Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Her Style

A slew of new images of my grandmother have come into my possession recently. I haven't seen these photographs, in dare I say it??? Forty years!
Some truths, which I suspected about her particular brand of style, have come to light. And even while she lived from 1904 to 1987, she seemed to have a "brand", however unawares she may have been or nonchalant. Her style still measures up today in every way. There is little in the photographs that could not be worn today by a stylishly classic woman.
I love her glen plaid cotton dress on a summer day with her basket tote. Sometimes with her dark sunglasses, her hair smoothed back. She cut her own hair, I remember that. Her beauty routines were of her own design: Pacquins handcream, talcum, tar soap instead of shampoo, olive oil for conditioner, lemons for everything. She did not read beauty manuals but used old fashioned remedies and common sense. She had the softest skin I've ever touched.
Her turquoise shantung silk suit on my uncle's wedding day could easily be remade with a tighter line and worn today. It's a stunner and would cost a pretty penny in a shop now. Most of her clothes were made by her own black enamel Singer. The sweaters tossed casually and chicly over her shoulders were her own designs too.
The shirtdresses with self belts, sleeveless shifts in Liberty print patterns, leather handbags, chiffon scarves and a silver cuff for adornment. All standing the test of time in photos. And all on a furniture salesman's salary. The lovely pearls were never real.
Nana was not a traditionally beautiful woman, but she had chicness, style and je ne sais quoi. If you were lucky enough to spend your childhood with her, you would have experienced her lemon scented hands brushing stray strands of hair from your face, the Lily of the Valley scent of her handkerchief, and you could have leaned against her crisply starched dresses on hot summer days.
She had an approach, self-created and perhaps not fully aware. Yet it worked and it is why these photographs have become a style notebook all their own.
Look for more postings on my grandmother in the future.


  1. Not only is she a role model for her classic, timeless style, Nana shows by her love and joy in these photos that she's a model woman. She embraces life and celebrates it by dressing accordingly! Lovely piece, Donna! Karen

  2. This is such a lovely tribute. You're a powerful writer! I'm glad you shared this; it's inspired me to try to capture a memory portrait of my grandmother. Isn't it interesting how sure of their style, how individual and non-influenced, women of past eras were?