On not trying too hard

Scott Schuman, in his blog The Sartorialist, posted this photo on June 4, with this comment:
When I am in a neighborhood I'm not looking for the "next big trend" or a ground-breaking style statement, but just reacting when I see a person and thinking to myself "he/she looks nice." "Looking nice" is truly underrated...

The young lady in today's post is dressed very simply, and yet I couldn't help but notice her in the crowded cafe where she was sitting with a friend. She looked so elegant in her simple white summer dress with a colorful floral scarf wrapped high around her shoulders. Not groundbreaking, not earth shattering, but in its own way, a very glamorous way to live a simply nice life.

Schuman captured a thought that's been on my mind for the last few weeks:
trying too hard always looks worse than dressing simply. We can get so caught up in looking current, looking 'right', that we forget it doesn't have to be so much work.

Sometimes decades of considering, buying and revising create a kind of visual build-up. The result is loss of grace and ease, loss of being happy with 'looking nice'. At the extreme is the victim of fashion.

I anticipate a comment that when you're young
everything, from the minimal to the piled-on and eccentric, looks good, but that's not Schuman's point, or mine. At any age, a simple dress, a pretty scarf, and a wide smile is sufficient and satisfying.

Photo: Scott Schuman, The Sartorialist


metscan said…
Yes.. so true. I wish I could just grab a knit,scarf,coat,whatever, belt it and know I look right for the moment. Everything does not have to match; imperfect is perfect for me.
sisty said…
So, so true! I actually found myself breathing out a nice big sigh as I read his words. It was actually a relief to hear it confirmed.

My way of practicing this is to try to take one thing off after I get dressed. A cliche by now, but it works.
see you there! said…
I suspect trying too hard is behind many of the fashion mistakes one spots. This becomes even more troublesome if a mature woman tries to pass for a decade or two younger than her age. It rarely fools anyone.

Duchesse said…
Darla: There is a vested interest from the fashion industry in convincing women they need the latest, and more. (Six or eight charms dangling off a handbag, for example.) While there are lines that show restraint, if a woman riffles through Vogue,for example, she sees a lot of overwrought styling. Part of it may be trying to look younger, and I think part of it is also the advertiser's intense wish to sell "more".
Imogen Lamport said…
What I notice about this pic is that it's simple, but put together and that she is very well groomed - which is often the difference between stylish and not.

I don't meet many people who spend so much time trying too hard, most (certainly in Australia) tend to underdress rather than over style.
Duchesse said…
Imogen: In a typical North American upscale mall, you will see many overdesigned shoes and bags, especially. These do sometimes end up on the same person.
sallymandy said…
Ahh. What a refreshing post, Duchesse. Like exhaling a pent-up breath. I like your phrase about visual build up. Remembering what Imogen recently posted about the importance of quality to age-appropriate dressing: how perfect especially if that simple dress and things to go with it are beautifully made. Not just visually pleasing, but a joy to wear.

thank you for recent visit. comments much appreciated.
Anonymous said…
The faster I grab and go, the better I look. I like Isaac Mizrahi's comment that "thrown together" looks better than "contrived." Something needs to be "off"--if you throw on ropes of gold, add something silver for example.

If we all weren't so inherently self conscious about ourselves in this world we'd probably all look like the girl in the Sart photo.
WendyB said…
I agree...looking nice is enough for me!

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