Wednesday, February 3, 2016
A Valiant Fight for Glamour
If it were not for my divorce, unwanted though it was, I would not have found my dearest friends, begun a writing career or have even written this blog. I would never have been able to discover so many wonderful things to be passionate about. I've been finding "oysters" for years in places like my daily train ride to Boston where I conducted a private three year self-study of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and in a bookshop where I found my forever muse, the 18th century Mrs. Delany. I have been able to read and contemplate and then incorporate others' truths into my own life from those I admired in the books I never would have read as part of a married couple. And my single life has been all the richer because of it.
My latest oyster is the now-forgotten teenage designer, Emily Wilkens. Miss Wilkens fell into clothing design when her charming illustration work in the 1940's was eventually noticed by a few Hollywood stars who then asked her to make clothing for their children. Before long, her style aligned with young teenage girls who loved her easy-going pretty clothes. Miss Wilkens' focus on the young set may have actually ushered in the youthquake of the 60's. Her resulting book about teenage grooming called "Here's Looking at...You!" has a charm school quality written from a big sister to a little sister, with advice to begin a "valiant fight for glamour". Miss Wilkens believed that all teenage girls could look wholesome AND glamorous and proved it by designing the first little black dress appropriate for a young miss.
The advice I love most from Miss Wilkens is to "ease into your clothes...make them part of you". I know that when I feel my best, it's usually because I am wearing something beautiful and luxurious but delightfully simple too. Clothes like this make one forget what's on their back and just enjoy life. That's the beauty of fashion done right.
The picture above is of Emily Wilkens in one of her own designs. Note the brooch tucked into feminine and gently flopping bow. Later, Miss Wilkens became a spa and beauty expert and always maintained a happy youthful insouciance. I simply cannot get enough of her.
Emily Wilkens' suggestion to keep jousting for beauty and style is something I take seriously. Many people lament that no one dresses well anymore and there is truth in that. In a world where yoga pants are worn all day and pajamas are allowed in restaurants, I'm going to continue to fight the good fight against all that's base and banal. I mastermind the narrative of my life by wearing my best clothes with as much elan as I can find in the far reaches of my jewelry box and scarf drawer. My valiant fight begins again every morning.