Karl and I moved to Historic Old Greenbelt in 1999. When we bought this house, I swore it would be temporary. While the price was right, I didn’t like the idea of moving back to where I grew up (only a couple miles from my childhood home). Three years max, and we’d get a bigger house in a “cooler” community. When we moved in, our house was just a place to change our clothes and rest our heads. I worked retail, Karl worked night shifts as a UPS engineer. We could go a week without seeing one another, so we surely didn’t see much of our town or its inhabitants.
However, each time I went to the farmers market, walked through a town festival, or headed to the town center to buy groceries or visit the dry cleaner I always seemed to see this same woman named Amethyst. She seemed to glow from within, and I felt drawn to her. She dressed to the beat of her own drum, and made it look completely commonplace to go shopping in flowing silk skirts and elf shoes. This was at a time when I was far less accepting and would happily snark on anyone who didn't fit the sartorial norm yet I was constantly impressed by Amethyst's clear personal style. She knew herself, loved herself, and expressed this through her clothing choices.
It is now 2012 and I am honored to call that woman in the flowing silk skirts my friend. By knowing Amethyst, I have become more comfortable and accepting of who I am right here and now, and she has helped me to see the beauty in this town, a town I now am proud to live in and raise my daughter. Amethyst's personal style is quite different from my own, but I am inspired by her to truly wear my heart on my sleeve and choose clothing more carefully and wear what accurately represents me and my personality.
I was at work late this week thinking Amethyst; what can I say about this woman, how can I explain why I consider her a True Fashionista, an inspiration to me not only in dress but in attitude? How can I represent her in the way she deserves? It is as though she knew and updated her Facebook status with this quote:
“The urge to transform one's appearance, to dance outdoors, to mock the powerful and embrace perfect strangers is not easy to suppress . . . The capacity for collective joy is encoded into us almost as deeply as the capacity for the erotic love of one human for another. We can live without it, as most of us do, but only at the risk of succumbing to the solitary nightmare of depression.
“Why not reclaim our distinctively human heritage as creatures who generate their own ecstatic pleasures out of music, color, feasting, and dance . . . There is no ‘point' to it — no religious overtones, ideological message, or money to be made — just the chance, which we need much more of on this crowded planet, to acknowledge the miracle of our simultaneous existence with some sort of celebration.”
– Barbara Ehrenreich in her book “Dancing in the Streets: A History of Collective Joy”
I must admit I was nervous asking Amethyst to be part of my True Fashionista series. I don’t even know if she knew I had a blog, and I worried she would find the whole thing weird or superficial. I should have known better – she loved the idea and was excited to be a part of it. Since she doesn’t have a blog, she agreed to have my husband take some pictures of her in one of her favorite places – Roosevelt Center in our happy community of Old Greenbelt.
As with all other True Fashionistas, I asked Amethyst the same five questions; here are her answers:
How would you describe your personal style?
I would probably describe it as funky bohemian.
Where did you get your passion for fashion?
I would say it stems from a desire for wearable self-expression. A individual may express oneself through a variety of mediums: music, painting, writing, poetry, photography, dance…..and dress! This is just as valid a medium as sketching a sunset or composing a sonata. It is art – a very personal and self-expressive art. Wearing clothes is something that we do anyway every single day, so why not take an extra moment and put together an outfit that has flair and tells the world who you are? It doesn't necessarily take a lot of money.
I find 90% of my clothes from thrift stores. Thrift store shopping encourages recycling, saves on the pocketbook, and there is an indescribable pleasure of finding something that you really like. It's as if the Universe has aligned and has laid before you the perfect ensemble that reflects and honors who you are. To me this is much more fulfilling than going to a shopping mall where the clothes are cookie-cutter and mass produced.
Where do you find sartorial inspiration?
I find sartorial inspiration from differing cultures around the world and through festivals and celebrations of all kind. Why wait for a special occasion to put on that shimmering hot pink kaftan that you picked up last month at the thrift store? Life is short – don't hold back on fabulous!
What is the difference between fashion and style?
Fashion tends to be dictated by others. Style is your own. Fashion is something that is followed. Style is innate. Fashion is merely clothes. Style is YOU.
“Fashion condemns us to many follies; the greatest is to make ourselves its slave.” ~Napoleon Bonaparte
“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.” ~Gore Vidal
Any advice for a woman who is starting to find her own personal style?
I would advise trusting yourself and delving into what you truly like and what reflects you as an individual. Fear not what others may think. It is an extremely liberating feeling to express yourself without thought as to how others may judge you. See yourself as a canvas and clothes as wearable art – the beauty of texture, the vibrancy of color and the fit of fabric combine to cradle your body and says to the world, “This is who I am!”.