When this photo was taken, Audrey Hepburn was approximately 60 years old. This photo is an example of the natural beauty inherent with aging gracefully.
When was the last time you looked at your underwear? I mean really looked at it? Is it still pretty? Or has it fallen into “serviceable” condition? Or, the worst, the undies that are relegated to princess time so that you won’t worry about damage?
A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one way to seem more glamorous is to only wear beautiful clothes–or, more accurately–that make you feel beautiful. But as our mid-century charm mentor, John Robert Powers reminds us,
To be among the best-dressed, you must also be among the best “underdressed.”
So, as spring cleaning time approaches, I encourage you to include your lingerie drawer on your checklist. Get rid of any undergarments that don’t make you feel fabulous anymore. Your mother told you to always wear clean underwear in case you were in an accident and she is right. But, you deserve better than clean undies that are holey and stretched out. Make every day a “special occasion” and wear your pretty niceties. Just for you!
I love vintage styles. But I don’t wear vintage clothes. And not just because it is hard to find professional-looking clothes in my size range. It’s because true vintage feels costume-like to me. Some women, like my sister, Jill, love that aspect, but it isn’t for me.
Instead, I go for “vintage inspired.” In fact, I am wearing a skirt right now that was inspired by a McCall’s pattern from the 1950s. It reads as a basic pencil skirt but there are no side seams. When I finally got my hands on a copy of the infamous Vogue’s New Book for Better Sewing, I discovered that it, too, featured a skirt without side seams. I’d say I felt a bit smug about it, but our mid-century mentors wouldn’t approve of that type of behavior.
By focusing on vintage inspired, I am able to get to the essence of why I love vintage designs without feeling like I’m in a production of Grease. I’m also able to avoid some of the undesirable attention that some vintage bloggers, like Solanah, have had to contend with from strangers.
People that I know tell me all of the time that they admire my taste in clothing, that I’m glamorous, and they love my classic, feminine, style, that I always look “put together” and professional. They tell me that I remind them of Jackie or Audrey or Grace. I appreciate those compliments because that is the image that I’m trying to convey: a timeless glamour.
So, don’t lament if you can’t find vintage clothing in your size or budget. Instead, focus on the essence of vintage style.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have gobs of money that I can spend on luxury goods so that people will think I’m glamorous. But, as our mentor Virginia Postrel reminds us in The Power of Glamour, true glamour is simply “a life devoid of mediocrity.” Luckily for us, we don’t need to spend gobs of money to project a glamorous image. We just have to avoid “settling” into mediocrity.
Here are five strategies you can do right now to seem more glamorous. Most of them are free. All will elevate your level of confidence–which will make you seem more glamorous.
- Stand up straight –– Yes, pay attention to your posture (especially if you are a bit busty). Midcentury modeling agency and schools icon John Robert Powers tells us in his book, Secrets of Poise, Personality, and Model Beauty, “posture can make or break beauty.”
- Sit like a model — I’ve been practicing sitting like a model for the past several weeks but the real test came last week when I was sitting for hours in a workshop and then sitting for hours in an airport and then sitting for several hours on a plane. I was surprised by how comfortable it is to sit with my legs to the side. I was worried about this position because my feet don’t normally reach the floor when I sit so I end up slouching in the chair. Sitting with my legs to the side, however, enabled me to reach the floor without any problems. And the best part is that I had the added confidence of knowing that I wasn’t accidentally showing off “my good china” for the rest of the world to see.
- Do a few minutes of stretching-type exercises every day — Not only will it help with your posture but it will help with your balance and coordination, too. When your body is limber, you move more gracefully. And you are less likely to, say, fall down a short flight of stairs and end up with a Purple Frodo Foot (trust me, hobbling around on crutches with a swollen foot that is purple from the bruising is not glamour inducing). If you are a member of Amazon Prime, you have an amazing variety of stretching workouts available to you as part of your membership. Or, check out a bunch of DVDs from your library until you find one that is perfect for your level of flexibility.
- Only wear beautiful clothes –– or clothes that make you feel beautiful. Note that this advice isn’t to only wear clothes that are comfortable. Tim Gunn’s Fashion Bible notes the fear of being uncomfortable has been the source of American frumpiness. He proclaims that “the baggy cargo capri is the single worst item of clothing in America today.” Here’s what I have found: I am usually much more comfortable when I’m wearing clothes that make me feel fabulous than I am when I’m wearing “comfort clothes.” It’s a psychological thing. And besides, who says that beautiful clothes are necessarily uncomfortable? It’s time to let go of the myth that beautiful clothes are going to be uncomfortable. As our family friend Mindy says, “Well made and well fitted clothes are more comfortable than baggy clothes. Give me 15 minutes and a tape measurer and I can prove it!!”
- Dress monochromatically whenever possible— If you think about it, Audrey, Grace, Jackie, and Marilyn are dressed in a single color in most of their iconic images. I happen to like black or navy because they showcase my fair skin and blonde hair but many iconic images of Jackie show her wearing bright colors and Grace wore a green suit (with a white blouse) in Rear Window. As long as the color makes you feel beautiful, it doesn’t matter what it is.
Remember, a glamorous life does not require spending a lot of money. It simply means refusing to give in to mediocrity.