in our years as friends.
Needless to say, I’m more comfortable with myself and what I wear now, and I am far less worried about disapproving looks or tsks whispered under breath. I already know that the wardrobe I choose now (both inside and outside of the house) would not be what most of those with whom I grew up would choose for me. Even members of my own family commented in surprise when they saw me in a photo in a tank top and jeans for the first time. The comment was that I was “starting to look like the rest of [them]” in that I was “showing skins [sic] these days.” It feels almost as though I didn’t have a body before that, at least not one that anyone felt worth commenting on.
A few days ago, as I browsed a book store for flash cards for my daughter, I found myself standing next to a young woman. She wore a black-and-white-striped fit-and-flare dress that fell just above her knees, a black mod leather jacket, knee-high high-heeled boots to match, and a lovely little black beret with an embellished decoration over her dark hair. All I could do was look at her in all her monochromatic perfection, smile, and think, “Beautiful!”
She looked smart and classy and, by the books in her arm, she was about to set off on a new adventure. I wondered if she was going to meet someone for a date, a movie, a meal, or if she just desired to feel lovely on that cold, wintery day. I wanted to arrest her attention and tell her how beautiful I thought she looked, but being in a bookstore is almost as sacred as being in worship service to me, so I try not to distract others in their quiet perusing. But, if you ever read this, ma’am, I found you gorgeous!
Nowadays, my preference of personal style runs to an above-the-knee skirt. Why, you ask? Because I like my legs and consider them rather pretty, being long for my 5’1 frame. Put them in a pair of stockings/tights and ankle-high boots, or just a pair of cunning heels, all underneath a shorter skirt or dress, and the effect is quite striking. So I think and so I have been told. However, this far from precludes longer skirts within my wardrobe. If I may use the titles utilized in the photo’s markers for a short while, I’ll explain.
I wear shorter skirts when I am feeling “flirty” or “cheeky”; they show off my legs when I cross them off the side as I sit in the coffee shop or café. Knee-length skirts are for work (I used to teach middle school language arts), where the style of dress is more “proper”. When I am feeling “cunning” or “alluring” (in place of “prudish” and “matronly”), it’s a longer, more flowing skirt length, probably a handkerchief, asymmetrical, or high-low hem. When I feel “vintage” (instead of “old-fashioned”), it is a just-below-the-knee length or longer hem, either A-line or flared skirt. When I feel “bohemian” or “idyllic”, you might find me in a pretty floral or patchwork skirt, ruffle-fluffy so it will spread out around me when I sit on the grass or on the steps/side of a fountain. I have worn pretty much every length of skirt there is throughout my life and my style and personality define the length I wear, not the other way around.
Have I ever worn skirts that were too short? Yes. Have I worn skirts that turned out to be too long? Yes. They may have worked for my style at one time or with the right shoes, but then not felt right another time. It happens. We grow out of some styles and into others.
I have worn pretty much every length of skirt there is, and only a handful of times have I felt shame for doing so, though the emotion was not of my own making or out of a personal sense of fault. I have had people comment on my “having changed so much” since they first met me. And my question is: why?
Why have I changed? Because I wear a shorter skirt or dare a lower neckline now and again than I did when I was seventeen? Do my clothes mean that my heart is different? My faith? My personality? My integrity? Does the evolution of my dress mean that my body and my soul are now fair game for your judgment? Though I take the comments and consider them in the light of my own life and intentions, it sometimes honestly makes me question just how well the commenter “knew” me in the first place.
Here’s news for you: yes, I have changed. I have grown and I have stretched. I have had pain and joy and triumphs and failures. I have had drastic changes and beautiful new chapters in life. So, yes, I have changed, because, God help me, I couldn’t have survived staying the same as I was half a lifetime ago.
I have worn pretty much every skirt length there is but that has nothing to do with who I am. So, please, do not measure me (or any woman) by the length of my skirt hem but by the breadth of my mind, the height of my integrity, and depth of my heart. Those are the true measures of me.
I have dreams of dresses, of pinafores, bustles, shifts, shirtwaists, kirtles, and overskirts. I muse of miles of sumptuous fabrics, satin cool as milk against my skin. I visualize gowns of delicate brocades and silken underclothes, the shimmery gossamer of my chemise drawn through the gaps of my sleeves like the intimation of butterfly wings beneath my skin. I fantasize of heavy damask frocks and furred sleeves trailing along my hips, thread-of-gold embroidery crowning the front of my corseted bodice, holding me in tight and blossoming. I have daydreams of panniers and petticoats and lace, flowered hats perched at impossible angles, and curls brushing my shoulders. I imagine silken snoods and delicate French hoods to cover my hair. I seek to imitate the fit-and-flare femininity or the sultry hourglass silhouettes of the Fifties. These dresses and gowns and the beauty inherent in each style of habiliment, are elevated to an absolute divine elegance in my imagination, in these dreams.
I would find myself happily-placed to be a dress-up doll for those whose skilled hands create these textile works of art. I have no such talent and so admire and exult in the artistic, wearable beauties that those who do create. I am here and willing, dear artists. Dress me!
The inspiration is running low as I have been laid out with a sinus infection over the past few days. But I did have a thought, that tied into another thought, and, if I’m lucky, those thoughts might just birth a blog post that makes sense.
My sense of memory is very strongly tied into my sense of smell. Certain smells remind me of certain people, places, and experiences. I also use smell in my creative process to develop characters, be they for stories or for roleplaying games, or what have you. It is most readily evident in my live action roleplay characters, as I tend to wear specific scents for specific characters. And the scary part is I remember them.
Aislinn Davis – Warm Vanilla Sugar & Cotton Blossom (Bath and Body Works)
Dovasary Windemere – Sensual Amber (Bath and Body Works)
Esther Julian – Bright Crystal (Versace)
Delilah Croft – Secret Wonderland (Bath and Body Works)
Betsy Martin – Black Amethyst (Bath and Body Works)
I still have all of these scents in my collection here at home and, whenever I smell them, I am reminded of the stories woven by and around these characters and the stories still yet to be told. It makes me smile.
Now, I have a rule when it comes to scent and it goes for both men and women: They should never smell you coming but, once you pass, they should not be able to forget you. The point of the scent is to draw someone in, not repel them like a force field. Draw them, illicit a smile, seduce them, implant yourself in their memory. That is the point.
I have a love/hate relationship with my sense memory. I remember the first time I activated it. It was a boy, my mom’s boss’s son. I had a huge crush on him and only saw him during the summer. He wore Tommy Hilfiger. I didn’t know it at the time but, while my mother and I were perusing the perfume store, I picked up the cologne and smelled it and all I knew in that moment was him. His voice, his laugh, his playful hug, the cookies he brought every morning. I eschewed the pansy little scent stick, and asked my mom for a Kleenex, which I covered with the scent. When I took it home, I kept it in a plastic bag to preserve it, along with the one letter that he sent me. Yes, I was a bit of a sap at fourteen years old.
Flash forward almost ten years to the first summer that my husband and I spent apart when we were dating, I took his college sweatshirt home with me. When my mom found it, she said it needed to be washed. I grabbed it from her and told her no, that was the point. I slept with that thing every night for the three months. I could smell both of us mingled on it by the end of the summer and it gave me a great deal of comfort. When people pass me and smell like friends or family members, I often turn, expecting to see them somewhere around me, even though I consciously know they aren’t there. But the memories are and those remind me that I am never really alone.
Stolen from OpusElenae. Every November, she does something called NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month. It came about as a spin-off of National Novel Writing Month, which also takes place in November. The goal is to write a blog post a day, all month. I have decided to follow my wifey-friend’s suit and try to post every day in November.
So, for today, here is this probably-not-so-surprising declaration.
I love dresses. Absolutely love dresses.
I love feminine fashion and being girly. I am a huge fan of feminine fashion, loving the fit-and-flare, 50s and 60s style dresses, sweaters, skirts, and open-toed shoes that resurfaced this past spring and summer. I bellydance, love to clean and cook when I’m in the mood (and, yes, I have done so in heels and pearls before). I also wear jeans, shovel snow, deal with all the technology in our house, and shoot archery. Yes, I still consider myself feminine. I expect my 4-and-a-half-month-old daughter to one day run around in a tutu and rain galoshes, to put on camo and go hunting with her grandfather, and to love the pretty dresses that her grandmothers buy for her.
But, as for me, I would fill my closet with dresses if I could. Dresses that flatter, satin that feels like cool milk against my skin, lace that froths in the light, chiffon that flows and clings in all the right places and ripples like water when I walk. I love it all. It makes me feel beautiful and graceful and it’s one of the few things that I do for myself that makes me feel so. So no matter how old I get. You’ll never get me to give up my dresses.