What’s your style?

I’ve always admired fashion. Discovering the unexpected. Quite frankly, a good hunt. From gluing hundreds of glittery rhinestones on my prom shoes to scouring pages of fashion magazines in order to pull together outfits that were uniquely me. Lately, however, I’ve found myself in a bit of a fashion lull. With hem lines and heel heights changing like the weather, free time topping this season’s most wanted list, and my focus forever shifting from outside in, I’m wading in uncharted style waters, even occasionally wondering what is the point. Wow, did the earth just move? So when I received an invite to a spring runway show in New York I felt conflicted. Confused. Weighing whether or not this boondoggle was worth sacrificing my creative acai-ginger juice. Then, I heard the call. An annoying internal voice well versed at echoing words I commonly share with others. Take your own advice. The two-cents’ inner hall monitor chimed. All things happen for a reason. Don’t miss an opportunity to get information. Great. Shamed in my own head. With no choice but to  embark on a discovery mission, I put on some make up and packed an overnight bag.

Less than twenty four hours on the ground in the Big Apple and I’d succumbed to the city wide buzz. The pressing question–Girl, what’s your personal style? Boho, rocker, retro, or the ever popular city chic? Armed with my snakeskin hand bag and a bucket hat, I threw my purse over a shoulder, lowered the flimsy brim just above my eyes and climbed the Lincoln Center Theater’s concrete steps.

Inside the venue, television crews chased celebrities desperate to get the jump on which of  the spring 2014 trends would make the cut. Being an analytical animal at heart, I had to fight the urge to throw a hand in the air and shout, “What exactly do you mean by style? Outfits I wear around the house or when I’m out having fun? Are the above categories the only choices? Do I have to pick just one?” Luckily, my social filter was on and fully functioning. I resisted the urge to corner some fashionista and inflict what would most likely be an amateur inquisition. As the crowd gathered in the lobby, I glanced around at hundreds of well put together guests who appeared to have finished their en vogue homework. I’m definitely behind the fabric curve.  

Inside the theater music thumped, hundreds of spot lights burned, dotting the runway–   A thirty-foot gang plank painted black. Event organizers ushered us past a row of known chic trailblazers, sat front and center, and then escorted my friend and I to our assigned seats. With a clear view to the catwalk, I watched as the lights dimmed, music softened and when the crowd finally settled a baritone voice boomed over the mega speakers. “Welcome,” he rumbled like thunder. On cue the techno groove resumed and waifey-thin models marched methodically in time with the beat.

The entire show lasted for about fifteen minutes. Basically a blur. Was a quarter hour the going time to select style initiatives?  I gripped my bare legs feeling the onset of an apparel anxiety attack. After one last lap around the raised cat track, the models disappeared behind the designer’s logo and the stage was once again black.

Collapsing in my seat, I surveyed my jean shorts, laser cut suede booties topped by an off white, hip-length tuxedo jacket. Hung back and watched as a thousand attendees rushed from the room likely hurrying to catch the next fashion blip. And when the pavilion was nearly empty, I remained steadfast in my assigned seat. Quiet as my mind slowly uncluttered. Within a few minutes I had all the answers.

Yes, yes, no…never really dressed retro, but absolutely had pieces in my closet that fall inline with city chic. But what does this hodgepodge say about “my personal style?” Fortuitously, the theater spots lit full bright. Shinning on top of my head like an epiphany light bulb. Absolutely nothing. I laughed out loud and couldn’t help but envision pigs rolling in the mud. Yes, playful pink pork bellies wiggling on their backs. (Stay with me and no, I haven’t gone completely nuts.) Hogs immerse themselves in the muck to be comfortable and stay cool. Sensible and functional. The imaginary three-way bulb overhead clicked one notch brighter. Seemingly unconcerned about what other farm animals might be wearing next spring. Do whatever feels right in the moment.

Point being my life requires all kinds of styles or none at all depending how you come at it. Somedays require waders, denim, steel toe boots, work gloves and wicking fabrics. Others, big hair, long flowing gowns, tailored suits and floppy sun hats. My vogue hinges on what I’ve picked to do for the day. Every get-up radically different but equally me given each individual circumstance. Function drives the fashion.  An ah-ha fist knocks my forehead. Not the other way around. I climbed to my feet confidently, now aware of how to categorize my style. Chameleon.

E.L. Chappel author of Risk/Spirit Dance/Storm Chasers

Climbing out of the box, again.

aka The Glamorous Wife

Leave a Comment