Photo by Shooting Down Pictures.
Having also seen the wonderful Midnight in Paris earlier that day, I couldn’t help drawing a parallel between the theme of the “Golden Age Syndrome” (briefly defined here and applied to Gen-X’s counterculture fascination with all things retro here) in Midnight and Paris and the theme of a happy utopia isolated from the reality of the outside world in Lost Horizon. Both themes offer attractive alternatives to a mundane or potentially threatening present.
And there are beautiful clothes, beautiful men and women.
Image by Sony Classics.
In this YouTube clip from Lost Horizon, you can see Ron Reagan’s first wife Jane Wyatt looking particularly fetching in an oriental-style jump suit with leopard trim at the cuffs and along the peplum hem. Why leave uptopia when you can run around in that outfit and kiss Ronald Colman?
Personal style may express our nostalgia for the past, or our imagination of the future. Think of Star Trek costumes, or even better, a bonafide Devo costume like this one my friend Judy wore to a party in 1983.
What about my own style? I have exactly three retro style goals: 1) shiny red shoes that remind me of Dorothy’s in The Wizard of Oz, 2) leopard print that reminds of glamorous movie stars, and 3) capes that evoke mystery and drama. If I still smoked I would add a long cigarette holder like Diana Vreeland’s.
At Lisa’s suggestion, I checked out Barking Dogs and fell in love with these shoes. I wear an 8 1/2 wide — D width — hence rarely find shoes with style in my size. I’m a one-pair-of-very-dressy shoes kind of gal, and these will be it until they wear out.
They were a teeny bit snug at first. To give them some time to stretch, I decided to set up the new camera tripod and model my hand made leopard scarf with an Eileen Fisher tee recommended by Pseu and the Eileen Fisher pencil skirt. Now I understand why I don’t care for photos of me unless it’s me looking through the lens at my own mirrored image. The person in these shots is not familiar to me. Of course it doesn’t help that both the tee and skirt are too large. I bought Large but am currently between Medium and Large.
In contrast, the person in the following photos is the same person I see when I look in a mirror, the first shot being my best effort to date of modeling the WendyB pose.
Needless to say, the tripod is back in its case, high on a closet shelf.
Brain wiring may help explain challenges in developing a personal style. As a Myers-Briggs ISTJ, I live an interior life. Style, as an expression of social contract, seems to be the natural habitat of extroverts. As Marti Olsen Laney writes in The Introvert Advantage: How to Thrive in an Extrovert World:
“It is important for introverts to know their brain dominance to understand themselves better. I think left-brained introverts may be more comfortable living life as in introvert. They may have fewer social needs, so they may not be as conflicted over spending time alone. Often they are more verbal and logical than right-brained introverts, so they are able to succeed better at school, work, and in meetings.”
I am definitely left-brained. This could explain why, when I first stopped working and wanted to learn some social skills, I didn’t immediately understand why my girlfriends thought it was weird when I said “Oh, if you’re going to shop, I’ll just duck into this cafe for awhile and read.”
This is what I wanted to read.
My friend and neighbor Bob, one of the funniest people I know (I told him he should blog!) predicted several months ago that in true Susan form I would analyze this style angle to death, then ultimately settle on what I was doing in the first place as being perfectly fine.
That’s essentially true, with some caveats. I do make an effort now and I’m having fun with it. I didn’t expect that at all!
Will style will ever be my Shangri-La, my escape from the mundane?
I’m not so sure. For example, every time I try to focus on sewing projects my mind tends to get distracted. But I don’t want to give up.
More on that next post.
See you soon!