Laureen’s Corner: Thoughts on Fashion

Those of you who know me have almost certainly encountered – by reputation or in person – my mother-in-law Laureen. Unlike the stereotypical mother-in-law/daughter-in-law conflict, Laureen and I get along superbly. We share some common loves (like her son and grandsons) and we’ve developed some common interests. When I first started dating her youngest son, I thought fashion was definitely for other people. Over the twelve years since I married her son, Laureen has persistently and patiently introduced me to a wider world. Every time she comes, she brings an entire season’s worth of clothes for me (paying attention to my preferences and feedback). She’s gifted me appropriate jewelry from her collection – or made me bespoke jewelry from her business at Jeweled Dreams. She’s pushed, prodded, gotten me to buy new things and told me I looked fabulous for years now.

She has also agreed to be a guest commentator on this blog. So, with no further ado, I give you Laureen.

Laureen and Adam before the ballet this winter

Laureen and Adam before the ballet this winter

Ahhh fashion, a constant preoccupation.

One of my earliest memories is of sitting on a couch at age four reading my aunt’s issues of Vogue and Mademoiselle. My aunt was a graduate of Katherine Gibbs and New York secretary for over 50 years, her timeless elegance influenced me all my life. For me the word timeless is where fashion begins and is the starting point for all clothing in all situations. This seems especially relevant for young professional women who are expected to play all roles to all people while still giving credence to their femaleness, balancing comfort, practicality, professionalism and still qualifying as pretty and put together is not out of reach by any means.

Cooking, architecture or brain surgery all start in the same place: with a foundation. Make certain your appropriate parts are covered and supported before you start to embellish. Next, the basics are not necessarily expensive, but if you put in some initial thought they allow you the freedom of expression and personal taste that makes a look yours. Fit of anything including a basic T-shirt is important. With well fitted dark washed jeans, a white T and a nice blazer you can go almost anywhere including the red carpet (though you might want to add accompanying bling). Brenda and I are still working on the shoe issue Ed note: this is totally true, though I concede to the need for marathon walking and comfort. However, having walked for miles in boots and low heels on the cobblestones of Europe I highly recommend gel insoles for all. (I buy a half size larger for all shoes and immediately insert the insole.)

Humans as a species are highly visual so our first impression of one another is usually by sight. As such we make immediate judgements about another person based on what we see. If we are shocked or offended we may never overcome that first reaction to discover other more worthwhile qualities. As most of what this blog is referencing is in relation to the working world consider the politics of the work jungle. As if working with wild animals the professionally pretty woman wants to generate smiles not raised eyebrows. To do this protective coloring is required. That means initially wearing outfits that fit in with what others are wearing. Again the words timeless and classic come into play. Some of the best visual examples of this type of dressing can be found in any photos of such as Katherine Hepburn (especially great tailored pants) and Jackie Kennedy (wonderful sheaths and suits) to name only two. This year is especially bountiful for tailored dressing in everything from Target, to Ann Taylor and Ralph Lauren and more. Just remember, classic and tailored are not synonymous with stodgy or looking like your mother (though even we can be fashion forward).

Having established a comfortable basis you are now free to add those elements that make a look yours and speak to your preferences and personality. Whether it is the color of a blouse or purse a quirky shoe or scarf or in the case of my darling daughter-in-law one of a kind jewelry (which I delight in creating for her) you are icing the cake. If you have established your basics, little thought is required except to choose the decorations each day. Hopefully this cuts down on time and stress.

Ultimately for me, fashion is everywhere, color, shape, textures,, even as in the case of something like leather, smell and the sound fabric like silk makes. It plays to all the senses and weaves in and out of all my life bringing energy and pleasure.

And now for a final initial bit of advice-GET A FULL LENGTH MIRROR. You may look like Venus rising from the sea in front but if you haven’t checked the back view… disaster will surely follow. Literally.

Having been given the amazing gift of a daughter-in-law who is willing to let me shop for her I am enjoying our adventure as we explore the path to technically pretty.