My Style Story
I began working in my teens.
When I got my paycheck on Friday,
I headed for the mall and spent every penny
on clothes and makeup.
I had a budget, or as my Mommy used to say,
"Mija, you have champagne taste and beer money,
so you need to work."
I was raised by my Mexican, single mother,
and we were on the poor side of the tracks.
I remember being the only kid in the class who
didn't have a dad around when I was
growing up. That was back in the late 60's-70's,
before divorce was like it is today.
When my mother married my stepfather
(when I was 12), I saw how the other half lived,
because he had a wealthy sister, or,
rather, she married a man who was rich.
When I saw material riches for the first time,
I became fascinated by it, all of it.
I thought it was the greatest thing ever!
And the clothes, my new step aunt was
so elegant, I can still remember her blond hair,
crystal blue eyes, her camel monochromatic outfit
with matching turban and her amazing platform shoes.
I will always remember her tan wrist, glistening
in the sparkling pool, and those amazing gold bracelets
almost melting together as they glowed in the sun.
After that one weekend I spent at their home,
I wanted to get out of poverty with all my being.
Once I saw there was another way to live,
I wanted out of where I was. I knew there
was a better way, or rather, a more comfortable way.
I was used to hearing, "No, we can't afford
that". I heard that over and over again growing up.
I couldn't go to camp, or get piano lessons, or
get those little wooden platform shoes because we
couldn't afford it. I still have dreams about
those little wooden shoes. :-)
My mother made sure I had jobs every summer
so I could buy my school clothes and
when I was a sophomore in high school,
I worked at a sandwich shop every day
after classes ended. I worked there for a year
and then, trying to be helpful, I got my friend a job
and she worked beside me. After a few weeks,
they liked her better and I was fired.
I then got a job at Montgomery Wards, working
in the cosmetic and perfume department.
I have been thinking deeply about my earlier years lately.
As I approach 50, my past is being replayed in my mind.
I seem to be connecting to that part of me that loved
clothes and especially wearing them.
The part that I have slowly but surely let go
of over the decades.
At one point I began my mad pursuit of the spiritual
side of life, and I buried the desire for nice things.
I put myself on a materialistic diet so to speak,
convinced that I could not be spiritual and pursue
the physical at the same time, even after I learned
that it was possible.
I began to live in a type of sartorial abstinence,
as compared to the earlier days, when I
thoroughly enjoyed clothing and dressing
myself. I would still dress up, but not with
the same drive and passion. I thought I
was just getting older and turning grannyish.
As the years went by, I shed more and more
of my desire for sporting beautiful clothes
and jewelry, and convinced myself
I was over all of that.
I was more mature and older now.
I would tell myself I must shed the material side
to strengthen myself spiritually.
I could not grasp that physical things mixed
very well with the soul.
They seemed to be in opposition, at least in my mind.
At one point I stopped dressing up and even wearing makeup
and didn't care how I looked. I lived in jeans and t-shirts,
something I would never do before. I clearly let my style go.
I see now that I was not being true to myself those years
I did not dress up. I had reasons when I didn't, but I wasn't being
my old honest self. I wasn't enjoying my clothes like years before.
Over time I discovered that my love of beautiful
things does not conflict with my spiritual pursuits.
Material things I love are delightful to me,
therefore bringing me joy.
Joy is mandatory when seeking the spiritual side of things.
I don't dress for anyone else but myself.
The fashion show is my own.
Being true to who I am is more spiritual than trying to bury those
things that my mind believed were in conflict with my soul.
Today I am being true.
I love clothes and shoes (especially shoes).
And not just any clothes and shoes.
I love DESIGNER stuff.
I love QUALITY and even though I grew up
with meager means, my mother taught me
to go for quality and don't buy CHEAP ANYTHING.
She believed it was better to have less and
high quality, than a bunch of cheap junk!
I love my Mommy's advice!
I don't need to feel guilty about surrounding myself
with the most beautiful things in life anymore.
I don't need to hide it or be embarrassed by it.
Embracing my desire and love of even gorgeous
luxury is helping to nourish my soul now.
So what about the green chair?
My daughter and I found it today on a curb
when we were walking in the early morning.
It was free so I thought it would be fun to
reupholster it; we now have a little summer project.
How funny is that?
As I re-embrace my love of luxury everything, I can't
seem to resist an old chair on the side of the road.
I guess you can take the girl out of some poverty,
but you can't take the curb trash out of the girl. :-)
Thank you for joining me today.
What is your style story?
Whatever it is, stay true to yourself!
See you next time,
Cashmere sweater: Chanel 03 Earrings: Vintage Chanel
Sunglasses: Tom Ford Gold Bracelets and Pearls: Old treasures
Ridiculously amazing clear ball bag: Judith Leiber
Hair hat: Gabor Shoes: Qxtra
Learn more about why I do what I do.