Monday, January 9, 2012


Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. - Mark Twain
January is a dangerous time of year for me. In two words: Winter Sales. This year is worse than usual since I pretty much needed an entire new wardrobe after losing some weight. I see you nodding in sympathy. So with renewed enthusiasm, I go into my newly replenished closet each morning and assemble an ensemble, then look in the mirror with uncertainty until I get the thumbs up or thumbs down from my husband, a designer with impeccable taste in EVERYTHING.
I come by my insecurities honestly. Growing up I never left the house without hearing, “Oh, are you wearing THAT?” “No, mother,” I’d reply. “I just spent an hour getting dressed because I plan to wear something else.” Even now when I visit, I brace myself for The Question. I’m rarely disappointed.
I could point out that my mother has no fashion sense, but that’s irrelevant. The seed was planted, watered and grew until as an adult I met a very fashion-savvy young woman who shared a secret with me that I’m going to pass on right now. Ready?
Nobody cares what you’re wearing, they care what they’re wearing. Unless you look fabulous or horrible, nobody notices.
To prove her point she dressed me in her clothes (at the time I had just moved to Houston from the Virgin Islands and had nothing appropriate of my own) and took me to a season of chic parties where we observed the wealthy socialites in their designer outfits. Someone always looked stunning, while some poor creature…let’s just say, expensive can also be tragic. Very tragic.  And my friend was right. We were nicely put together, acceptable and no one paid the slightest attention to what we were wearing.
My friend’s secret was liberating—freeing me of years of maternal disapproval. It also says a lot about human nature. Other people don’t see those little flaws in your figure, care if you wear comfy shoes or notice that little black dress is the same one you always wear to the company Christmas party. So relax and enjoy yourself, you look just fine.…although you might rethink the temptation to buy that Versace leopard-print lycra catsuit. Just saying.
What about you--love clothes, see them a purely utilitarian or something in between? 


aroseisarose said...

I love clothes, but there have been plenty of times I've changed because I was afraid of what other people would think.

But you're right, Lark, they don't! Great advice!

Lark Howard said...

I'm sure you dress beautifully, arose. Sometimes the ensemble that seems wonderful hanging in the closet, just doesn't work when you put it one. A wise woman changes.

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, Lark,
For too long, I saw clothes as utilitarian. I was in a rut and hadn't realized it. Slo-o-o-wly, I'm climbing out of the rut.

Utilitarian will always be my default, though, because I went to Catholic grade- and high-school and got used to the ease of a uniform.

Thanks for passing along your friend's secret. "Unless you look fabulous or horrible, nobody notices." That IS freeing.

Re fashion: Project Runway-All Stars started last week. I'm happy to see some favorite designers competing, especially Mondo.

Lark Howard said...

When I was in school I envied the Catholic school girls' their uniforms, Pat. White blouse, plaid skirt and blue cardigan--so easy.

I used to love PROJECT RUNWAY but, alas, my husband turned off cable so we haven't had TV for 2.5 years. I need to see if I can find it online since I don't spend enough time at my computer. :-)

Pat O'Dea Rosen said...

Hi, again, Lark,
I would have loved a blue cardigan. My uniform consisted of white blouse, plaid skirt, and gray blazer. I remember those three pieces fondly but have carried forward a hatred of knee socks.

By the way, YOU dress beautifully.

Lark Howard said...

Thanks for the compliment, Pat. You're very sweet.

Knee socks...yuck! They never stayed up! And only a handsome Scot in a kilt looks really good in them.