Monday, July 22, 2013

Comfort & Clothes

Everyone has style.
Whether it's good or bad, is a question of preference.
Whether it's known and understood, is a question of time.

Time has shown that my style can be stated in two words: authentic comfort.

Taken from Carrie McCarthy & Danielle La Porte's book, 'Style Statement: Live By Your Own Design'... "Your Style Statement is a compass for creating a life that reflects what's true to you in every way. From your wisdom to your wardrobe, from your longings to your living room, your Style Statement is where your essence meets your expression."

And at this intersection of 'essence & expression' for me, lies comfort.

It was Billy Crystal's character Fernando who said, "It is better to look good than to feel good", whereas I prefer to FEEL good, go bare-faced with the exception of lipstick, wear clothes that shout Casual, Comfort, and Cotton with capital 'C's' and to pray for good looks.

I don't wear... frocks with frills, dresses or skirts, belts or buckles, patterns or prints, stuff stiff or scratchy, or anything tailored or tight like these...

Instead my garments are soft, loose, unstructured, solid in color, and totally inappropriate for any occasion other than lounging.

But who lounges at a wedding? Make that two weddings.

The invitations arrived by mail just days apart... one requiring cocktail attire, the other garden party apparel, neither of which gave an option to 'come as you are' or wear any old thing that you've got.

Richard Abell aptly said, "Anxiety is the space between the 'now' and the 'then'".

So do I 'now' RSVP with the words 'joyfully accepts' and 'then' remain anxious and frustrated until the day of the weddings as I shop for clothes that don't fit, don't flatter or feel right, or do I 'regretfully decline' and get on with my life in the land of comfort and bliss?

Have you ever noticed how the sun rises and sets and darkness prevails, until you're inside a mall clueless to the time or day? Accidents happen, people die, babies are born, new planets are discovered, and there you are in a time warp standing in a fitting room while your husband holds your purse and searches the department for another pair of pants either a size bigger or smaller than the ones you have on. That is of course if you hate to shop like me and are lucky enough to have a saint of a husband like mine.

Fortunately, I also have fabulous friends with good advice and great intentions who feel my pain in this arduous search for something to wear. 

Lisa offered to take me shopping. Denise shopped without me and found a simple dress with a hint of lace she thought I'd like then captured and forwarded it on her ipad.

Carol, a fashionista in her own right, suggested: basic black for a cocktail dress made dressy with a colorful scarf or jewelry, fashions by Eileen Fisher for lines simple and classic, and 'Zara', the Spanish brand, for something inexpensive but stylish.

Bev offered to lend me a fancy scarf from her huge collection, photographing and emailing the ones she thought I'd like. Later she sent me a link to of a dressy jacket she purchased for herself and was willing to drive miles to model it so I could see and feel the material to know if it was right for me.

Then there's Joe who brightened by mood by wanting to meet for lunch and afterwards be my seeing-eye dog through urban storescapes alive with possibilities of colors, textures, fabrics, styles, for all tastes. Then added, "When the goings get tough, the tough go shopping!"

And if I was no longer up to the challenge of shopping, he offered me his 'top of the line Italian suit' saying he thought,  "A woman in a man's suit is quite fetching."

I suppose I'm to blame for this situation of marathon shopping when I could have been casually building a classic collection over time rather than a few short weeks. But just one look at myself in a full-length three-way mirror sets me back years. And all the effort spent building on strengths and appreciating my talents is gone in an instant... along with my sanity and everything I've said about being authentic and the need for comfort.

Ralph Pucci Mannequins

Besides... "Dressy' doesn't come in cotton.

Polyester prints and patterns with ruffles and sequins have touched my skin and while I minded terribly at first, I'm now way beyond caring. I've shopped 'til I've dropped and I'm ready to surrender.

To add insult to injury, these words by Mark Twain... "Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society" have worked their way into my head.

I say, "Men and women make the clothes. Sometime the clothes are good and sometimes they're gaudy." And for the bit about naked people and their lack of influence on society, I'm baffled, but certain that if I showed up nude to either wedding, it would have a great affect on the 'party' particularly the bride, the groom, and their parents.

Ralph Pucci Mannequins

It's a scary thought... one that definitely has me reconsidering the white t-shirt I've been waving and the need to do battle another day.

So it's on to the boutiques, but with a back up plan in place.

It's kind of a secret... sort of a 'Victoria Secret'.

Only it started in Target... when I spotted and purchased some dressy-looking, silk-like pants, black, flowing and made of cotton modal.

I found them in... shhh!... please don't tell... the lingerie department of all places after an exhaustive first day of shopping.

In a pinch, with a black t-shirt, a dressy scarf or bold colorful necklace, and some spiffy shoes, this pieced together outfit could 'fit the bill'.

And get this... the pants are LOUNGING PAJAMAS!

Who lounges at a wedding?

Perhaps... "I Do"

Do you have a style that could be described in two words?

Comfort or confinement? How do you feel about clothes shopping?

Do you have a special story or memory that goes with a particular item of clothing?

Here are a few links you might find interesting:

Photographer Ted Sabarese's 'Hunger Pains' here, the making of 'Hunger Pains' here, 'Office Wear' here, and his blog here.

For a different kind of album, 'Wedding Attack' photos here.

The 'Rainbow Brite' and 'Asymmetrical Silhouette' are quite interesting. 'Ugly Wedding' dresses shown here.

'Love, Loss and What I Wore', a lovely little book excerpted here and a brief interview with the author Ilene Beckerman here.

For those first anniversaries (paper)...  'pencil' me in.

XOX... Dyan


  1. Getting "dressed up" is definitely a certain style, choice, and look which one cultivates over years. Having gone to Parochial school for 12 years, it was mandated that boys wear a jacket and tie every day. For many of my friends, this was a demand which was a chore, while for others it was an opportunity.
    How you feel about being "dressed up" as contrasted to "dressing down" doesn't necessarily mean stuffy versus comfortable.
    Many designers seem to have a relaxed style to their dressy clothing while others have an almost "uptight" presence.
    I've often felt that Ralph Lauren and the British School create dressy clothes, that when I try them on, I feel and look like a stuffed pidgeon. Whereas the dressy clothing of Giorgia Armani and Calvin Klein, tends to look relaxed and comfortable. Whether it be something cultural or aesthetic in their styles, I am not sure. I do know that it isn't just subjective, like whether I enjoy looking more relaxed and comfortable than looking formal
    and stuffy.
    I do hope that whatever you wear when you get "dressed up" for your wedding events that your choices and feelings, "match".

    1. In High School, we too had a dress code... thankfully, not as formal as your jacket and tie requirement, but still restrictive. The girls had to wear skirts or dresses (UGH!) while the boys of course wore pants, just not blue jeans. Many guys bucked the system choosing Levi's over Khakis or Corduroys and were then sent home.

      Me...I wore sweaters and skirts with knee high socks and Chukka boots... a sort of 'dressed down' comfortable mix of masculine and feminine.

      In college, I wore men's flannel shirts and ripped up jeans... not exactly a Vogue statement, but I've never been one to 'dress to impress'... an attitude about clothes I still have today.

      Same goes for the wedding attire... it was never about finding clothes to look like a fashion star, but more about finding something appropriate that wouldn't embarrass or offend anyone else. I think I was successful with this first wedding event. I'll let you know how things work out with wedding number two.

  2. Like you, I hate clothes shopping. Mostly because it's hard to find my size. I wear petite sizes and the selection in that department is terribly lacking. I also hate trying on the clothes, getting dressed and undressed over and over. I'm almost always by myself so if I need to go get something in a different size, color, or whatever, I have to get dressed just to go out of the dressing room into the store to find whatever it is I'm looking for only to find that they don't have it. Sometimes I am looking for a specific thing and can go in every store in the mall and not find it because it isn't currently "in style". My taste is clean, classic lines, mostly solid colors, close fitting(not tight) and nice attention to details. I forgot to add...inexpensive. When I see the price on some clothes I am shocked and think the price is ridiculous. Even if I like an article of clothing, I won't buy it if I think it is over priced. Once I do find something I like, I keep it almost forever. I have a winter wool jacket that used to be part of a Pantsuit (remember them?) that I got as a Christmas gift when I was in 10th grade! I still wear it! I also have clothes that I bought when I was in college and still wear (knit summer tops). Many of my clothes are older than my daughter who is 32! You see, that is the blessing of buying classical styles, they don't go out of style. I recently bought a dress from Banana Republic (a splurge for me) and discovered that I had in my closet a scarf that went PERFECTLY with it that I've had since college days.

    1. You crack me up! I thought I held on to clothing for years. 10th grade?! That's amazing! What's more amazing is that you can still get into that jacket. You are definitely fit. I should be so lucky, though I know it takes more than luck to be in great shape. Congrats to you!