Two goddesses, two ways

The always-edifying Sartorialist, Scott Schuman, published recent photos of his favourite goddess-muses, Giovanna Ballaglia, editor of Italian U'Omo Vogue, and Emanuelle Alt, Fashion Director, Vogue Paris.

These beauties are young enough to be my daughters, but I found the juxtaposition interesting. The lesson I derived: you can do one or another, but in-between, bof.

So Carol teaches me to elevate jeans with a gorgeously-tailored jacket and leave makeup and hair natural. Many of us will feel relieved that elegance can be supremely simple.

And Giovanna- madonna, this is glamour!
The bag, the jewelry, the sheer audacity of leopard hose and shoes. She is telling me that dressed up need not be stuffy, safe or boring.

A more mature woman might lower the heel but never the standard. A 50+ Carol could trade jeans for well-cut pants. But she will care, and choose her place to stand.

Timid hair-with-barettes, bitsy earrings, anything less than very good quality (here, it is sublime): pass.
Doesn't serve us, doesn't brighten a day.

Buy, shop consignment, sew. Just avoid the oppressively average, which is everywhere.

Depending on the day, we can be Carol or Giovanna– or caper about like this London lass (who reminds me of Kate Winslet). More attitude, less cash, but still, a personality. Grab a clown bag, throw on a bright scarf, peep of electric blue, lush lipstick: smile!

Memo to self:

Take the shirt-and-jeansbut then, think like a stylist (which both Schuman's goddesses have been), not a tired, cranky shopper.

Wake up and find the inner Carol, Giovanna or... somebody.


Shelley said…
I'm pleased that you can identify the lessons to be learned from the younger stylish woman. I'm afraid I have on blinkers and feel that they and the older women in fashionable garb look good because they are thin. I am not and I'm going to have to work on getting past that obstacle.

You mentioned hair barrettes. I'm close to discarding most of my hair ornaments, not that I've ever been a huge fan, because they seem too 'girly'. Are there guidelines you might suggest for what hair ornaments do or do not suit an older woman?
Nancy K said…
That's why I sew. I can do interesting without breaking the bank. I am not thin, but in that middle ground that rtw doesn't serve at all. Again I can make it myself.
Susan B said…
So true, Duchesse, and your post today is helping to set my determination to stop accumulating "average" pieces. Sure, we can have the black trouser workhorses, but the rest should be fabulous.

I would kill for Giovanna's camel coat. ;-)
Mardel said…
Great post. I am working on getting beyond average at the moment as after some weight loss, the remaining items in my closet are the basic, average, ones. I have set myself the task of learning to work with them in a more interesting way, especially as special pieces tend to be things that are not quick to appear.

I like the way the jacket adds polish to dressed down, without the artificial polish of overdone hair or face. And increasingly it seems that playing safe while dressing up is just boring and old. It seems to easy to get mired in the quicksand of trying to straddle something in-between.
Frugal Scholar said…
Very nice post. I started putting bits and pieces of the other ensembles on the last picture. It was fun--paperdolls.
materfamilias said…
Yes! This is what I'm trying to move towards as well. Where I might, in the past, have shopped the January/February sales and leftovers, just for the sake of having something new, instead this year I looked and left, saving my dollars and waiting. I broke that fast this weekend with two new items that were a splurge, but that are distinctive yet with classic lines and quality. I'm hoping to keep this up, trimming and refining the wardrobe -- posts like yours and our great on-line community of stylish women of a certain age are wonderful inspirtation and support -- thanks!
LPC said…
I couldn't agree more. It is also possible to buy items that are above average in a subtle way, distinguished by the turn of a detail. That's what I'm comfortable with, and probably the route I'll stay on. Shopping with intent, but avoiding anything outragoues.
...just avoid the oppressively average....that phrase is music to my ears! Isn't that was personal style is all about? YES, you have nailed it, in a nutshell.
That is why my heart soars when I discover some fab vintage gem, or scarf...I am honing my eye and honoring the subtle elements of style.
Great post!
L'age moyen said…
Yes, yes,leave average behind. I was quite daring as a teen and in my '20s, then got focused on career aspirations and, dare I say it, dressing for success. So dull. Took the life right out of me. After a chunk of time away from corporate life I'm finally rediscovering my courage and, thankfully, my style. It is much more fun now to get dressed and take risks, and choose what I like to wear.

I think Giovanna gets it right all the time. She never looks like she's laboured over her outfit but all the details just click into place. Her heels are a little high, but I take my hat off to her for being able to get around town in them.

Duchesse, can I take this opportunity to introduce you to my blog? This is the second incarnation of l'age moyen and I'm still working on it. Your blog has been such an inspiration. (Obviously, since I can't seem to hold my self to short and sweet comments). I welcome any suggestions or advice you might have to offer. I have found so many blogs through yours and feel like I've finally found an online community for my age and stage. Thanks so much.
Vildy said…
I must've been channeling you this morning at the thrift shop. I found a few pair of Ann Taylor Loft pants in my size. Very useful looking. Probably would wear them. But I noticed a dutiful feeling and put them back. I had been thinking lately of an episode in my youth when a fellow I knew asserted he would marry when he found a woman who delighted him. (it didn't work out that way but that's another story)

So I had that word "delight" in my mind and found a black wool crepe jumpsuit, rather military top without the epaulets and slim fluid bottom. I love black, love wool crepe and love jumpsuits whether it's a year they're adored or mocked. 50 cents, too. I was immediately delighted. It's just my kind of thing, very special for me.
Duchesse said…
Shelley: I'd choose either classics (like a tortoise bar that vanishes against the hair ) or the really special (like mother of pearl inlaid chopsticks) rather than "cute" (hearts, birds) or any of those big jaw-clips, or logos.

Nancy K: You are so right, the middle just drops out.

Pseu: Full disclosure, I do have a lot of black pants!

Mardel: Yes, they are slow to appear. Sometimes think I want something to show for my search and end up with just ok- and I should wait.

Frugal: Play away- is this kind of like that Land's End fit model? And did you see Vildy's comment- 50 cents.

materfammilias: You WILL show us, won't you?

LPC: From what you have shown us I'd say you are doing just that.

L'age moyen: I'll be over there!
Your journey is similar to mine, when I think of the things I used to buy! Long for my wardrobe ca. 1985, only without the shoulder pads.

Giovanna, whew she's got it. Can one look like that at 40 lbs heavier?

hostess; And you have nailed the feeling, your heart soars.

Vildy: O.M.G. 50 CENTS? May I introduce you to Frugal Scholar? You were separated at birth.
M said…
Two great examples...definately not pedestrian.
mette said…
A perfect post Duchesse! I´d only like to add one thing: Have the guts to do it!
Judy said…
I love Emanuelle Alt's style. So simple yet chic. Well fitting jeans and a great jacket. Perfect. Though I need to do flat boots and shoes instead of heels!
So with you on being sick of the average. There is so much the same in the shops, and I long for the unique, great quality, flattering piece.
s. said…
I think my inner Carol and Giovanna have been fast asleep for the past decade. Maybe this decade, they'll decide to wake up and play.

Thank for the inspiration!
Cybill said…
This is the sort of post that will change my life, thank you so much.
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