I want to talk about personal style. I've done some research, visited with style and fashion experts, and spent my life interested in it - as my mother, grandmother and cousin Alta were before me. So why are my genes predisposed to this concept and other's aren't? And what does style mean or have to do with anything anyway? That's what I'm thinking about today.
Ok, let's start with what is style and why it's important.
According to author and style expert Tim Gunn, style is about choice, specifically "unmediated choice" which he defines as choice that is made by the person for the person and not dictated by others. It's a "choice" that speaks to one's soul and not the mere offerings of Neiman Marcus, Ann Taylor, The Gap, or even Target.
That's not to say one might not find a piece of "one's soul" at these places. If one did, however, it would be because that item connected to one's sense of true person-hood, that it spoke to you. But not everyone gets spoken to in the same way. Sometimes it's the fashion industry that's speaking and not the real you. And, of course, not everyone has thought about who they are (from a style point of view and in other ways) and they might not care. Knowing and caring about style is something learned. And I, like many others, have learned it from babyhood
My first style recollection was at age five. Back then I had a pair of long denim pants covered with a gold and black leopard print and I have never felt more "me" than when I strolled around the playground wearing these along with my favorite red sneakers. No one needed to tell me I was smashing because I knew I was smashing ... deep into my bones. And to this day, animal skins - preferable fake and colorful ones - speak to me. In fact, I'm wearing a pink leather lizard jacket right now (along with comfortable zebra striped shoes) and believe me, I'm feeling good!
Unfortunately for some of us, authentic, good-feeling style is not necessarily about "good taste. " It's role, unlike some people's notion of appropriate dress, is to artfully - yet respectively - create an aura that gives joy and empowerment to the owner as well as others.
It seems possible to me that "we are what we wear" is not a superficial thought at all but an existential one.
Style is about our choices in life that help us confirm a sense of aesthetics and values. It's an opportunity for communicating what's important, for showing respect and care, for creating a visual space through our outer selves that expresses our inner convictions, our very heart center, our lives and purpose.
Personally speaking, I'm wild about sharing my heart center, for selecting wearables that stimulate my sense of what's possible, for what's joyous, for what's different and pleasing - all in a conservative kind of way of course. I'm no Lady Gaga. But when it comes to style and living my convictions, it's in my human genes and my Betsy soul. Style, for me, is about sharing beauty, art and fun with the world, just like I did when I was five.