Simply Lou: Stylin’ & Profilin’
When I was told this was to be the Style Issue of BayouLife, my first response was, “What?! I “ain’t” got no style!” But, after some thought, I decided that was not quite true. We all have style. A very personal style, like our fingerprints. We are all different to be sure, but, whether you realize it or not, we are all “stylin’ and profilin’” each and every day!
The dictionary defines style as “a manner of doing or presenting things.” Style applies to all kinds of things such as art, architecture, design, fashion, your likes, your dislikes.
I thought I would just pick one and go for it. So I am going to tackle style and fashion. They are not the same thing. While style reflects our inner being, fashion is the outward expression of that inner being. Put another way, what you wear is a reflection of how you feel about yourself. And I learned that 80% of someone’s first impression of you is how you look. Oh dear!
I had to think about that for awhile. Sometimes I could pass for a vagrant. Since I have retired, what do I need with all those work clothes? I have pared that wardrobe of mine way, way down! And I save a lot of money on makeup, since I don’t absolutely HAVE to put the face on”everyday. I like what Orson Welles said, “Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say and not giving a damn.” That’s me!
I can’t paint unless I’m wearing my nightgown. Oh, it is a special kind, too. I have three of them, all alike. I have paint all over two of them. The third I save for formal occasions! As in, when I am NOT painting! It’s like my Sunday best! I will go over to my daughter Paige’s home with a shirt on over my gown with my boots on! And, I might wear one of them all day if I want to. Retirement does have it’s perks.
My other thought on fashion is, if it isn’t comfortable, I will not wear it! That goes way back to my childhood. I didn’t like being in anything tight or restrictive! My poor Mom. She so wanted me to be a girly girl. But, didn’t happen. Still hasn’t. I want comfort or I ain’t happy.
I have two dresses for the summer. If I go out, I will have one of those on. People may think, “is that all that woman has to wear?” Well, no, but, these dresses are comfortable, easy to throw on and even easier not to have to iron them. And people, my car’s air conditioner won’t work. It’s one of those scorcher Louisiana summers. I love some linen pieces I own, but I’ve rebelled against ironing, unless I absolutely have to. Linen can be hot, too.
Now, in the winter, if I can add my precious, treasured blue jean jacket and my cowboy boots, I’m good. I have had the boots and jacket for many years and I always feel good when I have them on. They are like dear old friends.
I have a really pretty dress up dress and a black sparkly dress for special occasions. And I do wear my jacket and cowboy boots with the sparkly one. The pretty dress up dress, okay, I admit it, I put the cowboy boots on with it, too. As Bob Dylan said, “I can only be me, whoever that is!” And besides, I cannot wear heels. Never could. I wobble when I try to walk in them, so, first chance I get, I am going to kick those things off, so why bother? Those things hurt my feet, too. Once I was on the Homecoming Court at Bastrop High School. We had to wear a formal and heels and then ride in the parade. Well, I took those dyed to match high heels off ASAP and ran around outside after the pep rally in my pantyhose. I didn’t know concrete would tear those hose to shreds. So, I just slipped into the bathroom, took those things off and threw them away. I got on the back of that convertible and enjoyed being the first and probably only Sophomore Maid ever to ride barefooted. Again, my poor Mother.
And hair. I used to slave for hours fixing my long, blonde hair. It was the late 60’s and early 70’s. Everybody had their hair long. “The boys loved long hair.” When I got married and had my first baby, that long hair had to go. I cut it off and have kept it short. Larry Davenport would ask why? I’d tell him if he had to fix that mop of hair and take care of a baby, he’d shave his head! He knew he was not going to win that debate!
I keep it short and messy. It fits me. To some, I’m sure it’s a little bit out there, but again, it’s me! I also have a baseball hat and a straw hat for those bad hair days!
A side note to that long hair. When I was in high school, all there was to do in Bastrop was drive around “the Loop” and check out all the guys! With the windows down of course. At every red light, I had to fix my hair just by chance some good lookin’ guy drove along side and wanted to talk. I kept my brush right beside me in the seat! We all did that! It finally worked, and I did meet a very good looking young man who did become a boyfriend. For a while anyway. Oh, the good ol days. “We’ve come a long way, baby!”
In Trace Adkins song, “Rough and Ready,” he sings about his suit. He sings “size too small, don’t fit me at all, unless somebody kicks, gets hitched, suit makes me itch! But, I am who I am, and that’s all I can be, and you are who you are, and that’s alright with me!” I agree!
I cannot bear anything that itches. I had a gorgeous silver gray wool sweater one time. First time I put it on, it came right off. I ended up cutting it into four pieces and stitching the edges. I used them for place mats at a Monroe Garden Club table scape meeting. I still have them and they are pretty! Odd, but pretty! If you can’t wear it, recycle it!
In defense of my slightly eccentric style, I still “clean up pretty good” when I have to. For my age, I can still pull it all together! I can still be “stylin’ and profilin’!” I was talking to my cousin Margaret yesterday about how much trouble I was having writing about style. I told her I didn’t have any style! She gave me a huge complement when she said, “Yes, you do! You are flamboyant!” I think she really meant, LOUD! We laughed and laughed at that! It’s funny how others see us, huh?
I do want to say that I think Southern Ladies have the most impeccable style in the world. We may all travel different paths, but, it is true that we are all Steel Magnolias. We can handle anything with style and grace. We also come in all shapes, sizes and colors! Turn some of our Southern Ladies loose on those runways in Paris! They would turn heads and knock em out of their seats! That audience would not know what hit ‘em! And backstage, the ladies would most likely have a perfectly appointed buffet, southern food only, and be hostesses, too.
Well, in closing, I guess it was a good thing to write about style as it relates to fashion. I have learned a few things while writing this one. As we get older, we really don’t care what others think. That’s a good thing. I know who I am and who I am not, and that’s a great feeling. I also believe I am picky. Well, I know I am! Style is about spirit. Strong spirits. And for us Southern Ladies, we are loaded with that!
Kick that air conditioner down and stay cool! “The Long Hot Summer” will end sooner or later. And Netflix needs to put on some new shows. I’m running out of things to watch in my formal nightgown!
My illustration uses an Emilo Pucci design for the background.