Find me on INSTAGRAM

Browse my BOOKS


23 In Style

Personal style changes in changing times

I had double celebrity dreams this last week. In one dream I was at Lake Como, Italy giving George Clooney tips on how to wear his face mask properly. He wasn’t quite sure where it should be sitting on his nose. Glad I could help out. And in case you’re wondering, we were socially distanced.

A couple of nights later I was hanging out (in my dreams) with Miley Cyrus. That girl has a closet like you wouldn’t believe! It goes on forever. I opened all the closet doors and ran my hands across the sumptuous fabrics. I was inspired by all the layering possibilities she had with the wraps, scarves, and shawls in her wardrobe.

What happened next is that I went to my closet, while all my creative juices were flowing, and put together a multi-layered outfit in shades of pink, rose, and lavender. (We’re still in the dream.) I was so happy with the result. I felt exquisite and lovely.

Funny that the word lovely came up in my dream because, in real life, I’ve been exploring that word as a new addition to my style recipe.

Updating my style recipe

The last time I worked with my style words was sometime in 2018 or 2019. Here’s what I’ve been working with prior to teaching the virtual course, The Emerging You: How to Define and Refine Your Unique Style.

Everyone does their homework including me

When I started the course in May I told the class members that I’d be doing the same homework I’d be asking them to do.

Why? Because personal style is not static. We go through style changes in the natural course of living life. It’s important to update our recipe so we don’t go through life in outfits that aren’t expressing who we are.

As I taught Emerging You I was thinking about the emerging me. Who am I right now? What’s important? How do I want to feel in clothes? Is there something I want to express in this chapter of my life that I haven’t been expressing? What’s on the inside that I can demonstrate on the outside?

Listening to one’s heart

I asked class members to listen to the stirrings in their hearts and pay attention to what they resonated with. This style journey could reveal new, important information.

One exercise required thinking about what they were ready to move away from and what they might be moving toward, instead. Was there something I was ready to move away from?

There’s so much I love about this Casual Glam outfit in the picture above. Yes, Vivienne is in it. I caught that too. But I started to realize there was something about “casual glam” that felt outdated, maybe a little forced. I’m just exploring here, seeing where a tweak might make a difference. My style antennae were up.

Emerging personal style changes in lockdown

I got more clues about what could be tweaked about my emerging personal style when I saw the picture of what I wore to the opening cocktail reception of the five-week Emerging You class.

I looked at this photo Russ took of me in the backyard and the word lovely came to mind. That looks so lovely, I thought. The sheer blouse, the pretty necklace by Angela Clark. I didn’t feel glam or perky or spunky, I felt lovely.

I can imagine other people using this word in their style recipe, but it seemed a bit curious on me. When I think of women who look lovely I imagine ladies who lunch, sophisticated New York art patrons, women vacationing with their friend George Clooney in Lake Como.

But that word kept coming up. I did what I asked my students to do: I went to the thesaurus.

Taking the next step: getting out the thesaurus

Not sure how lovely would fit into my recipe, I went to the thesaurus. Here’s what I found.

When I read through this list, I can tell I’m on track. I’d have no objection to being seen as engaging, pleasant, pleasing, attractive, enjoyable.

To explore this from a different angle, I looked up the antonyms for lovely.

Well, that’s convincing! I certainly don’t want my style to be described using those words. However, I could take off the “un” part of the first four words in the second column and be satisfied with desirable, friendly, happy, pleasant, and a little further down, there’s that word again: lovely.

Even though the word lovely made me feel a bit uncomfortable, it didn’t scare me off my style trail.

Why I embrace discomfort when creating a personal style recipe

I always support a bit of discomfort when it comes to culling through possible style words. I remember doing a style interview with a new client and the word pretty came to my mind. I suggested it and she quickly rejected it. I probed a little deeper and discovered an early belief about herself that she couldn’t be pretty. It didn’t fit in with the image of her religious upbringing.

As our discussion brought more to light, she realized that at 60 she was ready to accept this quality that she’d denied herself growing up. It was a word that had been waiting in the wings for its moment and this was it.

There’s more to be revealed about my personal probe of “lovely” as a style word, and I’ll get to that in part two of this subject. A teaser: I’m convinced one of the factors to this style pivot comes from the effects of this time spent in lockdown.

Until we get into that subject more, I’ll give you a peek at some ways I’ve been playing with this personal style word in my Sonoma life, far from the worlds of George Clooney or Miley Cyrus (but thanks for showing up, you guys).

I’m taking a new look at prints

I bought this top online from Nordstrom by Kut from the Kloth. Everything is on sale so it was a safe way to explore a new print and style that might line up with the word lovely.

I like this palette and the fact that the top is sheer but not sheer enough to require wearing a camisole underneath it. It’s not a stripe, check, or plaid. It’s not rock’n’roll tough, nor is it tailored, two looks I’ve enjoyed wearing in my life. No, it’s kind of lovely.

Adding a few accessories

I didn’t overdo with accessories. I wore my white bag and white sneakers, a few thin bangles, a light-colored beaded dangly earring, and of course, my mask.

I felt pleasant, friendly, attractive, an updated version of me living in these hard-to-believe times.

Who knew that working with personal style would yield a look that makes me feel some calm, peace, and serenity in these situations I have no control over?

Checking in

I hope and pray that you and your family are safe.

For people not on the frontlines of this pandemic and out of immediate danger physically or financially, there have been reports of aha moments as a result of this forced lifestyle change. If this is true of you, can I ask you to share something that’s shifted as a result of the pandemic? Do you think this shift will be temporary or of a more permanent nature? Is there something you’re moving away from and something you can see yourself moving toward?

I’d love to hear from you!