Today Washington USA blogger Dee Dee shares her Stylish Thoughts. Dee Dee writes the blog Decoding Dress: why we wear what we wear.
1. What is the secret to great style? // To me that’s like asking, “What’s the secret to great art?” The secret to great art is creating it. Until the artist picks up a pencil or a brush or a lump of clay, it’s not art; it’s just an idea. From the moment creation begins, though, art exists. And I believe all art is great because its very existence means some person had the courage and audacity to take an idea and make it real.
So much of what we call style is really just rules — rule-setting, rule-keeping, rule-enforcing, people telling other people what’s acceptable or appropriate and what’s not. Art isn’t about rules. It’s about the end of rules. That’s why I never scold my kids for not coloring inside the lines. Creativity is beautiful. I think style is just like this.
2. The one piece of advice most women need but don’t get? // Simply this: whenever possible, wear things that make you truly happy. Dress for you. Dress your bliss.
3. What’s your secret to making yourself stand out? // I try to do just that: I dress my bliss. As a result, I end up wearing a lot of things I’m not supposed to, at least according to other people’s standards. The hemlines I wear tend to be about ten years too short. I was wearing pumps with miniskirts before it was on trend, when everyone was pushing flats and saying heels with that kind of skirt made you look like a tart.
But when I dress my bliss, my bliss shines through the clothes I wear — and true bliss always stands out. You know the way you feel when you put on that special outfit, the one that when you wear it, you just know you can take on the world? I strive to feel that way every single day. I believe it can be done — but I believe the work it takes to get there happens as much inside your own head and heart as it does inside the the walls of a fitting room.
4. Who inspires you? // My daughter has been picking out her own clothes since she was five. The outfits she puts together each day break all the rules, but she has a fabulous, amazing, unique style at ten years old — it’s really incredible. She’s developed an aesthetic all her own and she works it and she’s awesome at it and people notice. I’m jealous of that, her freedom from the baggage I carried around for three decades, the experience of the joy of creation unencumbered by all that weight. That’s the kind of style I aspire to have.
5. What’s the best piece of style wisdom you’ve ever received? // “Know, first, who you are, and then adorn yourself accordingly.” The Greek Stoic philosopher Epictetus (55-135 C.E.) said these words. While I’m anything but a Stoic, I think Epictetus was on to something here.
I think he was on to something with his ideas about suffering too. He taught that human suffering arises from trying to control what we can’t control, or from neglecting what we can. Do you see the connection to personal style? You can control what you put on your body. You can’t control how other people respond to it. So if you want to avoid suffering focus on the former and, as much as you can, ignore the latter. While that’s only possible in degrees — we’re each belong to a mesh of interconnected social units and social norms about dress affect us all — I think there’s great happiness to be found in maximizing your freedom here.
6. What is your current obsession? // The color orange! I’m an autumn girl from way back — and with the long, hot summer we’ve had in DC I’m doing everything I can to bring on the cool, crisp, colorful days of fall. I’m hoping that by looking like a pretty orange leaf showing off on the branch before my final glorious plunge, maybe I’ll coax all the other leaves into doing the same. Want to join me?
I have been following Dee Dee for a while, and I am impressed with her thoughtful and considered views on style. Her reflections prompt me to look more closely at my own relationship to fashion – it’s great to see her featured here.