There’s this fabulous blog called ADVANCED STYLE where women beyond the age of your average Vogue reader share their take on fashion, style and life. It’s like the Sartorialist with the requirement of an AARP card. These women who were reading fashion magazines in the days of Carmel Snow and Diana Vreeland and Fleur Cowles. From classic to eccentric to eclectic – these women are inspiring at seventy, eighty, even ninety-nine.
I love fashion. Always have. It went from simply the fun of shopping and dress up to an appreciation of fashion history when at about thirteen, my love of the Met’s Temple of Dendur was usurped by a trip downstairs to an exhibit at the Costume Institute.
I love the history and the art of fashion and, always the writer, the Proustian stories that a certain little black dress, a d’Orsay pump, a Cartier LOVE bracelet can evoke.
And I am loving the wisdom of these women at the AS site.
Some of my greatest fashion influences were grandmothers (I had several more than two), great-grandmothers and great aunts – women whose personal style was decades apart from the trends of my day. Women who took me to tea and fashion shows at the long gone Bullocks Wilshire. Women who offered all sorts of fashion wisdom, some that only years later I would truly appreciate.
While I always loved playing dress up in my mother’s closet, and in no doubt am greatly influenced by her, their closets and dressing rooms were a bit more, well, fun. The hat boxes, the cocktail jewelry, the vintage fur capelets with the monogrammed silk linings – and everything from Dior to local dressmaker was so. well. made.
As my father once put it, “They know from cool.” And they shared the cool, too.
The grandmother who brought 8-year-old me a black velvet Yves Saint Laurent dress from Paris with its sequined sleeves and royal blue silk sash. Or the black cashmere Lacroix swing coat another gave me when I was going off to college. Or the sets of Bakelite bangles. Or the delicately beaded purse inscribed with the name of the first owner and dated one hundred years ago. They shared all sorts of cool with me.
But they also helped to me realize that style is not synonymous with fashion – it does not come from any store, any look book, or by following any set of rules. It also isn’t about how much money you spend or don’t spend. Style is something cultivated and discovered over time.
Something that the women of ADVANCED STYLE have much to teach. xo a.
And now, five great things someone else said about personal style:
When I arrived in America, I had these very dark red nails which some people objected to, but then some people object to absolutely everything. – Diana Vreeland, DV
Fashions fade, style is eternal. – Yves Saint Laurent
Chic is where you find it. – Bonnie Cashin
Elegance is good taste plus a dash of daring. – Carmel Snow
Oh, never mind the fashion. When one has style of one’s own, it is always twenty times better. – Margaret Oliphant