A Fashionable Lecture For Inquiring Minds…..

Days 57 & 58: Items Purchased: 0, Temptation Radar: 6, went to Nordstrom Saturday. Spring  has Sprung! Diane Von Furstenberg sheath dress with whimsy wings & tassel belt. Good Grief.

“Like most of the Designers I know, they can hone in on the trim-detail of a vintage dress and simply disregard the rest. Let’s just say it’s a positive and less judgemental way to look at the world.” -Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist

Scott’s right about that. Incidentally, his photojournalist fashion blog has become my favorite, and if I may boldly suggest, the most brilliant one around. Authoring a book of the same title, Scott talks about the visual & idealistic approach to capturing and conveying authentic style in his photographs, which have earned him world-wide praise.

The aforementioned quote, independent of fashion context, really inspired me to think about looking at people in the same way. Perhaps, rather than fixating on “bugs” about other people or ideas, how would my outlook change if I chose one detail of their fabric that I admire and celebrate it? “Focus on the elements that could inspire you”, he’d say about each of his pictures. What if we really adopted this mentality when approaching interpersonal relationships with others? What if we began to evaluate ourselves in this way? Instead of focusing on our own weakness or the things we don’t like about ourselves, and continuing to make provision for those, what if we played on & embraced our strengths? What if we began to serve others through the arena of our strengths? What if we allowed our personal style, from the inside out, to display itself unapologetically? Does it mean that we have to have it all figured out? Nope. In fact, in identity crisis may be the catalyst to uncovering the hidden treasure of one’s true personal style. The more honest we are in the view of ourselves & interactions with others, the better the chance for stylistic evolution ; with greater and more convincing authenticity it begins to deliver an unforgettable portrait in the montage of life.

In the book, Mr. Schuman discussed the idea of “Visual Greed”, which I find remarkable. He says “Being visually greedy, allows you to separate the personality from the look and puts the pressure on you to figure out how to harness that stimulus instead of just grading others as a pass or fail.” An example of this being, if someone works at Nanette Lepore, they may be required to wear the clothing, i.e. “dress the part”, so can we really identify true personal style? Perhaps not? So, we have to get greedy, forcing ourselves to separate personality from a look. Many people in the medical profession could relate to this, by virtue of the fact that it’s simply a scrub world. We should resist allowing the idea of  “Dressing the part” squelch the essence of our personal style.

You may be wondering, why in the world is she on this random rant? In interpreting and defining fashion, I think I’ve made a mistake. A big one. I’d like to clarify it. In the world of shopping and fashion, experts, whoever they are, make a lot of rules. The do’s and don’ts. The should and shouldn’t s. Boasts of what’s “in & out” have choked some of the life out of innovation and intimated many folks from even recognizing their potential to be “fashionable.”  I can’t tell you how many people I talk to that say….“I’m not fashionable or stylish” or “Shopping overwhelms me because I don’t know what to buy? I don’t know how to dress?” I have been totally guilty of blindly following perceived fashion dictates “just because”, without questioning, testing or challenging.

Guess what? The definition of fashionable, by my estimation is “embracing and expressing with confidence your personal interpretation of fashion.” What if more people really felt the freedom to honestly answer the questions “What do you like? What inspires you?” and then illustrated those answers through their clothing? What if one felt bold enough to wear what they wanted regardless of current fashion trend, without a social implication or a red mark through a picture of their fave skirt in a fashion magazine? I say, everyone possesses the essence of fashion. Everyone has flair. Everyone.  It’s just a matter of finding it and expressing it.

Tonight, I thanked Scott for the pep talk. His book is beautifully written and mostly illustrated (lots & lots of pics). Check out his blog too. http://www.thesartorialist.blogspot.com It’s fabulous. Cheers to fashion-forward heroines everywhere!

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