We Are Styling Our Lives, Still
By Karen and Erica
Fashion fades. Style is eternal. So said Coco Chanel and Yves Saint Laurent.
We like fashion. Fashion is fun. We love seeing the latest, in beautiful photographs and glossy magazines. Usually on people younger and skinnier than we are, but that's OK. Because what really matters to us is style. And because we understand style--our own--we know that fashion is there to give us ideas about how to articulate our style, which has evolved over the years but has always been very personal.
Style is much more than clothes. It is a way of thinking, of walking, of speaking--developed over time. It is making choices, with confidence, that reflect we are and what we want and how we project our image. Our hair, our makeup, our sunglasses, our watches. Our books, our politics, the plays we like, the plays we don’t. Where we live, where we travel. Style is us. As we have evolved.
Women of the Lustre cohort were pretty much obliged to invent their personal styles when they entered the workforce. At first, many of us felt we needed to look like men, and act like men, and live like men. For a while, we signaled that by wearing blue suits with oxford cloth shirts and mannish silk ties. It was funky, and it was personal, but it was a failure of imagination. Too derivative. And a lot of those clothes didn't really fit our curves.
After a while, most of us we realized we needed to come out as women. We needed to wear clothes designed for women, heels invented for women, colors that made us happy. We had to carry bags big enough to hold tons of paper, but they didn't have to be ugly brown leather clunkers. Purple works just fine to hold stuff.
Our personal style really emerged once we developed a little confidence. Once we realized women could make themselves accepted, we wore shocking pink suits to court--and won. We wore elegant, slouchy silk pantsuits a la Greta Garbo to board meetings, and were listened to. We created lives in which work was central, and nothing was very balanced, but we lived our lives our way. And we looked the way we wanted to look.
We need all that style again, to create the image of who we are now--an image rather like the women we were before we retired. No longer in careers, but living purposefully, reveling in work and play and family. Our personal style is different now that we are no longer fixtures in corporate America--we are free now to be even bolder in how we express ourselves and how we live and look. But our style still reflects us.
Our style will change retirement. Fashion is sure to catch up, just like it did in the 60s and 70s. But style will lead the way.