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The Salubrious Effect Of Someone Else’s Friendly Eyes And Someone Else’s Stories

Here’s an excellent Vancouver wall!

Oh, and I’m wearing a cheap old black trench, brown Bottega Veneta messenger, a new pair of cropped black Vince pants (cuffed! 60% off on sale!), tiger-printed Gucci slides, gold hoops, and a vintage silk Ferragamo blouse that was an early birthday present from my son.

He bought it on eBay. I have never before worn vintage, unless we count those pieces I bought myself 15 years ago. My son thought the big cats on the blouse, and its coloring, would go well with my shoes.

How right he was.

Photo credit, BTW, to the ineffable Susan at Une Femme.

Evolving That Personal Style With A Little Help From Your Friends

At first, developing a strong personal style requires that we ignore other people’s voices, whether in reality or our minds. We stop listening to anything like, “Your hips are too big, your hips are too small, you aren’t pretty enough, you are too pretty, stop showing off, start showing your face.”

But once we’ve shut down the mean, opening ourselves to friendly lenses and voices can be fun. Edifying, even.

Remember when Susan and I dressed each other for parallel blog posts? OK, so I didn’t ditch my pencil skirts and pumps directly, but I edge towards Carine Roitfeld incrementally. More recently, albeit less dramatically, Susan gave me a thumbs up on the brown bag with black trench at top, as it picked up my tiger-printed slides. As you can see from the splash of red above, she knows bag colors.

This trip to Vancouver introduced me to another a brilliant style influence. Meet Mel, of Bag And A Beret. If you haven’t already, of course.

Mel of Bag and A Beret Wearing Sky Blue Bomber Jacket

I’m spotlighting one of her tomboy outfits here, but as you can see here, and here, she’s a chameleon. And an Instagram star.

Mel took me and Susan on an Alice in Wonderland tour of Holt Renfrew. Dolce and Gabbana as the Mad Hatter. Victoria Beckham, Queen of Hearts. Fabulous. I tried on a sweater. By Miu Miu if I remember? (Nope. Susan corrected me, it’s Marni. And was on sale for half price.) Colors classic and primary. East Coast heritage, through a Milan lens.

Mel took a couple of photos.

Another way to see oneself.

In the end the sweater didn’t quite fit. But the lesson on Transmuting Preppy to Intellectual Rocker – as Mel described my style – did.

Back To Earth, With Traces Of Wonderland

This trip also reminded me of how nice a trench can look (fits broad shoulders really well), even when it’s not raining.

Inexpensive Trenches In Multiple Colors And Slides To Go With

If you’d like to try your own hand at eBay-ing vintage Italian pieces, here are a few to consider. BTW, I was terrified of odor – and when my blouse arrived it did smell at first of perfume and cigarettes. Bleh. But, I patted it down with vodka a couple of times, aired it outside my closet, and it’s completely fine.¬†Ferragamo isn’t Gucci or D&G; you’ll find their vintage gives you Italian sprezzatura for less.

Vintage Silk Ferragamo Blouses On eBay

How about a shoe print?

Or purple stripes and butterflies?

This one has a lion AND a tiger.


Thanks to everyone who urges us, with affection, to try something new. To step on out.

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30 Responses

  1. It was so much fun traveling and talking style (and everything else) with you! My brain is still buzzing from some of our individual and group conversations. I thought your Ferragamo top was brilliant, and so perfect with the slides! I remember the sweater you tried as being Marni, but I could be mistaken. Either way, I love Mel’s description of your style. Just ordered the Vince pants too… ;-)

    1. @Susan B, Ah you are right, Marni, not Miu Miu! I’ve corrected it above. I’m so excited you ordered those pants. They are excellent, and I’m looking forward to traveling with them more often:).

  2. Intellectual rocker, that description fits you to a tee. That would be a vintage tee, with inestimable style, a pedigree to match, with a really smart slogan on it.

    1. @Sue Burpee, Ha! Love that pun. Thank you. Must think of smart slogan. All I have of rocker tees right now is one from 1984 with Bruce Springsteen on it;).

  3. I love this post. The photograph of you with your arms up, and your face turned to the side is fabulous. You look as if you are inhabiting your own body, your own space, your own thoughts, and allowing us to share who you know you are with us. Wonderful. As to taking in friendly voices and ignoring critical voices, no matter how they are clothed (no pun intended)? That reminds me of a concept a therapist introduced me to in 2009: Our lives are better when we are surrounded by people who are our positive mirrors, and avoid the people who are negative mirrors. After my mom died, my current therapist added to that the idea that the way other people act is about them not about me. That has been a difficult one for me to take in, but it is freeing. Some people seem capable of a more native awareness of this, others, like me, come to it with more effort. The physical feeling that arrives along with a positive-mirror person is kind of like a pleasurable drug spreading quickly through one’s veins. We are most ourselves when we are our own positive mirror, but we do that with the support of all those surrounding positive mirrors who show us the way. I have been present for your transformation chronicled on your blog. It has helped me with my own transition. Thank you for your bravery in sharing yourself with us. xo.

    1. @Katherine C. James, These were such positive mirrors, not just as I am but how I hope to be or might imagine I could be.

      It is my greatest honor to help. I am so glad I’ve been useful. I do need to clarify something – to make sure I’m not giving people the wrong idea. This transformation hasn’t been a change so much as an integration. I’ve always been like this on the inside, or once I start talking for real in real life, just now I am integrating my inside with my self-presentation.

      If that makes sense:). xoxo.

  4. I meant to comment on that blouse (which I’d guessed as a lightweight printed cashmere sweater, tbh) when we were at dinner — it’s the one you wore to Vij’s, right? Your son has very good taste, not surprisingly . . . .
    And trust Mel to come up with the perfect label — Intellectual Rocker! (may I be a teeny bit envious? — but truly, it’s so you!

    1. @Frances/Materfamilias, Let us be mutually envious of each other, it is akin to a mutual admiration society and so honest:). My son has very good taste indeed, and he’s studied to make it au courant, which has been really fun to observe.

  5. The blouse your son picked out is smashing with those shoes, which I finally get to see. Great outfit.
    When I asked you to step into the clothing rack for that photo and you did, I was impressed! Intellectual Rocker it is. And for anybody who’s curious, the face I’m making behind Lisa is not in response to her clothing but merely the sight of myself in the big mirror. Heh.
    Such a joy to meet you, and of course Sue, and Frances again. Some of the ideas we discusssed are still bouncing around my brain. I would love to continue the conversations. Thank you for this kind shout-out as well. Rock on!

    1. @Melanie, Thank you! You asking me to “step into the clothing rack” was a great metaphor for putting my own concerns about my “look,” aside. Such a pleasure to meet you, conversations can always be continued and I hope they are!

  6. Love this post, and the photo of you with your arms up. So much intellect, character, and presence in that shot. And you are blessed with a thoughtful son, one who channels good taste and sensitivity in nudging mom a little.

    1. @Mardel, Thank you very much. It’s so interesting how the shot itself creates presence, and maybe then I take some of that out into the world. And my son is very deft at the nudge;), you are right..

    1. @Kathy, Thank you! It’s a color mix I’d have thought would be bad with my coloring, but hey! And I’m amazed at how well the vodka trick worked.

  7. Hi Lisa. Read your response above when it arrived in my email. Wanted to say I understand what you mean about an integration rather than a transformation. We discussed an aspect of this in an email exchange. I used to think I had a public persona different from the private me. What I now realize is the “persona” is me absent any negative internal voice. The 22 months since my mother’s death have been a time of intense integration for me. Stepping into my own most authentic self has been challenging, and it is ongoing, but the shift is powerful, and at its best exhilarating. (I am attempting to say something sensible with a head injury, so I’ll leave it at that. But, I did want you to know that I understand the difference and am cheering you on.) xo.

  8. I would love to know who makes the black shoes you are wearing in the ‘sweater shot’ photo. I have been looking for a “shootie” and I love the ones you are wearing. Thank you for sharing the photos and your thoughts.

  9. Vodka. What, now?

    (Just catching up after traveling. Don’t expect deep comments!)

    1. @Cathy, Ha! Perfectly reasonable question. If your clothes smell, and you can’t wash them in soap and water, soak a cloth in vodka and pat the affected area. You might have to do this 2 or 3 times, but with a good airing out, and some time in the sun in between vodka-baths, the smells should be gone. It worked for me, and I’m an admitted princess about odors.

  10. Thank you so much for teaching me what “sprezzatura” means. That’s what I aspire to, although my aspiration may prevent me from ever achieving it. I also love an essay on Quartz that described sprezzatura as the style of someone who works their ass off but doesn’t whinge on about how hard they work so their world-class work product appears to have been effortless. That I like, too.

    I’m a big fan of good second-hand clothing. My very most favorite store in the world is a consignment shop in Springfield, Missouri — The Review Shoppe. (My husband calls it “Rescue,” which actually ain’t a bad name.)

    Love your posts and thoughts, Lisa. So much.

    1. @Ann, World-class work product that appears effortless, precisely. Especially if there’s just the right amount of exuberance to it. And thank you very much. Lovely to have you here.

  11. Your combination of blouse and shoes is perfect! I am a great second hand buyer and a regular ebay customer. This summer I bought several pairs of colourful sneakers (a leo print, a flower print etc.) which brighten my days for verys little cash.
    My slogan tee isn’t vintage but from Mother Jones and says: “Pray for the dead and fight like hell for the living.” I do not know if that is fit for an Intellectual Rocker, but it certainly fits me.

  12. I love the edginess of that wall and your outfit together!
    You have great style.
    Shopping with others is educational…I often buy something out of my usual comfort zone…which can feel so energizing.

    1. Thank you! And although I didn’t buy anything the expedition was totally energizing, as you say.

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