Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Your "Signature" Look

I was fortunate enough to be visiting my family this weekend and one sibling was bemoaning the fact that her daughter, my adorable niece, was exhibiting some very strong opinions about fashion, particularly with regard to what she'd like to wear.  Apparently, there are stores that cater to the under-ten set yet the items that they offer are really not acceptable to a lot of parents, their tendency to sell more mature-looking items the bane of many mother or father’s existence.  Of course, at seven, like my niece, you want to wear what everyone else is wearing and if everyone is wearing sweatshirts that hint at a Flashdance flashback, all the better.  But some of us feel that our children exposing too much skin may not be the best idea, so we argue and cajole and yes, sometimes all out fight to get them to wear what we feel is age appropriate.

It is times like these that I look back fondly at the twelve years I wore a uniform.  No muss, no fuss.  Everyone looked the same, save for some personalization that manifested itself in shorter skirts or sweaters tied around necks, but really, when all was said and done, there was not a lot you could do to “mix it up” with the school uniform.

I tried talking some sense into my niece but she wasn’t having any of it.  My advice to her, which may have been about ten years too soon was “develop your signature look and stick with it.”  She responded by staring blankly at me and asking if there were any more cupcakes, an entirely suitable response for someone who is a long way away from seeing the value in adopting her aunt’s style, which is comprised of the following:

Winter:  Black turtleneck/Jeans
Summer:  Colorful tunic/Jeans

It’s foolproof.

I cannot follow the fashions.  First, I’m almost fifty.  (Almost.)  Second, I’m tall.  And third, I am what one might call “zaftig” but which I call “athletically built”—that is, if athletes had slight paunches, flabby arms, and big busts.  So, skinny jeans, tight tee shirts, and anything midriff-bearing is out.  So are mini skirts, sleeveless shirts, and anything with a v-neck.  (Remember, when you stare down into the depths of your cleavage, it looks much worse than in reality.  But who among us can’t resist looking down into our cleavage?)  I have found that sticking to my adult version of a uniform works much better and helps me avoid fashion mistakes that are almost certainly, inevitably caught on film, posted on Facebook and there for all eternity.

Subjecting my niece to my thoughts about fashion got me thinking, though:  do you follow the trends, getting new items of clothing or new pairs of shoes based on what is going on in the world of fashion, or like me, stick to a “signature” look? 

Maggie Barbieri


  1. My signature look is probably whatever I bought when I last had money to splurge on myself (oh, about 4 years ago). So here's mine:

    Style minus four or five years.

    I, too, miss my uniform at times. It sure made things easier. Then again, when you've been wearing the same stuff for 4 or 5 years it kinda becomes a uniform. Hmmmm... Maybe there's a Freudian thing in my hatred of shopping after all.

  2. In college I was very known for my uniform of a plaid flannel shirt and jeans. One day, as I rode my bike back to the dorm on a freakishly warm February afternoon, I passed a bunch of dorm mates sunning themselves on the lawn and I teasingly yelled out "Ah, I see the studious men and women of Mottier Hall are hard at work!" One of them called back "Yeah, Vicky, why don't you go put on your flannel bathing suit and join us." Oh, snap, as the kids like to say.

    Since I work most days stuck in my home, with no one to see, I find that I get into modes of dressing "up", a bit, on days spent running errands or going out to knit club. That only means no stretchy pants and a crappy sweatshirt, so it's pretty easy to up the ante. Some nice Capri pants and a cute blouse or a pretty vest over my ordinary white shirt, etc., does it.

    You know those magazine articles that tell us which five new pieces to buy that will allow us to combine them into 423 different outfits? I tend to shop for clothes that way: I stick with lengths and coverage I like (I'm nearly 52 years old) and try to mix up colors, what few colors I venture away from black and Khaki for, that all fit together. Lately I've been working shades of purple and lavender/lilac. Oh, and I make the most of accessories--so much cheaper and so versitle--for added pizazz. I got it going on with scarves.

    That said, don't we all have those few little items we bought on whim that were off our charts? I remember a bright coral raincoat I had in France, and it matched NOTHING. But, I loved it. And then there was the pretty mini-dress I had once that was covered in a noisy sunflower pattern. Or that lovely silk long camisole/slip dress with a flared hem that I still have hanging in the closet, that only gets worn as a jammie or hidden under-garment. I can't give it up. It's creamy background is covered with a rainbow of floral notes. Thankfully a silk camisole doesn't take up much closet space though it occupies lots of good memory space.

    And, I confess that sometimes at the end of a workday, I freak out a bit about getting more presentable for my husband when he comes home. It seems somehow wrong that he gets back from his long day, still looking pretty sharp in his "people can actually see me during the day" clothes, to find me in the same old, baggy ensemble with my hair still looking like I've got mousse and squirrel in it! He loves me, but . . . YIKES!

  3. Laura, I guess I'm still wearing a uniform, too.

    And Vicky, I want a picture of that coral raincoat. It sounds divine.


  4. I am commenting as the mother of this 7-year old - we had the same fight this morning when she was getting dressed for school. Apparently, bermuda shorts aren't cool to this age group either - way too long for her tastes. It's getting better and better.....

  5. I think I have a picture of me wearing it somewhere . . . who knows, honestly, in this mass of bad-housekeeping!

    And, although I remember buying the coat (in was in competition with the same coat in lime green and cadet blue, but the orangy-coral won out!) and I remember wearing it A LOT, I have no idea what happened to it. Did I lose it by leaving it on a bus or something? Did I give it away? Did I just toss it when I moved back to the states? Take your guess, because it's as good as mine!

  6. I usually wear black tops and black pants and top it with a big colorful jacket of some sort. Have to cover up all those rolls somehow.

  7. Right now, I'm lucky when I find things that fit! It really is tricky with maternity clothing as the body changes from month to month throughout the whole pregnancy. Not sure what I'd do without yoga pants (even if I have to cut the waistbands off of them!). I think fashion is all about finding your own style, not following trends. So whatever works, I say!

  8. Since I have been very large, and am now in the process of losing weight, my uniform of elastic waist pants, and pretty tops and sweaters is going to need a makeover. Of course, I have a closet full of "smaller" size clothes. Do they still wear jumpers with tee shirts? I probably will because I like the style, ever since I was pregnant 47 years ago. I simply don't think in terms of what is appropriate for a seventy year old to wear. And I find I don't care that much. As for kids-they are doing pretty much what we did, just a little more revealing ;)

  9. Trish, find her signature look! You don't have to call it that but maybe if you can ascertain what she'll wear--within reason--you can buy it in every color.

    Marilyn, your style sounds suspiciously like mine.

    Susan, we need to go maternity clothes' shopping together!

    Lil, wear whatever makes you comfortable. If I could wear a turtleneck all year round, I would. Unfortunately, out East here, the weather precludes that. Maggie

  10. I was thrilled when I read that Jamie Lee Curtis only wore [personal wardrobe] black & white.. Boy does that make it simple..