Friday, July 15, 2011

Maryl writes: Personal Style is in your closet

Met Exhibit
I’ve been thinking about personal style lately.  Maybe it was spurred on by my perusing Inès de la Fressange’s Parisian Chic” guide, referenced on the 2nd Thoughts page.  Maybe also viewing the Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and “L’Amour Fou,” the recent documentary on Yves Saint Laurent, made me curious too.  Both designers broke the rules and changed the way women dress.  Personal style encompasses more than the clothes we wear but we have to make those style choices every day and that is how others judge us whether we care or not. 

Met Exhibit
I stare into my closet and realize that my personal style has not really changed but evolved over time and not just because I now don yoga instead of office attire each morning before taking my place at my laptop. I still follow fashion but as we shed our former roles and responsibilities, our wardrobe morphs as well. There are less codes I need to follow so I’m free to differentiate myself even more and in a manner that makes me feel more comfortable both physically and psychologically. We entered the corporate world suited and shoulder padded to death. McQueen’s gazelle-horned tailored jacket may have cracked the glass ceiling but the damage could have been irreparable. (Can I get that in black without the antlers, please?) 

His Met exhibit was pure theater, something to behold and there were even a few ensembles I could have worn to the office. But McQueen didn’t look at haute couture as being as transitory as it is or an end unto itself. He said, “I think the idea of mixing luxury and mass-market fashion is very modern - wearing head-to-toe designer has become a bit passe. It's a new era in fashion - there are no rules. It's all about the individual and personal style, wearing high-end, low-end, classic labels, and up-and-coming designers all together.” So maybe my Michael Kors sheath dress that I wear with sandals I found at a discount outlet, beaded necklace from a trip to India and earrings from Claire’s fits McQueen’s definition of modern. And my Galliano wool and satin jacket with my jeans and Pumas are mixed up enough as well. Most importantly, I feel appropriate, a bit edgy and myself in these outfits, which I’ve had for several seasons now, and never that I should have worn something else. (Know that feeling?)

Yves Saint Laurent broke fashion barriers too. He has been credited with making women feel more comfortable and elegant wearing pants to work or out for the evening as well as for play. We may have forgotten but pants were fairly taboo in the workplace up until the 60’s and 70’s. (Come to think of it women were pretty scarce there too at least in management positions.) Saint Laurent slimmed down menswear silhouettes to fit the feminine shape and introduced the “Le Smoking” tuxedo jacket in 1966. The stylish pantsuit followed and women wore them wherever they pleased. He designed for the fashion-conscious working woman with a modern spin and a touch of fantasy. "For a long time now," Saint Laurent said, "I have believed that fashion was not only supposed to make women beautiful, but to reassure them, to give them confidence, to allow them to come to terms with themselves." His designs were based on this notion and were in sync with the newly found success women were experiencing in the corporate world around the same time.

Met Exhibit
I believe styling your wardrobe is a creative process. The most mundane tasks can be more fun if what you’re wearing makes you feel fabulous. McQueen also said, “For me, what I do is an artistic expression which is channeled through me. Fashion is just the medium.” If we still believe that the “medium is the message,” then let’s start communicating that this passage of life is indeed more fun and fabulous than what preceded. "Every woman in the world, sometimes without even knowing it, has something in her closet inspired by Yves Saint Laurent," said the American designer Michael Kors. So mix it up; go look in your closet!

Recap of links: 
1)   Inès de la Fressange’s “Parisian Chic” guide reference 
2)   Alexander McQueen exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of
3)  Yves Saint Laurent documentary, “L’Amour Fou
4)  YSL "Le Smoking" jacket


  1. Nice post, things explained in details. Thank You.