Signatures: I see the classic and I raise you one

Just read Nina Garcia's "Little Black Book of Style", attracted by Reuben Toledo's illustrations and the Amazon blurb. Deeply disappointing.

I won't waste electrons castigating this unedifying, clunky book. My copines in the style blog world are posting more nuanced material every day... so read them!

Garcia lists ten style essentials that include the Little Black Dress, the trench coat, the white shirt, the mans' watch, the jean- perhaps useful counsel if you're fifteen, but nothing new or even well-said here.

Once you've done a bit of living, you own (and have replenished) these essentials and are loo
king for more deeply-considered perspective. Signatures, not standards.

My aunt Magdalen wore Seaman Schepps "Night and Day" seashell earrings (left) with everything, her white up-do floating like a meringue above them.

Style signatures I've admired:
- Rosalind's armful of bangles

- Mhendi tattoos on Anita's feet

- Denis' Breton sailor shirts

- Lenora's collection of cats' eye glasses

- Clare's exquisite Indian necklaces, piled on

- Christi
ne's Opium fragrance ("It's not supposed to work on a blonde", she says, "but it does.")

- Daniele's antique hatpins, worn on her beret

This is the difference between a woman who wears the eternal basics, and the one who ventures a signature.

She may wear the white shirt, black pant, ballerina flat... but she enters, smiles into your eyes, offers something to remember her by.

What style signatures are memorable to you?


Anonymous said…
I've tried those lists of 'classics' in the past, but they are definitely not for me. I have an American girlfriend, tall, slim, good looking, who really carries off the classics well. Put me in the same clothes and not only do I put on 10 years but I actually feel physically ill from the ordinariness of the reflection in the mirror - I do not recognize myself at all.

My list of signatures is endless and too personal to be of interest to you - but they are there and are very important to me.
Duchesse said…
Oh GP! Would you be willing to share a few?

The "too personal" part stimulates my imagination: hmmm....corsets?
Anonymous said…
Sorry duchesse, I didn't mean to fire your imagination, just didn't think my personal list would mean anything to anyone else. But here are a few that you may know:

Diana Vreeland's ivory bangles

Marta Marzotto's kaftans

Edith Sitwell's amazing rings, nails and arm jewellery

Angela Pintaldi's jewellery and use of colour

Sylvie Guillem's hair (style and colour)

These are all highly creative women who would laugh in the face of 'classics'. I join them in this.
Susan B said…
I share your opinion of this over-hyped book. I'm also hestitant to take style advice as gospel from someone who grew up in a household where Mama's dressmaker visits weekly. I've yet to find a "little black dress" that works for me, and have yet to miss a function because I didn't have one. Here are some of my signature pieces:

1. Simple gold hoop earrings. I'm out of my sparkly/dangly phase right now, and have never been a diamond stud person.

2. Jackets.

3. A mix of bracelets on my right arm.

4. Sweaters and t-shirts instead of blouses under a suit or jacket. Most blouses, even the most "perfect" white ones, just do nothing for me.
Susan B said…
Oh, and

5. Scarves, bien sur.
Susan B said…
Ah, and I realized I missed your point entirely!

1. My college roommate who was of Hawaiian, Chinese and French ancestry used to dress in Chinese brocade jackets and silk or cotton mary jane slippers.

2. My friend Julie, who has the Hippie Chic gene.

3. The women I see but don't know by name who can carry off very short hair and chunky or ethnic jewelry.

4. Audrey Hepburns slim, simple, black ensembles, though I don't know if that was personal style as much as costume designing.
Duchesse said…
Deja Pseu: Thanks for personal, vivid examples! Would love to be able to carry off Hippie Chic (40 years later)! And... sparkly/dangly is hard hard to pull off if you petite.

GP: Yes, with luck we learn that one friend's signature is not 'for all'!

I have read, "choose your look and stick with it" but as I age, I am changing.

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