Tuesday, January 19, 2010


This morning, Shea (my boss/coworker/partner-in-crime at work) calls me into her office to show me a photo of "who I want to be when I grow up."

Here she is, Iris Apfel, in all her glory:

I love it. Love it!!

I have been thinking about her all day. Just looking at her fabulousness makes me feel frumpy. I look at what I'm wearing today: black pants, black cowboy boots, slouchy black sweater with purple t-shirt underneath, paisley scarf. It's not so bad... but it needs work. I needed a bigger scarf. More jewelry. Different pants. I look tired, frumpy, not put-together.

I love this woman's philosophy: don't be ashamed of your body shape, and don't worry about your age. Just be fabulous (those are my words, not hers, but if you read the article, that's basically what she's saying)

She's not thin and tall and tightened and awful. She's wrinkly and exuberant and joyful and wears kooky huge glasses. She is the antithesis of over-surgerized Hollywood and I love it.

It got me to thinking about my own clothes. My own, natural inclination definitely leans towards the kooky (ask my best friend). If left to my own devices, I will choose bright paisley, bizarre shades of mustard yellow with gold trim, purple velvet. I love vintage clothes, and I don't mind if they are tattered. I love old jewelry and have tons (but not enough).

But what do I wear? Boring, boring, boring. Part of it comes from where I work: it's fairly conservative (not Wall Street, but not exactly artsy-fartsy). I don't have the money to be "well-dressed" (meaning = expensively) so I go for understated, but (hopefully) well-made basics. Which turns out looking incredibly dull. Yawn.

And part of it is that when I moved to California, I got rid of bags and bags of clothes which I'd collected since high school. Thrift-store vintage, costume dresses, tons of jewelry and shoes. Most of it needed to go, but I still think about certain pieces and wish I'd kept them. That red lace 60s dress. That plaid jacket. That gold frilled blouse.

And then part of it is that in the Bay Area, unless you have lots of money and buy a big house, you do not have big closets (generally speaking). So I have been paring down and trimming my wardrobe for the past 10 years until it is now at a pretty bare minimum.

And guess what: I'm not very happy about it.

So this year, I think that I'm going to bring out the few fabulous pieces I do have. The purple velvet jacket which I LOVE but have never worn to work. The satin shirt which I'm always afraid won't 'go'. And then I'm going to dredge up some old habits and when I go to the thrift store, if something looks velvety/shiny/brocaded/fabulous, and I love it, I'm going to buy it. And wear it. If I love it, I will be comfortable. I will find a way to wear that fabulous green Ann Taylor jacket I bought because it looked so good on me, but which I never wear because it feels too stuffy. It needs a pin, a bright blouse, some capri pants and red shoes.

I need a few things in order to make this work (a place to have my jewelry, so I can choose what to wear) and I need to start my thrift shopping again, with an eye for the fabulous. But this year, the year of Just Do It Already, I'm going to try to pull out that 17-year-old girl who loves funky clothes and find a way to make it work as a 35-year-old in an office.


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Michelle Shopped said...

ruth gordon (harold and maude) has always been an inspiration to me, too -- adding iris to the list!

Tammie said...

i used to be way more fabulous and funky. i had hats and wore brightly colored fishnets. now that i think about it, i may have dressed somewhat like a hooker.

but, ive toned it down lately. chinos, jeans and tee shirts. in neutral colors.

ok, i know you're trying to get away from taking reading suggestions from other folks, but you should truly read Eccentric Glamour by Simon Doonan. iris is profiled in the book, along with other kooky and unusual fashion folk. the book can be kinda name-droppy at times and i dont always get some of the older references, but the overall book is fun to read.

Stefanie said...

What fun! I love the fringe on Iris's shirt! I used to love clothes in wild colors and patterns but alas, my wardrobe has become rahter conservative. That's what working in an office will do. It doesn't help that I am now working in a law library at a Catholic university. I need to find a way to liven things up a bit but still look professional. It's possible, right? You're an inspiration Daphne!

Daphne said...

Michelle: her too!

Tammie: ooh, I will check out that book. It sounds exactly like something I'd like to read.

Stefanie: it's sad, right? But we can always brighten things up!