- Do you think beauty can change the world?
- If you do, are you willing to be part of that change?
It is good that there is beauty in this world.
I was admiring a picture of a stained-glass room this morning. Absolutely stunning.
I don’t need to own that room to receive value from it. I can know that it exists. I can see it.. maybe one day in person. It pleases me, to know that someone has made this beauty.
Beauty is worthy. It is, all by itself. When we create beauty, we do good. When we participate in beauty, we contribute.
I believe that the world at large has lost this truth, that everyone has the opportunity to participate in beauty. They think they don’t have the capability, or that they don’t need to come alongside, because others can carry the weight. Or they simply don’t see the importance, because they so seldom see any kind of beauty-in-human-form outside the silver screen. But no one is simply an observer in life. One participates.
Perhaps they see themselves and don’t understand that there is more than one kind of beauty. It is not only stained glass patios that stun me. The majestic redwoods and rugged cliffs of the Lost Coast do the same. And what of a congregation, dressed in Easter finery? Can you say that this is not beauty?
Every day, we make a choice. We choose to make beauty or not.
What do you choose, today?
Coming soon… my new book, “Beauty Destroys the Beast” – if you liked this blog, you’ll love the book. Sometimes we all need to get a little “why” to help us start moving towards the “what”.
You just can’t dress too much like yourself. Oh sure. Situations. But … even so. You should always look like YOU in those situations, whatever they are.
I worry often about dressing just … too too. Too too sweet – am I becoming mutton dressing as lamb? Too too bohemian… do I look like I’m wearing a costume? But when I get compliments, that’s how I’m dressed. Not sensibly. Nope. Utterly insensibly like myself.
My two dearest friends could not look more unlike. One of them is tall and slender, and she looks amazing the more dystopian and punk she dresses. I have – no joke – seen her rake in compliments dressed in a plain black dress that she’d slept in the night before! (Do not try this at home). She currently has one side of her glorious mop of red curls shaved… and it made her look more like herself than ever. I keep trying to convince her to wear woad stripes.
The other friend has the delicate coloring of a Waterhouse mermaid – but her personal style runs classic Americana. A classic pair of boot-cut jeans, solid shoes and a tasteful sweater? Her grin stretches from ear to ear, she relaxes, and so do you. Calvin Klein is her designer of choice, and (her shades of ) red, white and blue are always favorites.
Do you have any idea how horrible I look in a plain black t-shirt dress? I assure you, if I were to wear one, you’d try to hospitalize me, not compliment me. And while my bestie can rock a sailor blouse, it’s too blocky and formal for me.
We are not meant to dress the same way. Praise the Lord, it is no longer 1970, and there is no reason to protest a department store because you hate the new hemline. You have freedom of choice! Yes. Styles go in and out, but there is so much leeway now – you can feel free to dress in the clothes that look best on you and not give a hang about what the latest trend might happen to be.
Yes, of course we have situational rules of dress. My dystopian friend should probably not wear distressed t-shirts to an office job (if one can imagine her in such a prison), but she certainly could dress like her version of David Bowie and be both appropriate and fabulous. My mermaid hates getting dressed up these days, but if she does – it’s not in five yards of lace. It’s more likely to be something understated and elegant.
Dress like YOURSELF. If it’s like you – the real you – do it. Take a chance. Push the envelope. See how it feels.
You only look like you’re wearing a costume when you’re trying to be someone you are not.
Successful hunt: Eshakti online. I’ve ordered two more dresses, having added a couple of inches to my shoulder-to-waist measurement, and they’re lovely. A great deal. You MUST know your colors and style lines to make this work – but if you do, you’ll have a good time. (Watch thy fabric content). Note: Necklines, hemlines, sleeves are usually changeable on their designs – so if you like something but wish it came a foot shorter/longer or wish it covered a bit more territory up top? Doable. Takes a couple of weeks to arrive. This is not Amazon. Price point? Entirely reasonable. I’m spending what I would normally spend on fabric and notions to make myself comparable clothing.
Continuing adventures: As an aesthete, I’m all about the full effect of my presentation, very much including how I smell. Unfortunately, regular perfumes and my body chemistry don’t get on. I’ve been searching for a signature fragrance for years. I’ve found a few almost-rans, but nothing that I fell in love with. And the esoteric scents that I love tend to be very difficult to sample – and sample I must.
I’ve been doing business off and on with BPAL, but they’ve gotten a bit *much* with the branding. And it takes a long time to get samples… one is never quite sure what you’re going to end up with. I loved one of the random samples they sent me (Paris), it’s darling – and it disappears in an hour. -sigh- But that was enough to send me on the hunt. Online, natch.
I found a new shop, loaded up my cart with $6 perfume samples (that’s about the standard price point for a sample vial in my experience), and am anxious to let you all know of a new source for perfumes. They have a million options on that site… hopefully I will fall in love. (Stay tuned).
I was bummed to find that Wintersilks has discontinued most of their daytime clothing, although I recommend them as a source for real silk underthings and nighties. Silk, if you are unaware, is a magnificent insulator. Well, stick to your strength – always a good move for any retailer.
Etsy is a marvelous place to get leather goods. Again – buyer be aware. One must examine the pictures closely and read the details. I just scored two vintage leather belts, and I spent no more than I’d have spent on pleather in the mall. They’re beautiful belts, and appear to have been barely worn.
Shopping online success? KNOW your colors and stick to them. KNOW your fabrics, or you’ll end up with trash. If it’s too cheap to be believed, … it is. KNOW your style lines and stay close. Online clothes shopping isn’t a good place to take chances, unless you’re really willing to send things back en masse – I hear this is popular, but I don’t have time for that nonsense. The dressing room remains the place to try wild new things – you should! – not the computer screen. (Call me old-fashioned if you will – I take it as a compliment). Utilize online review sites that aren’t the website itself if at all possible – the website can edit its reviews.
One of the banes of modern shopping existence is the difficulty of the hunt. The standard mall stores are progressively less imaginative and less stylish, with progressively lower quality garments. Online retailers are everywhere – but what’s a girl to do if she’s not a standard size? Sending piles of clothing back is just a pain in the behind.
Enter Eshakti. They offer custom-fit clothing with a wide variety of options. You start with one of their pre-designed dresses and then for a $10 fee, you can change the hemline, neckline, and sleeve. Included in that $10 fee is custom fitting – so you can have your dress made to measure.
I am very hard to fit, and I’m not the only one out there with Fit Issues. So the idea of having someone not-me make a dress for me was very tempting! But I don’t trust easily, so I kept my bets minimal. I knew if this dress wasn’t quite right I could repurpose it.
Here’s the dress as it appears on the Eshakti site:
I opted for the just-above-knee length, and a keyhole neckline. I submitted my detailed measurements, and this is what I got:
It is surprisingly difficult to take a picture of a navy dress indoors… but suffice to say that my 5’2″ self has a dress that fits nicely through the bust, the waist, with a perfect armlength and hem. I knew going in that the fabric was poly/spandex, which is possibly my least favorite fabric. But I wanted velvet for my husband. It’s a nice weight – I will be quite warm in this dress, it’s definitely *winter only*. (I live in SoCal, you could wear this in Spring/Fall elsewhere).
The only odd thing is what I noticed when I checked other gal’s reviews of Eshakti – the waist is high, even though I submitted a shoulder-to-waist measurement. No worries – the back waist is also elasticated, and there’s not a ton of difference in my waist and lower-rib measurements. Next time I order, I’ll add a couple of inches to that measurement.
I also decided to purchase a blouse from their “ready made” section. Although I generally buy a size 14, the measurements put me in a size 16. I was surprised to pull this blouse on and find that it fits beautifully. Dark navy is a bit dark on me, but I’ll get plenty of wear out of this – eyelet cotton blouses are a basic in my wardrobe.
Fabric here is a nice cotton, good weight – and it unexpectedly came with a woven cotton tanktop in a lighter navy which also fit perfectly. I’m sure it’s going to get worn under other garments!
My only beef was the amount of time this took – which is a silly first world complaint. This is made in India, and I got in in a couple of weeks. Custom clothing. I should complain? Well. So you know – you’re not getting this overnight.
In sum: Worth the money, especially as I had an introductory sales price. (I hear that they often offer sales). Add shoulder-to-waist length for custom made articles. Be mindful of what you’re getting and know your proportions, and this is a good place to get some interesting clothing.
This post is in no way sponsored by Eshakti – it’s sponsored by my belief that we need more sensible shopping options!
We can’t get away from her.
The woman in the mirror.
She tells us the brutal truth about our priorities, past and present. She tells us things about our history. Our moods. Our coping mechanisms.
And every time you catch her eye, she asks you, “why do you make me carry this mess?”
The pain of disconnect, the disharmony between the woman in the soul and the woman in the mirror, the screeching discord that will not let up… it doesn’t leave you. It never leaves you. Not until you DO something about it. And even then… you have to finish what you start.
You bear the weight of that disharmony until you match the woman inside with the woman outside.
You bear that weight until you put the clothes on that work for you. Until you fix your hair. Until you finally get to the gym.
And the weight costs you productivity. It costs you confidence. It costs you time. It costs you tears.
You know who you are.
Are you willing to reveal the truth?
One of the blockades inside of the mind of every woman who is embarking on the journey of personal improvement is, “why bother”?
So – why do you bother dressing intentionally for work, when the dress code is business casual, and no one cares?
Why do you bother putting on makeup, when you work in a call center – no one even sees you?
Why do you bother accessorizing – it’s just “extra stuff”.
Because visual representations affect mental impressions. “Oh, but I won’t be meeting anyone important today”.
Well. Maybe so. Maybe no. But I did not say, “affect OTHER PEOPLE’S impressions”. I said it affected mental impressions. It affects how you think of yourself. And after a lifetime of not taking care of these things, or hiding behind misrepresentations, it takes more than one day and one good outfit to get you sorted.
The point of makeup and hair and clothes is to reveal the you inside the flesh shell.
If you only get pretty occasionally – you tell the world (and the woman in the mirror) that being pretty is something you are only worthy of when you’re going somewhere special. You tell the people you interact with that they’re not worth the bother. You tell yourself that you’re not worth the bother.
If you get pretty, but you get fake – same thing. You’re just hiding.
It’s hard to look like your inside self, because then the world can see you. And maybe you’re not ready to be seen. It is frightening. But so what? You will never accomplish what you’re meant to accomplish in life if you don’t allow yourself that first step – the first step of being visible.
Being visible to yourself. Being visible to others.
No, getting pretty isn’t the most important thing. But it is a first step that almost no one can skip, if they’re serious about inhabiting the change that they crave.
Your workout clothing, like everything else you wear in life, should fit the person you are and the function you’re pursuing. But since working out is seldom a professional pursuit, you can have a bit more fun, turn the personality up to 11.
I lift weights.
This is what I look like after a good workout:
I don’t want to wear expensive clothes. I’m not thin enough to wear tight clothes and feel comfortable – and anyway, I use my t-shirt as a towel fairly often. I’ve found out through trial-and-error that my best outfit is a pair of tight pants and a t-shirt – or a tank, in the summertime (they don’t air-condition crossfit boxes).
So what am I going to wear?
I’m going to wear a t-shirt that I’d never get otherwise (I’m not a t-shirt person) and I’m going to have some fun. I hit the Black Friday online sales, and scored:
They’re my colors.
They weren’t expensive (I’m not sure where the black marks come from, but all my shirts look like I do mechanic work after a few gym sessions).
They give me energy and a smile – excellent things to wear at any time, especially when you’re working out.
What do you wear to the gym?
As someone who enjoys a bohemian/romantic personal style, I’m all about the jewelry. How do I find those pieces that stop traffic and get compliments without breaking the bank?
I spend a fun afternoon going to the gem faire, am a regular at street fairs, and never miss checking out the booths at my county fair’s gem show.
All of these items were found at gem fairs, and most of my not-husband-purchased jewelry was too.
Most of us enjoy a good shopping experience, and let’s face it – the mall is boring or overpriced or both. These goodies are gorgeous, they’re real – and they were inexpensive.
In addition, I do a ton of Christmas and birthday shopping at these spots. Yes, today was a day of Christmas shopping. I hate waiting until the last moment! Generally speaking, such fairs don’t only have jewelry/gems/beads – they also have some garments and lots of items of interest, like fossils and geodes and the like.
If you want to get one-of-a-kind items, you have to get off the beaten path. Try a gem faire! You won’t be disappointed.
How do you upgrade your daily look? Transfer your regular knit shirt to a blouse.
The photo below serves as a comparison… Both tops are long-sleeved, in the same color family, have similar necklines – but one is knit, and one is woven. One is basic cotton, and the other has a slight sheen.
There’s nothing wrong with the knit shirt on the left. I wear it to the grocery store, to the home-improvement store, to do errands. But there’s no upgrading it. The shirt on the right can run errands and it can also go out with my husband on date night. Because it’s a woven, because of the materials used, it can be paired with a skirt or pair of slacks and head to the office. When you’re ready to upgrade your look, it becomes time to add some woven items to the mix, not stick totally with knits.
A blouse will translate easily between dressy casual and work-appropriate, so it’s a utility infielder in your closet. Change the jeans to slacks or a skirt, depending on how formal your work environment and your personal style needs. Perhaps add a blazer. Done.
Going out to eat with your friends, heading to a birthday party, attending a casual church – “dressy casual” is where it’s at, and the easiest way to hit dressy casual is to wear a blouse. You look appropriate when you’re running through the market or meeting your kids’ teacher, and a change in jewelry and shoes upgrades your look to most evening occasions.*
What’s the most useful of all tops? A white** shirt***. A white shirt is a tabula rasa – especially with jeans. You can make this into anything you desire by changing up your accessories.
Goal: Pulled together, fitting in, looking like what’s expected +1? CHECK. The only downside to a white blouse is that you’re going to wear the poor thing to shreds – and stains. It’s never a bad thing to keep your eyes out for an extra white blouse. You’ll use it.
Blouses are also great statement pieces. If you find a blouse that suits your style, snag it. You could become known for that one look… that vibe that says YOU, no matter what you pair it with. Interesting sleeve treatments and long sleeves are on-trend – feel free to break loose of the everyday and show who you really are.
Woven blouses always look more pulled together, more finished, more adult, than a comparable knit top. It’s worth your while to start adding them to your wardrobe, because they allow you to get maximum interest from a minimum of clothing. And isn’t that what we all want?
If you’d like help figuring out what blouse style would fit best in your life? Drop me a line and we can work together. firstname.lastname@example.org
*Location, location, location – SoCal, where I live, is very casual – great denim + cool blouse + accessories on point = dressy casual. Your mileage may vary – you might want to pair that cool blouse with an elegant pair of slacks if you’re in a more formal area.
**White always refers to your best shade of white.
*** I am using the words “blouse” and “shirt” somewhat interchangeably throughout this post. Technically, a blouse is a garment only worn by women, and a shirt is more androgynous in style. If your husband could wear it, it’s a shirt (eg buttondown). If not, then it’s a blouse. A blouse is slightly more formal. For this post, the difference is irrelevant.