Several months ago, I read that there are over a million different ways in which people individually process thought which means that even when we think we're on the same page, going in the same direction, we're not. We're on our own page, going in our own direction, with some similar but not identical pages nearby.
Add to individual thought processing the fact that we all see through our own experiences and paradigms - meaning that whatever experience someone else is having is layered over and coloring the experience that I am having - and we're definitely not having the same conversation. Even though it looks like it. No matter how I explain it, I cannot explain my experience in someone else's language in a way that they will completely and totally understand on every level.
Put that way, it's amazing that anyone understands themselves never mind another person. I find quizzes around how we think, our personality type, or our fashion personality, or information about people born on our birth day or in our birth month all of great interest. They always contain elements of the truth. Some are closer than others to what I perceive as the real me but none are ever exact.
While I was sewing for Jessica, a number of people (not just on the blog) referred to me as a perfectionist. I was discussing this with my friend Patti the other day because I don't view myself as a perfectionist and yet many people do. She, on the other hand, does view herself a perfectionist and I don't see her that way at all which means that we each define ourselves - or not - as a perfectionist based on what we think a perfectionist is. Oh dear... where's the dictionary and... do we all interpret it the same anyway - LOL.
What I think is that some of my characteristics contribute to the perfectionist impression when they are actually quite separate and not at all the same thing. For instance, I'm extremely organized and highly efficient. Systems come to me easily and I typically finish a task in about a third of the time it takes other people. Doing things quickly gives you a lot more free time comparatively.
I'm also a minimalist and less stuff means less to look after and requires less space to store and less time to maintain which equals more free time and less visible clutter all of which somehow lead to the impression that I'm constantly cleaning and polishing which is SO NOT TRUE. I cleaned yesterday for the first time in three weeks. I just fake it well !
It's not perfectionism. It's an ongoing thirst for knowledge and a fascination with puzzles and challenges. I like to figure out how things work and then make them work even better which is why I'll sew the same thing - say a fitting shell - over and over until it fits exactly the way I want. It's a quest to know and understand AND THEN...
... I love to pass that learning on or to utilize it in new ways. When I measured my daughter, I knew right away that she needed similar alterations to me through the upper chest, waist, and back hip. What took me 3 1/2 years to learn about myself, too two minutes to apply to her. I saw it and organized her information around that fact.
She called yesterday.
The tops and skirt arrived. They all fit. They are all wearable. They could all use a bit of fine-tuning and that's the best case scenario we'd hoped for. How exciting. I told her the blog would like a few pictures and she's thinking it over. Like me, she's not very comfortable in front of a camera which is interesting because on many, many levels, I understand my daughter, I recognize ways in which we think alike and behave similarly and yet, she's completely and totally her own woman. There are things she does that I can't even imagine doing and yet she excels at and is challenged by them. It fascinates me.
As does the question who am I? This week, I've been wondering if I'll ever be dressed in a way that I think reflects who I truly am and if I do somehow manage to get dressed, will I be able to maintain the look? I don't seem to ever meet my goal of how I want to express myself and how I want other to see me but I've met people that I imagine have it all figured out. Perhaps they do. Perhaps they don't. Have you managed to consistently dress you? If so, how?
I know it's all in the details... and the packaging... which has me still thinking about the quote below from Bobbie Thomas' book - The Power of Style. How many times have you had someone tell you that a garment looks "just like you" and you think, oh my gosh, really, please God no, they can't possibly think that's me.
So when I talk about style, I'm talking about an image that feels real to you and resonates as genuine to others. When there is incongruence, you may find you are not saying what you want, which can result in your not getting what you want from life..... So if the mirrors in your life are showing you a person who isn't who you think you are or who you want to be, there's a good chance you're projecting a style that isn't your own, or at least not your most desired.
My friend Barb took these garment pictures while we were out snoop shopping. My daughter thinks the leopard print top I'm wearing is simply ghastly, that it looks like an old woman trying too hard. I think it's fun - just like I think my new purple zebra print pajama pants will be fun and - even so - I wouldn't classify myself as a animal print kind of person. Just a touch now and then when it appeals to me in some interesting way and yet, someone noting that I have two or three animal print garments might think I'm an animal print person and it wouldn't be true. And if they bought me an animal print gift because of what they believed about me, I'd be stuck with it and that seems the way in which we become someone we're not.
The key to not having this happen seems to be consistent packaging. Why does that sound boring?
In their book 10 Steps To Fashion Freedom: Discover Your Personal Style From The Inside Out, authors Malcolm Levene and Kate Mayfield teach wearing an extremely limited number of colors - somewhere in the range of three to five although I'd need to reread the book to confirm that number - and by colors, I mean a specific shade of a hue as in primrose blue and not just blue.
When I first read the book, I contacted them and booked an opportunity to work together and then I cancelled it because there was no way that I could ever maintain wearing the same colors always. It felt like a prison and yet isn't it interesting that I wear predominately black, denim blue, and a specific shade of my three favorite colors along with statement jewelry. I'm practically doing what they suggest only I arrived at that "formula" through my own evolution and thought processing.
Years later, long after declining the opportunity, I can see some applicable wisdom in their teachings and yet, I still don't want that prison. I want room to move and evolve and I've come to believe that the reason I've never managed to feel like I'm completely expressing myself is because the self I'm trying to express is a moving target, always changing, always learning more about and re-inventing herself. Some things remain consistent; others always shift.
The back cover of Bobbie's book says that along with other practical advice, I'll learn to discover my six best colors and why they matter and the twelve most flattering cuts for my body type. That wouldn't be new information. I've read a lot of these books. I've discovered that information already. Several times. What I seem to be looking for now is ways to make those colors and cuts more fun, more experimental, more chic-avant-garde, more me.
When I'm out snoop shopping, it's the details that intrigue me. The shirt detail above is on a classic, princess seamed, button up shirt with a collar. What's different is the way it's put together... with a twist... that's not at all basic. How many trial tops do you think it would take me to figure out those twists? I can totally see myself making sample after sample to figure it out and - LOL - it wouldn't be perfectionism. It would the challenge and the uniqueness and the opportunity to express myself in a way that resonates more clearly. THAT's where I'm at - at individuality and creativity and uniqueness. All I hope is that I can somehow sew and wear and express that image consistently onward from some point in my life... or... VBG... at least enjoy the journey - because - it seems to be a long one.
Elements that help are knowing the colors that work for me, knowing the shapes and styles that work for me, and a willingness to push the envelope. You can push the envelope once and find out that you're wrong, this style won't work for you or you can push it that same one time and discover a shape you'd never contemplated before and that discovery will lead you to other similar shapes.
Marcy's Vogue 8499 skirt was one of those experiments. I liked the shape and I believed it would make me look all hips and I tried it anyway and it turned out to be a favourite skirt. Since then, I've come to adore that belled shape which is why I tried her V8876 dress and why I'll be trying her Vogue 8934 coat. Risking just a little can lead us on exciting adventures. It's nicely coincidental that I would like more coats in my collection.
I was thinking about that the other day. It's not my personality to have a lot of anything but I'm not sure if that's because of who I am or because of how I grew up which was not in poverty but also not with a lot of excess. I never had a lot of multiples whether it was pants, dresses, coats, shoes, and so on and I don't now... and I don't want excess... but I would like more choices and variety. I'm so not used to them though that sometimes I'll sew another coat and then forget to wear it. It's interesting to try and change in such an engrained area - like this year's attempt to sew a collection of summer dresses.
I finished my zebra pants yesterday - sort of. When I tried them on, the width is perfect but the crotch length is still too long. I've sewn this pattern a gazillion times as is and now I'm fine tuning it which - I believe - shows growth and learning in my sewing. I'd also like the elastic tighter so I'll take it off, cut the top an inch lower, and then reapply a smaller elastic. The velvet ribbon is to mark the back. It's soft against the skin and a fun touch that makes it easier to define the front and back. See the organization and efficiency? It shows up everywhere. Details. Love them.
The image of the dress in the first pictures shows the back. Hmm... bustle material. The tricks that pleats can play are quite intriguing. The top is sewn from a lace that reminds me of a fabric in my stash and a Katherine Tilton pattern. The possibility of combining those two tickles. And the twists - aren't those fabulous ! ! ! ! ! ! ...... I definitely want to experiment with those only later... right now...
... I'm on mess maintenance. When I cleaned the studio on Sunday, I just threw everything into the bottom of the closet which added more to the pile that was already there after a severe case of chuckitis. I need to sort and clean. And I have a reason.
My friend Caroline is not at all judgmental. She's a through thick and thin, I'll take you as you are, kind of friend BUT... having her come to stay for a week and knowing that we'll be cooking together and that she'll want to look at my fabric and pattern stash is great incentive to get things cleaned up. It's always nice to have motivation. Yesterday, I did the fridge. Today, it's the stash closet and - hopefully - the pattern drawer. I have two appointments as well.
Talk soon - Myrna
Grateful - wearable muslins for Jessica