Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Fashion and Style

I recently went to the Yves Saint Laurent retrospective at the Denver Art Museum. Interesting exhibit - I learned a lot about fashion (do you know that St. Laurent was the first designer to send a pants suit down the runway and this was considered scandalous?), and it made me think more about this topic in general.  It's always been fascinating to me - I love to look at all sorts of fashion, whether it's in a magazine, on the street, or on the red carpet.  But, it dawned on me when thinking about this exhibit that I don't ever really try to incorporate fashion into my own life, other than as a spectator.  It's intimidating and frightening to me. I would never, for example, wear the beautiful gown in the photo above, even assuming that I had somewhere to wear it. The pink would be too bright for me and the bow way too big.  Yet it's a stunning and classic gown when you see it in person.

I am actually scared of prints and bright colors (except in small doses).  I wear the same solid, boring things all of the time - light colored solid top (often white) and dark bottom.  Or, if I really feel wild, dark colored solid top (often black) and light bottom. Why is this so?  I'm not really sure.  There was a time in my life when I was young (teens and twenties) when I would wear bright colors.  I'm thinking of a particular a-line dress that had color blocks (so trendy now) of chartreuse and hot pink.  (So wishing that I had a photo of myself in this dress that I adored at that time.)

But as I get older, I just want to fade into the background, not call attention to how I look.   This phenomenon of becoming invisible as we age was discussed in an article I read recently.  The article is about aging stylishly, and it made me realize that being fashionable (which I know I can never be) and being stylish are two totally different things.  I admire women who have their own style - you know  they'll look great in whatever they show up wearing.

Then I read about a new book called Advanced Style that shows photos of older and very stylish women. The author and photographer of the book also has a blog where he features these aging fashionistas.  It's clear in looking at these women that it takes a lot of time and effort to really show up with style.  Maybe that's why I have no style - it's just too darn much work.

Another current exhibit at the Denver Art Museum - Read My Pins : The Madeleine Albright Collection - gave me an idea.  Maybe style is possible while dressing blandly if you have a reoccurring theme in your dressing, like Albright's ever-present pins.  The pins were fascinating as they tell a story of her life.  They're more than just a fashion accessory to her as she uses them to express how she's feeling on a particular day or to send a message to those she's seeing.

So no lessons to be learned here.  I simply want to think more about our superficial appearances and what that says about our insides, if anything.  Does what we wear make us more or less interesting people or just more or less interesting to look at?  

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