I was enjoying the rare treat of a coffee and a read of the Sunday paper when my inner peace was disturbed by an article by Claudia Winkleman in which she reals off a list of do’s and don’t’s (actually mainly don’ts!) of what to wear. Although I suspect it was tongue in cheek, I felt myself getting slightly ‘heated’. Never one to take kindly to rules, especially not ones of the fashion variety, I moved away from the paper and on to my phone. Skimming through the headlines I fell upon the furore that is Alexandra Schulman’s bikini selfie which apparently is sufficiently interesting to get the whole world talking.
In an age where we are supposedly liberated, it seems that everyone has a view on what we should and shouldn’t be doing. From bikini to burka, rules unspoken or otherwise, are still imposed on us. By ‘us’ I actually mean women as I have never seen an article telling men how to dress appropriately, what type of shoe might make their ankles look fat, or causing an internet sensation with a photo of their ageing body. Irrespective of expertise and ability, judgments and pronouncements are made on just about everything and technology allows them to be shared at the press of a button. As a result, we are constantly bombarded with all manner of things: what to eat and not to eat, how, when, and how much to exercise, what to wear, which area to live, which car to drive and even where to find the ideal man aka husband…(because life is not worth living without one right…?). All of this has an impact, consciously or subconsciously, on the way women feel about themselves, on their confidence and their self esteem as they struggle to match up to unreal expectations and achieve the unachievable. This needs to change. As women, we need to do what we can to break free from these shackles and instead of living by other people’s rules, we need to set our own.
Sticking for now to the world of fashion, there is no question that understanding your body shape and how to make the very best of it is hugely uplifting, or being able to select a colour that enhances your skin tone and lights up your face is a skill worth developing but it is not the only way. What if you were to choose what to wear purely on the basis of how it made you feel. What if we were able to eliminate from our minds the ‘does my bum look big in this?’ or ‘I’m not sure if this is my colour’ and shop quite simply on the basis of ‘I love this’, ‘I feel fantastic’. That in itself should be enough. Style is about celebrating who you are and not being afraid to express it. Life is about living it on your own terms.
I don’t care what you think of me. I don’t think of you at all. Coco Chanel.
I recently went to a family wedding and hadn’t meant to buy a new dress but happened upon one completely by chance. Not being a colour I would normally choose (and yes there are probably better ones for me) and being made from fabric that does not drape but rather adds bulk, not to mention the fact that it happened to be a scorching 90 degrees when I found myself in Oxford Street, would all normally have conspired to make me walk right on by but something made me try on that dress. And when I did I loved it. The fullness of the fabric did not make me feel larger than I am, it made me feel wonderful. The colour did not lift my face in the way that I know other colours do better, but I loved the pretty, icy tone of pink and felt rejuvenated by wearing something that took me away from the norm. I teemed it with black platform shoes…with an ankle strap…and yes they probably did add a couple of centimetres to my ankles but I really didn’t care. I walked out that day having broken lots of ‘rules’ and yet I felt fabulous.
Life is too short to live by the rules, least of all other people’s. My motto has always been that I live by my own….and if other people want to wear shoes without ankle straps then that’s totally fine by me!