Saturday nights were always important affairs in my house growing up. Those were the nights I got to learn firsthand how a woman dresses with purpose. At age 10, I’d impatiently look forward to the moment when I could put on my pajamas and race to the bathroom, holding my bear by his arm as I’d peek through the door jamb and watch my mom primp and fuss. It was wonderful. She’d stand in her silk robe setting her hair in curlers, leaning over the sink to get her eyes just so. Later she’d rush around her room in her slippers, trying to decide between three evening gowns that hung on the curtain rod, weighing her choices as she fastened on diamond earrings.
And I was there the whole time, standing with my little feet in her white heels, rogue swiped on my cheeks messily, and my eyes adoring. I couldn’t wait till it was my turn to be a grown up woman with her own room to rush around in on a Saturday night. I couldn’t wait to be as glamorous as my own mother, trying my hardest to memorize every elegant move of the hip as she ran to the closet in her heels, every graceful sweep as she bent down to rifle through her silver jewelry box. My mother's style was larger than life, not because of the clothes but because it represented everything wonderful about the woman who created it.
And while I’m not quite my mom at 25, I’ve developed a similar script for myself when it comes to my life and style. When I think of my mother, I don’t just think of her happy brown eyes or the pencil skirt dresses she has a penchant for. I think of moments like those Saturday nights, where everything about her moved with a quiet elegance and a class as subtle and sweet as her pink perfume.
When I think of her face, I can't help but think of moments where she’d stand in a slim column dress at a holiday party, talking cheerfully with my aunt as she held her silver clutch in the crook of her arm, her smile warm and her eyes laughing. When I think of who she is as a person, I think of the cloud of perfume she left behind as she’d push the grocery cart down the cereal aisle, laughing as I made a strong case for why a kid needs Coco Puffs to succeed in life. I think of the prim pointy-toed heels she’d briskly walk to church in, and the ‘20s-inspired felt hats she’d hide underneath in cold winter evenings as we went out to eat.
When I think of the woman that my mother is, I think of all those little snippets intertwined with how strong, bright, and traditionally proper she is. The dresses are just as much a part of her as her compassion, as her light, and her laugh. She dressed and moved with purpose, and her appearance helped set herself in my memory. Her style wasn’t just the dresses she chose or the trends she dabbled in — her style was also her autobiography.
Women who choose to be true to their own personal style and
express it intentionally day after day create an existence out of that creation.
The clothes become just as much a part of who they are as the sound of their
laugh or the sharpness of their wit. It’s how they will be remembered — whether
a week later or a decade past — and how we will be affected by them.
A few days ago I met a beautiful blonde woman who was a cabaret dancer and — seeing how that's not the usual response I get when I ask “What do you do?” — I asked how she fell into that profession. Smiling, she tucked a curl behind her ear and said that her grandmother was always this glamorous, Gatsby-esque woman, who walked in a pink cloud of perfume and always had diamonds at her ears, despite it being only a Wednesday. She always admired her grandmother's dedication to bringing out everything beautiful in life and for her stern insistence for elegance even on drab weekdays, and it always stuck with her. It affected her in a wonderfully deep way. By her grandmother dressing everyday like she was heading out to a Sunday afternoon tea, she communicated what she thought was beautiful and important in life. With her dress, she touched people and transformed them.
That, to me, is what style is about. It’s about having purpose, about showing what you find beautiful on the inside and inviting others to revel in it. It’s about touching people with your message and living your life out loud. It’s about creating a lasting memory, in a way where the sweater you choose is just as much an extension of yourself as the touch of your hand on someone’s shoulder, or your smile directing a hello.
Your style isn’t about you having the correct pants this season, or if your bag clashes with your dress. It’s about sharing your message with those around you; it's about how I’ll remember you, and how you’ll remember me.
And when you think of it that way, it becomes a lot less stressful and holds a lot more meaning. By finding the courage to express your true style (and not just follow along with fashion rules) you create lasting, wonderful memories in people's minds of the person you are and were.
You'll always be remembered by people. You might as well make the memory a beautifully vivid one.
Images: Fotolia; Giphy; Marlen Komar