Every morning as I walk my whippets around the park before I start work, I pass this old pear tree. It’s so old (in Australian terms for a non-native tree) it has a sign with its history. The area I live in used to be orchards and this pear tree was planted in the 1860s and is most likely the only remaining fruiting tree left from this time (there are plenty of pine trees that were planted as windbreaks around the orchards still growing strong).
I love this tree. It’s actually my favourite tree in the park. It has more character than pretty much any other tree in the area. Its trunk is gnarled and knotted and even broken in places, yet it still produces an abundance of beautiful flowers each spring and still fruits each summer. I love the shape of its trunk, it has so much more character than the young pear trees planted along the streets (which are beautiful too, just not in the complex way of this old tree).
What’s it got to do with style? It reminds me, as I travel another year around the sun as my birthday is imminent, that my advancing years don’t define my beauty (even if the mass media is constantly messaging us that only young is beautiful). That there is still so much value and beauty in us as we age and that coming to accept the more wrinkled, grey, and aged version as gorgeous as that smooth and much tauter version of me when I was younger.
Wabi Sabi and Your Style
It’s related to the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi – which is an acceptance of transience and imperfection, celebrating the passage of time and its sublime damages.
In this fast-paced world where we are commonly riddled with stress and an unrealistic pursuit of perfection (which doesn’t actually exist), it’s an elegant philosophy that helps us have a more connected way of living, urging us to search for the beauty in imperfection and accept the natural cycle of life.
Rather than striving for perfection (or the unrealistic and impossible feat of never aging), instead, celebrate the patina of age as it shows you have lived, and experienced many things and contributed and really lived your life. It’s a beautiful way of living that gives you a feeling of grace and calm. It does not mean letting yourself go completely – it’s a striving for excellence, but NOT for perfection (which are two very different things).
It is your imperfections that make you recognisable and beautiful.
Just as the gardeners tend this tree to ensure it remains healthy long into this century, you too can look after yourself, a good diet, regular exercise, and caring about your style as it enhances your self-esteem and confidence.
You can apply this to your clothing, looking after it, repairing it where necessary (just as you can polish your shoes) and letting it go when it’s reached the end of its life in a thoughtful and sustainable way.
By finding your style, one that truly speaks to you and about you, is a way you care for yourself and how you feel each day, putting you in a better frame of mind.
Finding your aesthetic, and finding what is beautiful to you at this stage of your life is something that you do in my new mini-course Visualise Your Style. As I was putting this course together and working through it myself it helped me see much more clearly the path to my style today and where I’m going with it, what I want more of in my wardrobe, what to keep my eyes peeled for (because those pieces aren’t everywhere, they are elusive, but when you understand your aesthetic and your style, you know exactly when you’ve found one). This crane jacket from Biba is an example of my current style direction. I knew when I stumbled across it when I was doing research on garments for a blog post, that it was something that spoke to my style aesthetic. Yet it wasn’t until I started creating my own mood boards when developing Visualise Your Style, I could see just how well it fit into my current aesthetic and the kinds of garments I’d be seeking out in the future.
You are not a static being, you age, grow and change throughout your life and your style needs to change with you. It may not be as shiny and glossy as it once was, but just as the old pear tree even more beautiful as it has aged, so are you, and you deserve to look after yourself and be looked after.
Thank you for this reminder to cherish ourselves as we age. Wabi sabi is a wonderful concept and the world would be a friendlier place if we all learned to look on our fellow humans through this more compassionate lens.