Monday, June 2, 2014
Trending Now: My Old Dress ...
In hearing range (in this case, field of vision) of any smart, thoughtful women who give sensible consideration to what they wear and how they wear it, the mention of the word "trend" is bound to bring all kinds of scoffing that can range from good-natured ribbing to downright nasty verbal lashing onto the head of the mentioner. It's a justifiable reaction, especially for the savvy woman beyond the first blush of youth. Better always, I agree, to wear what suits you, thrills you, and make you feel and/or look amazing and shun popular trends that are problematic for your personal style.
Got it. So true.
But sometimes, a careful examination of a trend can teach you a thing or two about yourself. For those of you who have read here before, you'll remember that I make a deliberate practice of thinking of trends as just ideas. IMHO, one possible definition of a trend is just an idea that a lot of women are adopting, successfully or not. And I'm always interested in ideas about personal style!
One recent trend/idea for the last couple of warm seasons has been that we're seeing pastels again after a long winter's fascination with "jewel tones" and saturated colors, brights and neons. Pastels have been less frequently available in recent years, and I got the idea that pastels translated somehow into the girlish, or the trivial, or worst of all, the grandmotherly (yikes!) Perky pinks and baby-boy blue, and especially the gender-neutral nursery yellow were not my friends anyway, especially close to my face. But all this time, I've harbored an affection for pastels, and I've been delighted to see them around again. Feels like it's time.
(Not here, of course. Instead of the pastel pink coat that I so wanted this winter, I saw every color but. And my Spring Lust List included a pastel pink dress, but I'm seeing lots of brights, especially the corals and hot pinks that have been around for a while. I probably will not be able to shop without tripping over pale pink everything next summer, but not yet. Trends are, in fact, much of what I have to choose from, even if they are a year or two old. That's the stuff of Big Box Country, y'all.)
So I dove deep into my wardrobe archives and found this dress. I'd worn it exactly once, and I'd had trouble styling it but it avoided recycling because I just loved it. I'd bought it trying to make a tea-length dress work for me, and I'd never found shoes to make it look really good. In spite of the fact that I was no taller, thinner or any younger, I tried it on again to see if anything was miraculously different.
Yes. There was a lot different! All this spring, looking at the magazines, I had oohed and ahhed at the pale but dusty pinks and purples, muted blues and cool mint greens. TAA-DAAA! Here they all were with some deeper but still soft hues, right in this little old Simply Vera dress! They had looked a little subdued and poky when I bought it, but no longer. Because I'd seen the colors in a new context, my eye for them had changed and evolved.
Also different was my perception of what proportions work. Hoisting the hem from the top of the calf to the knee looked much better, especially with my newly cropped head changing the way so many of my older clothes look on me. I also jettisoned the self-belt, allowing the dress to fall into more of a column than into an awkwardly divided shape that my short waist created.
I'd worn it originally with plain, light beige court shoes. I decided to try it with newer shaped (and admittedly trendier) blush sandals with ankle straps. And when it came to the delicate necklace and rings and watch I'd worn before, I just decided to go absolutely minimal ... trending right along .... and was completely happy with the result. (Dan is happier when I wear my wedding rings, and I agree that some jewelry is doable, but there's something liberating about not needing any! )
What was different was my perception of what this little dress could do for me based on newer ideas. Newer for me, anyway.
From where I sit, it seems that the consideration of trends is just another tool to evaluate new ideas, new combinations, and strengthen a new "eye" based on the ideas presented by designers that please me and excite my imagination. Really, there's nothing new under the sun. EVERY season, there are retrospectives and reintroduction and re-imagining of old (often truly ancient!) ideas about how the body can be clothed. Which is why most vintage pieces can look wonderfully and uniquely contemporary. And most vintage pieces can be firmly placed in the era when they were a re-imagined trend from an earlier period, or a natural extension of a recent idea. The re-imagining is what makes "closet shopping" such a gratifying process, and what inspires our current designers and innovators to bring us "new" ideas.
So I've come to the conclusion that trends and new ideas are:
1) the same thing, and only good or bad depending on use. And ...
2) useful information for the evolution and education of my own taste.
I won't admit to the ignominy of being a "trend chaser" but plead guilty to using the ones I like to my advantage. Don't mind if I do, thank you.
"Trend aware, don't care!" That's me.
Linking up with the Every Fabulous and Floral Patti at
Come see what a whole bunch of the glamourati are up to!