Time for Reflection, Creativity and Joy

It is my tradition at the end of every year to post images that provide visual delight in the exquisite work of designers and artists who create beauty.

During this most difficult year of 2020, we have each individually found ways to combat the boredom of isolation and the restlessness due to Covid-restricted activities. Channeling our energy into the creation of beauty is a wonderful way to achieve this.

I am blessed to have friends and acquaintances who have been able to create and to donate masks or meals to assist front line workers. These works of creativity and charity are beautiful indeed.

Clearing out the clutter and finding ways to repurpose items that someone else might find to be more useful or lovely is also a worthwhile use of one’s time.

Learning how to maximize and appreciate what we have in our wardrobes and possessions is another valuable endeavor, as we reflect upon what is truly flattering and what gives us joy.

With that in mind, I am closing for my year-end post this year an eye-catching montage of looks from the December 2020/January 2021 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, which suggests:  “Put a Bow on It:  Add some flare to your socially distanced holidays with lipstick-hued blouses and bejeweled necklaces.” The combinations of bow blouses with necklaces and surprising uses of earrings and brooches as accents to the blouses makes for delightful and surprisingly creative results.

As the year ends, let us find time for reflection, creativity and always, joy. Wishing all my readers much beauty and a happy, healthy 2021.

Brooches – A Surprising Bit of Personality for Your Athleisurewear

In these times of Zoom meetings and staying at home, wearing jewelry may seem like more of an afterthought than ever before, especially when the default mode of dressing is athleisurewear. A delicate pendant necklace and stud earrings may be part of one’s regular look, even when the clothing is super casual, but statement jewelry seems out of place.

Let me suggest a way to inject a bit of personality into athleisurewear dressing. As an impressionable young girl, I was influenced by the fashion selections of my slightly older and more world-wise relatives. I distinctly recall that one of my cousins wore a sweater with the most charming addition – a small brooch pinned to the side near her face. I don’t recall the motif of the brooch, but I recall that it fascinated me because it was so unexpectedly, sassy, stylish. A simple addition but one with great visual impact.

Image:  A Trifari ice cream bar lapel pin I’m wearing during these dog days of summer.

Add a pretty poodle or ice cream cone, a fleur de lis or garden fairy, a vibrantly colored piece of fruit, a convertible car, maybe a sprinkling of mismatched starbursts – and take a basic tee shirt or sweater to a pretty, playful or poignant place. And let your brooch inspire smiles.

Scarves as Works of Art

A renewed interest in silk scarves as fashion accessories this year, especially as cooler weather means the extra heat of silk on the neck is less of an issue, prompts many of us to revisit the vintage pieces already in our wardrobes.

Scarves can add beautiful color to an ensemble, and their versatility is evident, as seen in this montage of photos from the February 2019 issue of Elle. There are books dedicated to the art of scarf tying. Scarf clips can assist in the draping; scarf clips with attached brooches can assist in the exact placement of a scarf for the most flattering look. Scarf tubes through which scarves can be run can add further embellishment and personal style.

The article “Mix, Match & DIY” in the October 2019 issue of Good Housekeeping takes another approach as it urges readers to “Steal these clever ideas for incorporating vintage finds and easy projects into your décor.” One such idea:  “Frame a scarf. Hang a decorative or sentimental scarf in a clear frame for a stunning (and affordable) piece of art.”

Stunning, quite possibly. Affordable? I did some research online to see just how easy and affordable it is to hang a scarf in a clear frame. You’ll need essentially a quality poster-size two-layer frame, which is not going to come cheap. And then you have to figure out how to get the scarf to lay flat and stay put within the confines of the two layers. Putting the scarf on some type of backing is likely to damage the silk. Magnets might be usable, but will interfere with the clean look of framing. Piercing the silk is not an option. I came to the conclusion that this is a job best delegated to a professional framer.

Once framed and hung, the scarf in its frame may well fade or discolor by the effect of sunlight beating through the frame. And, of course, the scarf is no longer available for enjoyment as a fashion accessory. The price of that “affordable” project may be steeper than you might have anticipated.

Once a scarf has outlived its useful life for personal adornment, however, repurposing it by hanging it in a frame or making it into a pillow can extend appreciation of its beauty as a work of art.

Appreciate the Beauty

It’s year-end 2018, and what a year it has been. The optimist in me kicks in as I contemplate 2019, and I wish to share a couple of recent items I read that made me smile.

The December/January issue of Town & Country urges, “It’s been a tough year. Have the DESSERT. Buy the JEWELRY.”

Oprah writes in the October 2018 issue of her magazine, “In the right light, beheld by the right eyes, most anything can possess its own special gorgeousness.”

Whatever special treat you choose to eat (the perfect heirloom tomato, fragrant baked apples, the pecan butter crescent cookies you make for your loved ones every holiday season), and however you choose to adorn yourself (real jewels or faux, vintage or artisan), appreciate every bit of the deliciousness and the beauty. Revel in the beauty. Share the joy.

Wishing all my readers much beauty and a wonderful New Year!

The Myth of the Perfect White Tee & Other Style Advice from Lauren Hutton

When someone who has lived decades in the spotlight as a model and actress provides fashion advice, it’s worthwhile to give it pause.

In the May 2018 issue of Harper’s Bazaar, model and actress Lauren Hutton provides several fashion tips worth heeding. At 74 years old, she is featured in Amy Schumer’s new movie I Feel Pretty, a film that “chronicles a woman’s newfound confidence after she wakes from a fall in SoulCycle class believing she is the most beautiful creature on the planet.”  

About her own beauty and style, Hutton writes:  “It takes a long time to find your personal style. Most of us just sort of bump around in the beginning.”

She notes that, it’s been goodbye to four-inch stilettos after multiple operations on her leg following a motorcycle accident, but “Manolo Blahnik makes mid-heel slingbacks that feel like you’ve wrapped your feet in a Shakespeare sonnet.”

Hutton urges readers: “Forget the myth of one ‘perfect’ white T-shirt. To find the one that suits you, you must consider your skin undertone. If you’re pink, go for a creamy white, but if you’re yellow like me you’ll want a bright white. I stock up at the Row and J. Crew.”

“Why must working women wear such drab colors?”  Hutton quotes this question posed by fashion maven Diana Vreeland to designer Yves Saint Laurent. Hutton’s approach: “I always try to wear a pop of something wonderful, vibrant, brilliant–colors that feel alive.”

Food for thought!

Jewels of Inspiration

Every year, I would wrap up my jewelry blog at TrulyJewelry.com with a montage of recently published photos of spectacularly beautiful jewels. This year, for this TrulyBecoming.com blog, I wish to inspire with photos of a different theme.

Actress Julia Roberts, who turned 50 in October, is spotlighted in the December 2017 issue of InStyle magazine. She was crowned People magazine’s “World’s Most Beautiful Woman” for a record fifth time, and as the subject of a fashion photo shoot, she knows how to address a camera. But the photographs by Carter Smith and the fashion styling for the magazine (those responsible for hair, makeup, manicure and prop styling are identified but the overall fashion stylist does not appear to be identified) have put together one of the most exquisite fashion spreads I have ever seen.

1217 Julia Roberts InStyle 1 white lace w horse REV

Roberts is photographed in fashions with a Western wear theme, wearing flowing dresses, Southwestern jewelry, and cowboy boots. The above shot, featuring a lacy white dress by Chloe, is reminiscent of Runaway Bride.

1217 Julia Roberts InStyle 3 2 pc dress REV

This second photo features the actress in head-to-toe Dior.

Find the styles that flatter you and give you joy, and make them your signature look. Wishing all my readers a joy-filled 2018.

Dressing for Respect

A pair of articles in the February 2017 issue of InStyle magazine spotlight the power of dressing purposefully. How one chooses to dress can send a message of inspiration, and can communicate a demand for respect.

In a thought-provoking article in the February 2017 issue of InStyle, Eric Wilson asks: “Can fashion be feminist? With their spring collections, designers clearly had power and politics on their minds as they created wardrobes for modern working women. As the world continues to change in unpredictable ways, however, that message of strength may be more important than ever.”

0217 Can Fashion Be Feminist REVPictured in the 2/17 issue of InStyle, Kendall Jenner imagined as Rosie the Riveter, from campaigns from the Independent Journal Review and Rock the Vote, fall 2016.

Wilson writes that “we are entering a season in which clothing can play an unexpected role in how we communicate our viewpoints to the world. Wearing a pantsuit or a pussy-bow blouse suddenly becomes a political act, open to interpretation.” He continues: “The cause of feminism, in particular, benefits when fashion embraces the imagery of strong women, much as Stella McCartney and Donatella Versace have done in their recent collections, because clothing is, in a way, a universal language. And it is becoming less of a stigma for smart women to talk about fashion or embrace feminine clothing in the workplace rather than dress like men to get ahead.”

Tucker describes how designer Gaby Basora, the founder and creative director of Tucker, “often considers how specific items of clothing can be empowering, even if the sense of strength is only what we ascribe to it in our minds. ‘Ultimately, fashion can be a way to express things about yourself that are more meaningful than just a blouse,’ she says. ‘It’s fascinating how we create illusions.'” Basora, Wilson writes, “like to think about . . . a family friend who, as a successful educator with a taste for immaculate clothes, made a point of riding the bus to work every day so that young women might see her and begin to imagine having important jobs of their own.”

0217 Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in Balmain poncho REV

Illustration:  Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, pictured in the 2/17 issue of InStyle wearing Balmain.

The February 2017 issue of InStyle  also contains a profile of supermodel and style icon Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, calling her “The Chicest Lady at the Airport.” Writer Stephanie Trong writes that Huntington-Whitely as “emerged as the foremost trendsetter” of “airport style” and quotes the model: “People probably think I’m overdressed for the airport . . . [but] that’s just me–a great outfit is my armor. I feel confident and ready to face the world.”

Consider how Huntington-Whiteley is an “influencer,” someone whom others choose to emulate, just like the impeccably dressed educator on the bus.  Consider how fashion  can serve as armor, and how fashion can convey a message of strength — a message that commands respect.

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Recognizing Your Personal Design Aesthetic

Inspiration may strike anytime, anywhere. So too may recognition of styles or motifs that resonate on a deeply personal level.

I was struck by the common elements of the designs pictured in the February/March 2017 issue of Traditional Home magazine in its Curated column entitled “Style, With Love: This season’s hottest furniture signs off with X’s and O’s.”

0117 design aesthetics Traditional Home Feb Mar Xs Ox REV

Consider, for instance, this page of designs from the article: a chandelier of golden rings from Gabby; an X-base ottoman from A. Rudin; a side chair from Chaddock; an end table with asymmetrical “X” base by Jonathan Charles, and metal circles that playfully interlock on the “Nasir” objet from Made Goods. Studying this page gives me pause to consider which elements of which of the designs are my personal favorites and, taking it a step further, why they are my favorites.

As you look at the designs, consider:  Do you prefer a very structured, symmetrical look, or something more free-form and interpretative? Do you prefer a spare design or something that suggests abundance? Do you prefer visually light designs or those that make a more profound statement?

When it comes to personal style, what you find pleasing in home design may provide clues as to what you will find most pleasing to wear, and vice versa. Chandelier earrings may inspire you to look for a particular style of chandelier. Or perhaps a page of designs that incorporate X’s and O’s remind how charming it might be to wear these symbols of kisses and hugs, especially as Valentine’s Day approaches.

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New Resolutions for the New Year

As the New Year approaches, I was delighted to read Martha Beck’s article in the January 2017 issue of O, the Oprah Magazine, “You Say You Want a Resolution. . . . ”

1216 Martha Beck resolutions article entire REV

Beck notes that her resolutions for 2016 were almost identical to those she made back in 1987 and asked herself two questions: “Do these goals resonate with me? Are they really what I want most in the entire world?” She concluded that it was time for new resolutions, which, I note, on their face look to be the polar opposites of classic New Year’s resolutions.

Among her new resolutions:  “spend more” (. . . positive attention to what she already has); “be self-involved” (and distance herself from people she doesn’t trust), and “forget what I’ve learned” (releasing misperceptions). She encourages her readers to compile their own new resolutions: “You may want to underachieve. Oversleep. Fritter away more of your days.”

My favorite on her list is the first resolution: “Gain weight.” Beck writes: “For so many people, January 2 is D day–diet day, that is. Losing weight can be a laudable goal, but this year I’m going to think about weightier matters–weighty as in ‘of great importance,’ a definition that does not apply to dress size.” Beck notes that it absolutely did not matter what Florence Nightingale, Rosa Parks or Malala Yousafzai weighed when they made their marks on the world. And so, Beck writes, start asking “What would really make me happy right now?”:  “Whenever body shame creeps up on me, I resolve to refocus on adding meaning to my life.”

With the New Year, I resolve to be ever grateful for the increasing strength of my body as I enjoy more activity (including my rediscovered love of swimming); for already owning a wardrobe filled with flattering clothes in a range of smaller sizes in which I can “shop” as my shape reflects a fresh focus on fitness; and for my health, all within the context of the love of my husband and all those family members, professional colleagues and friends who are dear to me. In short, I resolve to gain weight (in the Martha Beck sense) and, by gaining weight, to lose weight in a healthy sense as well.

I resolve to concentrate on “what would really make me happy right now.” In that light, let me share a few images that resonate with me and make me smile — perhaps the inspiration for future resolutions. Happy New Year!

1216 J. Crew ad woman fishing with her dogs outdoors REV

1216 Cartier Paris store jewelry in window REV

1216 kitty cat and soft yarns REV

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Authenticity in Personal Style

As any image consultant worth her salt will tell you, your style should reflect your personality and taste — the authentic you.  As fashion pushes out the next trend and the next, urging you to try and buy, it can be fun to expand your horizons and see what works for you. Ultimately, however, the style needs to suit you. There is never one cool or right way to dress.

0816 Iris Apfel quote see yourself in mirror Real Simple REV

Along that line of thought, the media has been full of examples that exemplify the call to authentic style. Consider this wonderful thought from fashion icon Iris Apfel, published in the September 2016 issue of Real Simple:  “To me, the worst fashion faux pas is to look in the mirror and not see yourself.”  The charming photograph of the little girl in her mismatched prints is by Stephanie Rousser.

0816 Adele identical dresses for concert v 1 REV

The August 12, 2016 issue of the Los Angeles Times contains an article by Adam Tschorn:  “It’s what Adele wears to an Adele concert: Not the type to mull over myriad choices each show, she wears one Burberry design.” Literally, Adele, wears one custom-designed dress (of which she owns 10 copies). The dress is a “floor-length gown that nips in at the waist, has a crew neck, three-quarter-length sleeves and a multicolored floral sequin pattern that dazzles and sparkles like mad under the lights.” She finishes the look with comfortable flats, not high heels.  This is the epitome of uniform dressing. Every detail has no doubt been considered — what neckline is comfortable, what sleeve-length feels good, and what is most flattering. Having found the perfect dress, Adele sticks with it.

0816 rant re unflattering dress Sept Glamour REV

Authenticity too sometimes means that not everyone is going to approve of your fashion choices. In the September 2016 issue of Glamour, associate fashion writer Lauren Chan defends her choice of a dress that, once posted, elicited comments about how unflattering it is. Chan responds: “Here’s where I call bullshit: Unflattering is just a code word for ‘not slimming,’ and shocking as it may seem, this size 12 woman doesn’t choose clothes for the sole purpose of appearing elongated, slimmer, or sucked in. ”

Chan continues:  “Curves are all well and good, these commenters seemed to be saying, as long as you wear Spanx and head-to-toe black and stay away from stripes (never mind stripes and ruffles).  In other words, while we’re embracing women of all sizes as never before, we’ve yet to accept that successful dressing doesn’t mean minimizing our bodies.”

Chan’s conclusion is worth contemplating: “So know this: If you hate what I’m wearing, I can take it! But I like my curves, and I don’t want to ‘flatter’ them away.”

When you look in the mirror, see yourself. Embrace the authentic you.

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