Man, it all started with Downton Abbey. And grandmas.
What am I talking about? Style. All the ladies in Downton (even the lower house) got it and grandma's are the best at passing it down. I have learned so much from these two groups of women and they have all convicted me to get my butt in gear (I'm sure neither grandmas nor the ladies of Downton would use the word butt) and get my personal style nailed down.
Because it matters.
For about 7 years now I have run a ministry called Theology of the Body NW - speaking on the dignity of human sexuality, marriage, relationships and all that jazz. I encountered TOB much earlier (college to be exact) and one of the topics I speak on is the dignity and beauty of femininity. Femininity is real. And the devil don't like it.
Because beauty will save the world. Yes, true, humble, feminine beauty has the power to transform hearts and minds and bring people closer to Christ. God created woman, the feminine form, to reflect the beauty of Heaven! When others look at us we are to be a window into the beauty and the splendor of the Heavenly Kingdom! Heavy stuff. Don't believe me? Just look at how women's beauty (and subsequently her body) has been attacked throughout time.
(Now before I go on a disclaimer: when I say "beauty" I'm not just talking about the hair and the nails. I'm talking about the distinct way God created our hearts, our souls, and yes our bodies. The world twists beauty into only an object. Beauty is so much more….)
Women have always struggled with their body image. From corsets and girdles to eating disorders and body dysmorphia women have constantly been made to believe we are not good enough. Heck, even Eve's temptation and subsequent fall in the garden was rooted in the disbelief that she was created perfect just as she was. She felt like she needed more. Something else to make her whole. And oh, how women have suffered greatly from this same battle.
And if the Enemy can't make us believe we suck then he will attempt to make an idol out of the beauty of woman. He will tempt us to place more emphasis than necessary on our looks and how we dress/act/etc etc etc and lead us into vanity. Just look at the Oscars (and every other award show). What does everyone really pay attention to? WHAT SHE's WEARING. The beauty of femininity, but in this case it misses the mark. We are all drawn to the true, good, and beautiful but if we don't have the TRUE and the GOOD part then the BEAUTIFUL is in vain.
So what's the middle ground?
Embracing who we are as women. That's the middle ground. It is loving ourselves for who we are - NOT what we look like or what we can accomplish. How would we love ourselves differently (and how freeing would it be?!) to say, right now, I AM GOOD ENOUGH. Sure, I can strive to be better in this area and that, however I am me, flaws and all.
So this brings me back to why I feel like I need to include "mom style" posts on this blog - and it makes me realize why there is more interest in these kind of posts than, say, the ones where I complain about laundry and poop. (Actually, that does make sense….) As women, we inherently know that how we dress and present ourselves to the world is important. However we also don't want to be vain and portray that we care too much. So we get stuck. And live in sweats.
I bet the women of Downton never owned a pair of such things. Yes, sweats are awesome and I wear them every Sunday from the moment I get home from church to the moment I go to bed. When I first started watching the show, the women of Downton, when they went out in public (even the poorest of them all) wore dresses and hats and their best brooch. Even if all they had was that one dress, they made sure it was the best portrayal of who they were. (Sorry, if you don't know about Downton Abby I can't help you. You must go hide under the rock you came from. Or go watch all 5 seasons because the next one is starting next month. Yessssss.) They embraced their femininity as a beautiful thing and used their personal style as a way of communicating.
Now, I'm not advocating we all go back to brown dresses and pantyhose. (Because I'm actually more of a leather and converse kind of girl.) But we can look to the next group of women I mentioned above to see how we should be dressing: our grandmas.
Quirky or not. Stylish or not. We all have a grandma (or know a grandma) who rocked something awesome. My grandma on my mom's side always wears Clinique and every time I pass that make-up counter I think of her perfume and the way it smelled on their farm in North Dakota. I remember she woke early to "put on her face" before everyone else was up for the day and I never saw her without lipstick. I thought it was silly at the time but now I look back with fond memories and the example of taking care of myself (she passed along all her good skin care tips to my mom and me) and I have my grandma to thank.
My grandma on my dad's side (in Heaven now, miss you grandma) was one of my best friends. She embraced simplicity and minimalism better than anyone I know and she always said that clothes (and all the other stuff) were silly to have in excess. But she was always put together. If she bought one sweater all winter, it was going to be beautiful. Who cares if it was from Costco or BiMart. She wanted a beautiful sweater. And her hair fixed. That teeny tiny little curling iron will forever be etched in my memory and, despite her lessons of frugality, she also passed along lessons of being polished and put together.
So, thank you grandmas.
OK, where does this leave us now, in the 21st century, with 21st fashion to deal with?
Well, first of all, we need to sort through the (fashion) noise and figure out what works for us. I mean, individually, you and me. From our lifestyle (working mom, stay-at-home mom, nursing mom, postpartum mom, non-mom who just wants to look and feel good) to our climate (rainy BOOO, sunny, snowy) to what colors work best with our skin tone, to what just makes us SMILE when we put it on we need to discern what type of clothes are going to work best for our state in life. This totally changes from life season to life season and it isn't discovered overnight and it takes a lot of sorting through Pinterest (and trying stuff on) to figure it out. I'm inching closer to my personal style (my "uniform"of sorts) and will be sharing as time goes on.
In addition to finding our personal style, we also need to take into consideration our budgets, how to shop, the details (like tailoring), seasons of life, what looks good/doesn't look good on our particular body types (I'm an apple), and so on. Again, I'll try to share hints as I post about all this.
And speaking of, I want to assure you that my posts on fashion and style will not be in vain but rather hopefully helpful in discovering how we want to present ourselves to the world. I don't want to become a shopping enabler - making anyone wanting of anything other than what they need. This totally goes against my embracing of minimalism and I promise I won't post clothes and links just to get you to buy things if you promise not to buy things just because I post them.
There, I think that covers it. Hopefully it covers it like high rise jeans and not like low rise ones. Because grandmas, ladies of Downtown, and any other self respecting human/alien/living creature should, can, and will steer clear of those bad boys.
PS: I have lots of style questions in the queue and I cross my heart I'll get to them! Some awesome questions have poured in and keep 'em coming! Not just on style but on anything. Except don't ask me how to change a toddler diaper without swearing. I haven't figured that one out yet.