3.09.2010

sartorialist

You may think it is odd that I would include an entry on everyday style in my Pantheon of Slow Love Life moments, but let me explain. Before I started reading Scott Schuman’s blog, gazing in wonder at the fascinating creatures he finds and photographs on his wanderings, I didn’t care that much about fashion. I read Vogue, and follow the scene during Fashion Week, out of idle curiosity. But those experiences usually leave me feeling jangled and out of it. Too fat, too poor, too lazy to deserve to be fashionable.

But reading the Sartorialist is another matter entirely. It’s like visiting a beautiful garden full of entrancing flowers. You stop, you study their striations, you wonder how they evolved to mix such interesting colors and textures, you notice all sorts of combinations that never in a million years would you have thought of yourself. I have been educating my eye about what makes true style, poring over the Sartorialist’s pictures--and that has changed the way I wander through the streets of the city.

I’ve started finding my own moments of sartorial splendor--because instead of glazing over when I’m in a crowd, I find a focus, and study it--just as I do in a splendid garden. I notice a beautiful shoe with a crazy-colored sock, or a large sack hanging below a skinny short skirt, banging against lace-stocking legs. I notice how hair is pinned up, or how faces are colored in. And instead of thinking about myself, and how I could never do that sort of thing, woe is me & etc., I appreciate the display all around me. How amazing and how generous, that people would dress themselves up simply to attract and entertain us--for free!

The Sartorialist has not only changed the way I look at the swirl of humanity around me, he has also changed the way I look at my closet, and given me a sense of freedom about the way I pick and choose my clothes for the day. For some reason, he has inspired me to wear my bright silk scarves when I’m gardening. They keep me warm, and that keeps them useful--because after all, I don’t have meetings to wear them to anymore, so what else am I going to do with them? Hang them on the wall? (Well, yes, that’s an idea too. So is turning them into pillows to spark up the sofa; that might stave off the upholsterer for another year.) I often think about how Katharine White (wife of beloved E.B. White and author of Onward and Upward in the Garden) used to wear her Ferragamo shoes out to inspect the new plantings….Why not? Those bulbs are no dimmer than many we’ll meet!

Spring is in the air, and the purple and green whorls of hosta will soon begin to unfurl from the earth. I can’t wait to see what will be blooming on the sidewalks!

2 comments:

HN said...

Dominique,

I am so please to have discovered your blog (via Design Sponge) and eagerly await the release of your book. Congrats! I too have found a new life & pace "in the aftermath" and adore how you express the "awakenings".

Also wanted to chime in re Sartorialist which is one of my favs. It too inspired me to be more creative with my wardrobe mix and I now seem to have a mini-wardrobe of fabulous vintage finds in addition to my beloved collection of floppy straw beach hats & fedoras hats that althought I dont really have everyday reason to wear, I now don while I take my morning coffee in the garden, or as I putter around the house going about my daily business. That little personal touch of whimsy and freedom constantly makes me smile, and a lifted heart and mind are what it's all about.

Glad to join your readership!

H.

Anonymous said...

Freedom from dictated fashion is delicious, isn't it? While never a fashionista, I have completely thrown away any concerns with being current now that I have embraced being an "elder." (Yes, I am embracing that concept as I flow toward my 60th birthday. Another freedom and another topic for another time.)

But I thought you'd love the experience I had recently with a very young Nordstrom salesman at the jewelry counter. He approached to tell me of the latest fashion color (yellow) and styles. I responded by thanking him and telling him, "Frankly, I look dreadful in yellow. And I no longer care what's fashionable."

His head snapped backward as if he'd been struck and he stared at me with opened mouth. He was quite literally dumbfounded. He did recover, and I realized he kept trailing me around the counters and striking up conversation. We had several delightful exchanges before I left.

You know, it's quite possible that this young man may have never before realized there is a choice regarding whether or not to be concerned with fashion. Wow!