I found myself giddy reading this past weekend’s Wall Street Journal. It appears that being conservative might be considered the new radical — at least from a fashion perspective. It seems all my twin-sets, skirt suits, Ferragamo heels and the double-strand of pearls that belonged to my grandmother are a much-desired staple for the fashion-forward set. Silly me, I just thought I was being stubbornly conservative.
I’ve been told time and time again that fashion is, indeed a big carousel; wait long enough and the designs you like will come around again.I’m tickled to see this particular turn-about come round; I’m a big believer in the theory of showing less is more. My mother taught me well, and I am trying to do the same with my own young daughter: teach that the mystery of what you cannot see is an awful lot more intriguing than just putting it all out there on display. The aura of the unknown makes the discovery process worth the challenge to pursue; the subtle learning and knowledge that comes with each step of the reveal is what life is all about. Put it all up for everyone to get right out of the chute and it is really rather anticlimactic.
“Ladylike is the ultimate sexiness.” –Christopher Kane
Of course, it isn’t just fashion that embraces the culture of over sharing; social media is run rampant with horrifying examples of poor judgment and utterly bad discretion. Pictures posted on Twitter and Facebook live forever. Forever. Many a college admission test, job interview or background security check came to a screeching halt thanks to one simple moment of lapsed thinking. Just search the hashtag #overshare on Twitter if you don’t believe me. The world is screaming for restraint!
When I think back to my childhood, the icons of my youth weren’t the flash-in-the-pan celebrities of the time. I am sure, if I thought long and hard, I might come up with a name or two of people who made some sort of impression (good or bad!) in the recesses of my mind. But when I stop and think for even a second, about the names and faces that made an indelible impression on me at a young age, the women who made themselves known for being ladies, first, come to mind: Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn, Margaret Thatcher, Princess Diana of Wales. These women were graceful, well-spoken, fashionable, discrete with their private lives and put others above self. To this day, I find myself pausing when I see photos or articles about any of them, hungry to learn more about their lives and the passions that fueled them. Their modicum of discretion and poise continue to stand the test of time.
I hope our society — and not just our fashion — is taking a turn from this current over-exposed lifestyle that abounds. It would be nice to bring a little restraint back into the way we live, work and play. Toning down our ostentatious ways – especially those who continue to live their lives of excess on other people’s time, money and generosity – is damaging society at large. We all must find a way to appreciate the value of the restrained life that will allow us to all reap rewards for years to come.
In the WSJ article, twenty-six-year-old designer Wes Gordon sums it up well: “It’s good to be a little mysterious in the over-crowded, overexposed world we live in now.” Well said, Wes!