Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Unvarnished Sophistication

"I think you can be substantial and still be interested in frivolity."  - Sophia Coppola

We all strive to create beauty in our own little worlds.  Be that in fashion, hairstyles, decor, technological accessories and appliances, transportation and lifestyle in general - it is an ever present need.  To make our space a little brighter, a little cozier, the teensiest bit more stylish or homey not only drives industry around the globe, it has tremendous power.  I dare say it can be downright transformative.  If only in our own minds.  

And isn't that the point?  

In my mind's eye, I fancy myself a cooly disheveled librarian type.  Perpetually clad in cardigans and glasses, hair often up and in some variation of a bun.  It suits, I suppose.  I am oft disheveled and bookish.    

But I am also the teensiest bit obsessive.  Is my bun disheveled in the right way today - or do I just look a mess?  Does my cardigan look too new - too bright - or have I crossed the path to looking homeless and bargain basement-y.   Are my pants too... matchy - matchy or suit-like?   Where is the line?  Most of my clothing is worn to the death (and at times post mortem).  Nearly every sweater or cardigan I own has at least one hole in it.   And while I find myself dreaming of fancier duds, I'm also inexplicably attached to my little stock of broken, beaten and generally loved items.   

I look to my more polished friends and colleagues and I am completely fascinated.  And every now and again I want that.  I'll troll the fancier shops, touching the sleeves of sweaters and jackets and dresses that within one purchase would cost more than my rent.  I've made my share of those purchases.  I look at my friends on a particularly posh day and I want what they have.  I want that polish,  that look-how-fancy-and-together-and-professional-I-look,  kind of look.  Very Brooks Brothers.  Possibly Banana Republic.  Or at least The Limited.  

But it doesn't last.  It never does.  I long for my hole-y, cozy cardigan.  I crave a slightly more librarian-ish set of specs, a hodge-podge of interesting accessories, and beat up leather heels whose scuffs and scratches amp up the character of my outfit.   I don't feel myself especially stylish, and sometimes what I end up wearing in public is a complete disaster.  Some days, like today, I catch a glance at my reflection in a mirror and seriously reconsider my choices.  (SERIOUSLY).   

I feel like fashion and style is supposed, in its truest form, to supplement and create an outward projection of your inner self.  It's not about owning a particular "look" or trolling a particular shop.  It's about doing and wearing and gathering and living in a collection of things that make you feel beautiful.  Whatever that means to you today.  Today.  Right now.  
Because feeling beautiful can happen anywhere.  In decades-old sweatpants or an evening gown.  In designer jeans or cuddled up on the couch with a patchwork quilt so old the cotton has softened to the point of fray.  If you fight what feels good and makes you feel beautiful today - you will be uncomfortable on the inside.  

And that kind of beauty doesn't appeal so much to me today.   

My initial blush of attraction was founded on shakey ground, I must admit.  I was in college and a member of the English department, where the chainsmoking liberals gathered in their cordoroy and sweaters to wax intellectual on the front stoop of our riot-proof lockbox of a building.  And I adored them.  The tweed and cigarettes and cordoroy, their quiet harumphing demeanors.  They were interesting.  They were smart.  And I wanted to look that way.  I wanted to look their type of smart.  Their type of quiet confidence.  
I was in a sorority and loved pink and Diet Coke.  But I also loved to wear vintage clothes, listened to the Beatles and Radiohead and wanted nothing to do with the bar scene.  I was then and am now a mesh of so many different ideas and styles and ideals.... a combination of so many things.

I am smart.  And interesting.  And passionate and quiet and way too loud and confused about so many things.  I want to be rich and poor and settled and free and silly and serious and foolish and intellectual all at once.  Every day.  
It's less about trying to look a certain way, to surround yourself with certain things that may or may not speak a certain something to someone else.  It's about finding your combination of weird and rolling with it.  

Jeans and cardigan, librarian glasses and bun, tea and a book - meet rollercoasters, sequins, champagne, diet coke and pom-poms.   I think you'll get along just fine.  

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