That it’s been seven years since I graduated from college seems bizarre to me, mostly because I’ve lived about eleven disparate little lifetimes between then and now.
While much of the last decade, save for the past two years, has metamorphosed into a hazy grey blur during which it’s difficult for me to retain a sense of time passing, I possess an almost photographic memory of the majority of my three year stint at Northeastern University (undergraduate, by the way, was apparently the last time that I opted to be a staunch overachiever).
As a college student, stylistically speaking, I didn’t always love what I saw when I looked in the mirror, but I didn’t hate it either. My good friend, Denise, likes to recall the first time that she saw me on campus, which happened to be while I was getting breakfast in Stetson East – the dining hall that didn’t offer the freshly prepared stir fry but that was home to a decidedly more bright and cheerful overall atmosphere.
She remembers that she thought I was “really pretty,” but that I was also “wearing a power suit to breakfast in the dining hall.”
And, as always, Denise, ever pragmatic and astute, was right.
I would often clad myself in structured single breasted suits and throw on a faux South Sea pearl pastel colored necklace that I had begged my mother to get me in Nantucket two summers before (which is especially bizarre if you know that we’re not even the types of people that take June jaunts to Nantucket — this was a one time, two day affair) — and go catch a quick meal in the dining hall after class, never surmising that my attire was anything other than totally appropriate. That I looked like a forty five year old Wall Street businessman mattered little to me, I liked the way the fabric accentuated my frame and never thought that it might render me as a comical image in someone’s mind a decade later.
I think a fair amount about the fact that I’m probably a seventy-four-year-old woman who is living inside of a twenty-seven-year old’s body. Unsure of what to do with this knowledge, I ruminate over my lifelong obsession with style/appearance and grapple with what all of it really means.
Sometimes, I feel like I’ve waited a long time to be this person, a long time to be independent of my parents (although I love them profusely), and to naturally experience a stylistic evolution that would serve as an homage to who I am as a woman in her late twenties. I don’t have the word for it, but I’ve always had this sneaking suspicion that my true identity was waiting to be found within the fabrics woven into all of the clothing in my closet.
When I was a very young girl, and my mother was an obstinate businesswoman, I remember receiving three pieces of advice from her — avoid polyester, patterns, and vinyl at all costs.
I trusted my mom’s advice because she herself had managed to make the power suit tres chic, ensuring that her wool skirts and silk blouses fit just perfectly in all of the right areas and boasted enough couture detailing to guarantee that they somehow looked substantially more flattering than a bodycon Herve does even while being donned atop the body of a Kate Moss stick (but with with boobs) at a bustling nightclub somewhere below Fourteenth Street.
So, maybe that’s where I took a page out of her book and tried to make it my own.
But it just wasn’t.
Since moving back to New York City two years ago, my style has evolved, it’s matured – and I can’t afford to make the same mistakes that I used to. I want to get it right and I want to show the world (or, at least, my lovely readership base, who I am).
So, I stick to essentials that I can get excited about (and that, in the back of my mind, I’ve always been eager to possess) – cropped pants, a well-fitting denim top, a navy blue sweater, a neutral toned bag, makeup that offers me a glow without suggesting that I’m moonlighting as a drag queen (although, I think that would be fucking fabulous lest their be any doubt in your mind), a white pointed toe flat (my best kept summer secret), light washed denim, etc.
Sometimes it’s Parisian street chic, sometimes it’s Russian glam, sometimes it’s an idea that’s borrowed from my mother and made modern – but mostly, it’s just me.
Life in New York City has taken on a this hazy romance, and I know that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be – and finally, so is my personal style.