Style is a simple way

I’ve noticed that the mere utterance of the word fashion can act as a rage inducing trigger for some, who seem to believe that the “f bomb” is synonymous with nothing more than a fusion of scarily skinny people, materialism and the propagation of a culture obsessed with the (unfortunately) non-existent fountain of youth.  When I first started NoteBrooke, for instance, there were those individuals who didn’t quite… get it, dismissing the entire effort as a gross method of self-promotion, a forum in which I was, for some unknown but inevitably sinister reason, posting pictures of myself bopping around the Upper East Side in designer clothes, hair side swept and blowing in unison with each subsequent click click of the camera.

While I wouldn’t agree that my fashion based blog serves as a method of self-promotion, I do think it can aptly be regarded as an experiment in self-discovery.  Two summers ago, I found myself in a Paris hotel room breathing into a brown paper bag while assuming the proverbial fetal position on the floor, worried about absolutely nothing and everything all at the same time.  Can you say panic attack?  Turns out everything bad thing that I’d ever experienced, feared and subsequently tried to suppress decided to re-emerge, in the way that it always does — rather inconveniently — smack dab in the middle of what should have been a lovely summer hiatus in Europe.

While my biggest concern ought to have been what bistro to dine at that day, or perhaps, facilitating transportation to Versailles, it was instead, let’s just say, a period of great personal confusion and anxiety. That trip included a lot of suffering, sleepless nights, and irrational worry; I would soon learn that it was only the preamble to what became a major period of awakening in my life.  I’ll spare you the subsequent transcriptions of discussions with my shrink (I mean, hey, I’m putting it ll out there anyway) or the details of the many desperate transatlantic phone calls with her at all hours of the day/night, but it suffices to say that I had a lot of self-discovery to do and even more major life decisions to make thereafter.

So, okay, maybe you haven’t had a complete mental breakdown on the floor of a hotel room in Paris, while your fiancé looked on as if you were the glass menagerie – ready to shatter into bits at any given moment, but each of us, at some point or another, really should engage in a little self exploration, if not just for the sake of realizing some measure of personal growth and evolution.  Amanda Brooks, who penned the style guide, “I <3 Your Style,” suggests that personal style is about discovering oneself, and that, “There’s a lot of room for experimentation along the way, but arriving at a strong sense of style that suits you and makes you feel great every day and everywhere depends on confidently knowing who you are and what’s important to you.”

Knowing who you are and what’s important to you AND consistently feeling great about it? That’s major. I do believe that true style is the physical embodiment of this very concept.  After initially reading this quote, I wanted to megaphone a resounding

“Thank you” to Amanda for verbalizing what I’ve been feeling for years every single time I buttoned up my blouse and slipped into a pointed toe pump. The recognition of this notion prompted my fashion related ah-ha moment, which is to say that I realized it’s not all just a series of superficial expenditures. It’s a turtle and her shell, two entities that work harmoniously together to create a physical reverberation of an intimate story — a labyrinth of experiences, ideas, beliefs and ideals that ultimately comprise the identity of an individual.

That’s one of the reasons why I do take fashion so seriously – because I believe that it can serve as a reflection of one’s own unique story and personal evolution.  It’s the no two snowflakes are quite the same mentality. Pictured above, you’ll find a quintessentially pieced together “Brooke” outfit, meaning something that’s comprised of my go to, play it safe staples. The first adjectives that come to mind in describing the look are formal, minimalist, understated, hushed. In the past, I’ve mostly gravitated towards outfits that I would categorize as being “dependable.” And, that’s fine.  Everyone has a launch point, and a style identity, in the same way that everyone possesses a sense of unique individuality.  In more recent times, though, and yes, specifically since that crazy with a capital C summer in Paris, I’ve been strongly drawn towards the enigmatic, and with a strong compulsion to the be more fresh, open, creative, and daring, I’ve yearned to reflect my evolution in the way that I’m dressed.

Cue the introduction of the leopard scarf.  It may be a small step, one that some will inevitably find comical in the context of a post focused on life altering moments and a thirst for change, but sometimes, real change needs to start out slowly and work from the ground up.  I’ve learned that by setting out with my own set of reliable fundamentals, and then shaking them up a bit, making sure to get out of my comfort zone, I can create a style that’s true to who I am but that also incorporates new, and sometimes even, trendy, options that I would never have bothered to seek out formerly.

That’s what this outfit represents; that’s what it all means.  It’s a nod to some of my original style muses– Audrey, Olivia, and my mother, but ultimately, it’s a wide stride towards the unknown.  Contained in the finely woven fibers of a pair of jeggings, a silk blouse and blazer — and perhaps most notably, in an animal print accessory, you’ll find a story, based on years of experiences, interactions, mistakes, successes, lessons, travels, relationships – and that’s why fashion is not just a superficial hobby, but instead, it’s a challenge of sorts, an ode to self discovery and purpose.

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