A Christmas Eve Cocktail of Style
Christmas was exactly what I hoped for: snowy white outside, wood-stove warm inside, and packed full of family. You should know packed actually means packed, as my mom somehow managed to fit 5 different households under one roof with two other families added during the daytime.
It was as wild and comforting as the Christmas bonfire my brother-in-law built for the family. You should've seen it; he had those little (and bigger) sprouts hauling surplus wood pallets to stack on the fire ring while he rounded up things like old diesel fuel and newspaper. Of course, this was all after dark in the thick of a snowstorm. The fire was big enough to melt the snow in a radius of about 7 feet around the ring and the kids were head-over-heels in delight.
So was I. It was a refreshing change from groaning on the couch under the weight of another heavy dinner. We had resolved to do more things for Christmas this year to create memories that would stand out, and between walks, ice-skating and bonfires in sub-zero weather we succeeded.
One of my favorite things about my family is that while we are proud to have the same heritage and values, we also love being diverse among ourselves and the world. To be told we are unique is a compliment of highest degree with the Eby clan, and conversely to be lumped into one category annoys us more than we like to admit (c'mon family, you know it's true). Our less-publicized family tag line is "Eby does it" which gets used whenever one of us needs a pep talk, or we are particularly proud of something.
A Christmas Eve Cocktail of Style
We took a walk on Christmas Eve and as we left the house it was amusing to note how completely different we were in style choices. One sister was clad from head-to-toe in a leopard print hat with ears, mink coat, and motorcycle boots incongruously finishing it off. My older sister looked kitschy in a fur-trimmed coat embroidered with red roses and a hummingbird; she wore Ugg boots tied with a bow in the back. She wasn't wearing socks and didn't particularly need to because those boots work so well against the cold. I wore my red beret, which was the most notable thing about me.
I loved it. It was so much more interesting to look at than if we'd all chosen the same J. Crew or Brooks Brothers coats or all worn Ugg boots (with PSL's clutched tightly in our white fingers). If one of us had showed up in a head wrap and hoop earrings I might've actually whooped in delight.
Diversity is thrilling, but even more exciting is interacting with the kind of minds and spirits that decide to wear things outside the ordinary, or that don't technically "match."
It's easy to talk about how wearing clothes shows a person's heart as it refers to a sense of "rightness" in another person. However, if we were honest it's often colored by our own insecurity, because if someone else is inappropriate or tacky it makes us feel better. It's cheap, but effective.
Clothing is a method of communication, not a standard of judgement with which a whole person should be convicted. In that sense, of course what you wear says much about you, but no one wants to be judged as a whole person by a particular article of clothing they decided to put on that day. It's too much pressure and as we already know, clothes don't deserve that kind of importance.
There's always a lot more to be discovered than the one paragraph that details an outfit. Charnelle wears motorcycle boots which is a clue to the fact that she rides a lot, but it doesn't even begin to cover her work in a bodywork shop, love of books and movies, that vintage couch she has in her house or her witty repartees in conversation. The artsy embroidery of red roses on Lorene's coat is a whimsical part of her that doesn't show that she has a warm and inviting Italian decor style, a passion and talent for being a life coach, or that she cooks like a boss.
What someone wears is a clue to who they are, but never the whole book. It expresses facets of their personality, but there can be many different sides to their likes, dislikes and lifestyle. No one ever wants to be shut up in one room of their house forever, which is exactly what we do when we judge the whole book by the cover.
When I see my sister wearing a coat with embroidery my first thought isn't about how it expresses her as a whole person but how much it simply works with her glowing, intense personality. There's much more to her than a great personality, but this is what draws me in. If I didn't know her, I'd want to get to know her.
SHAKE IT UP, SHAKE IT UP
My brother-in-law joined us for a walk and it was refreshing to see he and my sister step out as something other than a cookie-cutter couple in matching duds. Nothing wrong with matching and couples do a lot of merging to become one, but it's always sad to me if they lose what makes them a unique person. Their own "finger print," so to speak. Differences that compliment are what makes any marriage, friendship, or relationship stay fresh and discoverable.
Differences make any style stay fresh and discoverable.
What is your style? Bet you a classic nickel you've taken a quiz or read an article that tells you something like:
"You're a romantic! You love frills and lace and ruffles and delicate fabrics."
"Classic gal all the way. You love a tailored silhouette and Louboutin heels with an evening made for pearls."
But you there, classic darling, have you been sipping at some boho prints in the record shop? Jazzing up the old routine with some Miles Davis and sequins? Learning and growing into new things is not how we stay alive, but it's how we feel alive. It fuels the spirit like food does the body.
You can't micro-obsess over eating the right kinds of foods all the time and keep enjoying meals before eating becomes a burden. This is just what happens if you obsess over finding that "one perfect style."
We all benefit learning about good nutrition and style, but it will be a far more balanced approach if you occasionally have a burger and fries while wearing a ratty tee shirt, with the summer sun streaming over a big mess in the kitchen.
The best style is enjoying the life you have with confidence and learning when to dress it up, mix it up, and let it go.
P.S. It might interest you to know that most of us buy our clothes thrifted or second-hand. We buy new if needed, but like to shop places like Poshmark and eBay. If you sign up for Poshmark and use the code LYNETTEBY you'll get $5 off your first order, and I'll get $5 for referring you. That sounds all grand and style blogger-y but I promise, this is something they do for everyone and this post isn't sponsored. <grin> L.E.