Monday morning, I decided to stop for breakfast on the way to work. The weather was dreadful, I was recovering from a bad cold and felt a little down, and I needed coffee…and pancakes. I went to a moderately upscale café downtown, couldn’t find a parking space close to the front door, and had to walk in the rain. I arrived cranky and bedraggled.
Being an avid people-watcher, I noticed a stylish gentleman crossing the street. Except for the black umbrella he was carrying, he seemed oblivious to the downpour. He was wearing a black trench coat, a derby-style hat, and a black cashmere scarf. He entered the restaurant, hung his umbrella by the door, and sat down at the table next to mine. He greeted me with a polite “good morning.“ The waiter brought his coffee and he drank it contently, while reading The New York Times.
He was probably around seventy years old, with white hair and twinkling blue eyes. He was wearing horn-rimmed glasses, black trousers, a crisp, white shirt, a black cardigan sweater, and expensive shoes. His posture was excellent and his manners impeccable. His mode of dress was elegant, but quite understated…except for one thing. As he crossed his legs, I got a flash of fire engine red socks. “How cheeky,” I thought. “And, how stylish!” Somehow, my day became a little brighter.
That’s the thing about style. It doesn’t have to scream or jump up and knock you over the head. Sometimes it sneaks up on you. More than anything, it simply requires attention to details. In his case…the distinctive glasses, the freshly ironed shirt, the pulled-together blacks in varying shapes and textures…and then…BAM…those socks…just the thing to give his look a little pizzazz, without trying too hard.
Looking around these days, I don’t see many truly stylish people. I see a lot of reasonably attractive people who are perfectly presentable, albeit, unoriginal. And that is, I suppose, a style statement...being clean, well-groomed, and dressed appropriately to fit in without drawing too much attention to themselves. But it’s kind of boring.
Then, there are the people who seem not to care at all, or the one’s who are defiantly trying to freak us out. They’re making a style statement too…not a particularly pleasant one…but that’s fine. I just wouldn’t hire them…
My own personal style is identifiable, but perhaps a tad lazy. There are days when I’m pulled together, and others when I’m schlepping through the mall in sweats and flip-flops. I wear a lot of black…it goes with everything, and requires very little pre-planning. I prefer “wash and wear.“ I don’t iron, so most of my clothes are stretchy…or wrinkled.:) I like black jeans too. My hair is long and zero maintenance. I don’t dye, and I blow dry on the way to work with the car windows rolled down. I don’t wear a lot of makeup, but I usually wear mascara, blush, and lipstick. I like to be comfortable…maybe a little too comfortable…
So my first project for Project Style ~ 2012 is to take my personal style to the next level. Not to completely change the way I look, but to pay more attention to the final product. I like the black…I like the hair…I have nice things. But I need discipline…and punch. I don't want style to rule my life, but I need to at least look in the mirror before I walk out the door. And I’d like to add unexpected details…like the red socks…to elevate my look and help me sparkle in the “sea-of-black” that is so prevalent in the world of art and design. Personal style is expression…a noble stand against blandness, apathy, negligence, and sloppiness. Style says, “I’m interesting…I'm unique...I’m intelligent…I’m confident…I care.”
Have a stylish day!