Sunday, February 27, 2011

My Grandma the Style Icon

A very early inspiration of mine (for fashion and many other things) was (still is!) my grandma. For as long as I can remember, excluding early morning hours when she’s in Jazzercise garb, she has been done up. Colorful scarves, long necklaces, big Jackie-O sunglasses and shoes -- wonderful, wonderful shoes.  My younger sister and I grew up going to our grandparents’ huge mountain home in Idyllwild where countless hours were spent in the woods, playing Indians and dragging fallen saplings down to the creek for a never-complete fort. We added water to ground-up charcoal to make black war paint and paddled down rapids in our “canoe” (actually a rickety old hammock).

Time not spent outdoors mashing up acorns and thinking of appropriate Indian names was spent in the upstairs master bedroom of the house, inside my grandmother’s closet. There, we had free reign to dress up in whatever we wished. (Amazing, and very trusting lady, right?) A floor-to-ceiling shelf packed with high-heeled shoes was stacked so high you needed a ladder to reach the top boxes.  Drawers were stuffed with silky lace slips – perfect damsel dresses. Belts, scarves, and even some fur jackets hung within reach, and costume jewelry was all at our disposal. Needless to say it was a wonderland -- the ultimate dress-up box. (And that’s saying something, considering the sizable collection of dress-up clothes I'd accumulated at home.)

My sister, grandma (in jade and pearls) and me at my wedding in 2009. Photo by Aaron Thompson.
My grandparents now live in Palm Desert, and although her closet has been downsized considerably, my grandma still appears in smartly styled outfits simply for the grand event of reading on the couch or walking the length of the weekend street fair with my grandpa.  Her feet – permanently arched from decades of high-heels – have never been without nail polish. She always notices my new watches and purses, and shares the story behind her Dooney and Bourke handbags with me like it’s a language only she and I speak.  My grandma knows what I’m still discovering, --that fashion is not a set of rules or a competition. It’s a way to make the everyday extraordinary and color your life the way you want to live it!

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