This morning I got off the Metro and ended up following a woman through the station, up the escalator, and waited next to her at the intersection for the light to change. She was probably around 30 years of age, slender but toned. She was wearing a dark navy trench with the belt perfectly tied behind her to cinch the waist, had a tan buttery-soft leather handbag from a popular designer, a flippy printed chiffon dress that ended at the perfect length with the trench. Legs that looked tan from outdoor summer activities, not a spray or bed. Bouncy blonde hair that swung when she walked and tan suede flats that were the perfect shade and likely a commuter shoe that would be replaced by some heels that would be the perfect shade and height.
Yesterday I stood in line behind a woman. She had silver hair cut in a spiky, funky short ‘do, had creamy white skin and looked amazing with a fresh face and just a hint of lip stain. She wore multiple shades of gray – a gauzy open cardigan, double-layer tunic, cropped pants, and suede wedges. Humongous silver earrings that looked like car parts and a 4” wide engraved silver cuff on each wrist. She had perfect posture and even when studying the menu, had a slight serene smile on her face.
This weekend at a local café, I saw a woman who must live in my community, for it is not the first time I have seen her. She had short curly hair that looked almost like a cap. her hair was light brown, almost the same color as her tan skin. A true heart-shaped face, with round cheeks but a pointed chin. She had a very toned body, muscles visible through her long-sleeved gray boatneck tee and filling out her dark skinny jeans that ruched perfectly at her slim ankles. Dark red ballet flats, an L.L. Bean tote over her shoulder, no jewelry other than a very slim gold band on the first knuckle of her right ring finger. Perfect skin that either was makeup-free or done up to look so. She looked casual, chic, polished.
I will never be any of these women. These women who have such perfect personal styles for themselves, who catch my eye. These women who just seem so perfectly together, so confident in their look, so right.
It’s natural to see a woman perfectly pulled together and feel jealousy, or question your own personal style. It’s normal to be inspired by such a woman. But it’s also important to realize when you see personal style that is not appropriate for yourself. Admire, respect, but understand that while the look is perfect for that woman, it is not for you.
Fashion is a form of art. And like all other forms of art, no one expects you to like all of it all of the time. You can appreciate the talent, the beauty, the concept without having to actually like the piece. You can find Monet’s paintings beautiful without wanting to hang a print of his haystacks in your cubicle. You can appreciate the beauty of Michelangelo’s David without having a replica in your living room bookcase. You can see a woman on the street or a blog with fabulous personal style and admire it without having to adopt it. Having taste is knowing what is good, but also knowing what is appropriate.
I will never be a woman with bouncy blonde hair, who can wear a flippy chiffon skirt with suede flats. I am not a person who will ever look good in layers of gray linen and silk. And no matter how much weight I lose, I will never be able to wear matchstick jeans with ballet flats. That doesn’t mean I don’t have style, it just means I know myself, my limitations, and also what does work for me.
When you try to recreate a look you see on the street, in a magazine, or on a blog and hate the results, it’s not you, it’s the trend. The media may make you think that EVERYONE can carry off Trend X but they’re wrong. Those of us who maybe can’t carry it off aren’t less stylish, we’re just different. And maybe we can instead carry off Trend Y… or create our own trend.
You are amazing, and clothing should be used to show the world how amazing you are. Clothing is to enhance, not cause panic attacks, raging jealousy, or body hatred. If your clothes make you doubt yourself, they don’t deserve your time, your money, or the space in your closet. Don’t try to be another person, instead craft the true you. This isn’t going to happen overnight, this will be a slow process. Don’t expect to find a perfect wardrobe from one trip to the mall, or even through one season. Style takes time, a relationship with yourself takes time. Part of developing that relationship is seeing inspirational women, realizing what you like about their look, and realizing what you may be able to adapt for your personal style, and what you should just admire from afar. Enjoy the journey!