Slapped Style-less in Seattle

You can imagine, I was looking forward to my trip to Seattle, using airports as my personal social petri-dish. Excited for the first in many planned opportunities to gain creative perspective.

Only the perspective I glimpsed wasn’t flattering. It smacked me in the face hard, laughed, and walked away.

Let me start by telling you, this is not an issue of vanity. Consider it instead an issue of maybe self-value, definitely self-awareness. Really it’s about being all of me and not merely one of my life roles …

I never considered myself frumpy (dare I make an Ugly Betty reference here), but I wasn’t haute couture either. I wasn’t a fashionista or a trendsetter but I would have called myself stylish.

I liked what I liked and stayed in tune with the what’s-hot-what’s-not type of lists, you can find in magazines like Glamour and IN Style, to avoid embarrassing myself much.

People who knew me in my formative years, could probably pick things out and say, “This is something Gail would wear.” I had my favorites within every trend. My style was definitive.

Post kids I said, I wouldn’t be one of “those” women who “let herself go” because their role in life evolved and they added a new title to their resume: mom.

SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

The truth is I’m a little less Gail-tastic and a lot more Ugly Betty (this is the best place for this reference). I did the very thing I said I wouldn’t do. I became one of “those” women.

While I still frequent the salon for my hair and nails, leave the house wearing makeup and give off the air of being put together, my wardrobe is lacking.

Here’s what happened in Seattle … I walked through a high-end department store watching my colleague shop and thinking: “I don’t get these trends,” and “I wouldn’t be caught dead in that.”

SLAP!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

As I touched various items: dresses and skirts, shorts and shoes, scarves and necklaces, I realized I have NO style. Style-less in Seattle.

Strolling through the women’s department, with a dismissive attitude, I systematically wrote off every option. I mean we’re back to parachute pants?

Okay, I found a few things I liked: grey cardigan, kelly-green scarf with bright yellow polka dots, and a hot pink D&G trench coat (not an ensemble people, individual items to weave into my wardrobe). All of which were left adorning their chrome racks.

I was too shocked to impulse buy and sensible enough to forego the buyer’s remorse.

My closet can be divided into two categories: work and not work; nothing in between, neither of which is inspired or gives the sense of “who is Gail Hanson?” and if it does I’m afraid of what story it’s telling.

SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

When did this migration from bright creative frippery to functional clothing happen?

Even my shoe lust waned. I started looking for comfortable shoes rather than the type of shoes that aren’t for walking but for showcasing with crossed legs or ankles?

I guess partly, in a world open toed shoes, which I can no longer wear, it’s hard to find a cute closed toe high heel. Shoe shopping is less fun when your options are limited to a quarter of the available selection. But I digress.

Maybe the migration can be attributed to the yo-yo 20 pounds I drop and gain annually. Regardless, my style revelation mortified me.

DOUBLE SMACK!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

I need an intervention. I am that mom.

Why did What Not To Wear have to choose 2013 as the year to call it quits. I need Stacy and Clinton’s help, desperately. What are their style rules again?

  • Fit the body you have now.
  • Shine, texture, pattern, color.

Dramatic, but I was freaked out to recognize my wardrobe is “safe”. Where were the iconic colors and silhouettes of a daring, zealous woman with wildly imaginative streak?

I said this wasn’t about vanity and it’s not, please understand … There was a time when appearance was priority and I measured all aspects of life by outer beauty, the objects I could put on to mask the virtues I lacked.

In my teens, I wanted to be with the “pretty people”, perfectly coiffed, polished and poised, wearing the latest and greatest, so that everyone would know I was somebody.

A poor measure but often in our teens we want to fit in and to be popular. We don’t want to be laughed at or mocked, our self-esteem wrapped up in the way we look. Appearance gave us a false sense of control.

Shallow and ignorant. I didn’t just want to be with the “pretty people”, I wanted to be one. Sad, I know, judging a book by the cover (I had to have a bookish reference). I was in my twenties when I learned that true beauty comes from the inside out; that the dust cover is a mirror image of what’s inside.

BACK-HANDED SLAP!

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

© 2014 the Jotter’s Joint

Yet, I’m real enough to know that our culture, our world values beauty. It’s an extension of high school that I didn’t anticipate. I acknowledge that to be relevant my style matters.

Although I’ve come back from Seattle a little bruised and battered, I also come back aware. Aware that my style needs an upgrade but it can be unique and trend breaking and appealing.

I need a revival. My style should be reflective of the artsy, bolder, wiser, and sassier self.

*HAND TO FOREHEAD, AH-HA MOMENT*

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We All Have Baggage

“Cute bag!”

I love hearing that. It always makes me smile. Don’t you love it when someone says it to you?

I make sure I give the same compliment to others when I spy a beautiful bag. Beautiful color. Beautiful style. Perfect size. A cute bag makes me feel special as does the positive attention that may come with it.

Regardless of how cute a bag is, I always wonder what are they carrying in there? I’m completely curious. I know what I carry around. I know what I can’t be without. However, there is this mystery of what’s in the stylish bag of the person standing next to me. There is a sense of intrigue about the designer bag in the hand of the person walking in front of me, or passing me in the hall.

It’s like the Capital One credit card ad campaigns:  What’s in Your Wallet?

Anyway … I want to know what’s in the big and bold or the small and stately bag just as Capital One wants to know what’s in your wallet. Especially if the bag is small because I don’t understand how someone can live in a bag that’s only big enough to hold cash or lipstick.

So what do I tote around in my bag? The usual or what I think that every woman would take with them:

  • Wallet
  • Planner (may need to consult my schedule)
  • Phone (2 of them … one for work and one personal)
  • Make up bag (might need to freshen up)
  • Comb
  • Digital Recorder (inspiration sometimes strikes in places where paper and pen won’t do)
  • Pens (at least 10, maybe more)
  • Stationery (just in case I have time to jot a note)
  • Notebook (because my planner isn’t for everything)
  • Hat (need to be prepared for rain or snow)
  • Vitamins (for continued hair growth)
  • Sunglasses
  • Gum / mints

Okay, I take an “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to bags and that is not all that I carry. Sadly, my handbag is heavier than I’d like to admit. Still, I can’t help but drag these things around with me. Lug may be a better word for it.

Oh and don’t forget about the multiple bag effect either. You know it and have witnessed it:  the person who has a handbag, computer bag, lunch bag, shopping bag, or plastic grocery store bag (pick a combination). As a culture we keep spreading out, building bigger homes to accommodate the amount of stuff we have. Yet, it’s not enough. We feel the need to take it with us where ever we go. We all have baggage.

And now in the age of the man-bag and messenger bags… curiosity increases. What do men need to carry around with them? Their keys and wallets or their phones? An iPad or eReader?

Consider me inquisitive. Call me a busybody but I am dying to know … what’s your baggage?