Saturday, January 25, 2014

real style talk

This is currently the background on my desktop at work.
I remember seeing this last year and just thinking, yes. 
Honestly, style is hard to explain. Is there a true definition? I'm not sure. There's fashion, sure. Trends, seasons, the ever-changing currents of the industry. But a person's style is...personal.

I once had a conversation with a dear friend who was asking me what was so important about makeup and clothes and hairstyles, and why it had to define a woman so much.
She was feeling pressure from people to look a certain way or shop for certain things - to fix her hair and dress more feminine.
It was kind of a soul-searching moment for me, because I love that kind of thing. I enjoy getting my nails done, I love shopping and picking out clothes. I get excited about outfits that just work in my mind, that I really love wearing.

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I hadn't begun blogging yet at the time of our conversation, which occurred somewhere around late high school. But I had always enjoyed those girlish activities of getting ready each morning and wearing perfume and wanting to feel pretty each day.
I'm not sure I answered her well, or if I really edified her in that moment. While I can't remember exactly what I said or what "wisdom" I tried to offer, it was probably something along the lines of "I'll take you shopping! I'll show you how fun it is!!!"

This conversation has been something I've thought about often.
I don't think style should be something that's expected or designed to be a certain way, it's just how you express yourself. It's being yourself on purpose. 
I have my own personal thoughts on what that should mean (including a degree of modesty, etc.), but really it's just about being comfortable and free in the way you look. I think the reason why so many women care so much about the way they look is because of the way it makes them feel.
For me, it's a culmination of my creativity. It's an exciting outlet for me. I can attest that many a time people have disagreed heartily with things I choose to wear, certain combinations or prints or what have you. Usually I just go ahead and wear it anyway. Maybe I'll regret it later, but in that moment, it's my work of art and I'll show the world at my own risk.

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It has been exciting for me to see my friend find what things she enjoys over time, things that are personal and creative. Things she never knew she could love. Her hair, her clothes. They're not the end all but they do affect you. Material things and things of beauty do not a life make, but they are a part of living, and can mean so many things. Confidence, expression, creativity, delight, comfort, community.
Finding joy in something as small as a beautiful scarf. For me, these things are wrapped into the moments of friendship that come from chatting at the nail salon, knowing someone's favorite color, treating a friend to their favorite kind of jewelry. Having the smell of my junior high perfume bring swift memories to my mind.
Shopping together at a favorite store, picking out things you love and being excited about a necklace you thought was gone but was still there waiting for you. Being with my mom on long shopping days where we just browse and browse and snack and browse -- finding a prom dress for $40. Feeling like a princess.

These things are important the way a special dessert is important -- the way coffee, birthdays, a favorite book, a pretty painting, a road trip, an inside joke, are all important.
It's intentional, and it's worth it. Caring about the way you look in terms of being healthy and choosing life, choosing to be yourself on purpose. 

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