Sunday, November 7, 2010



Although I am not its slave by any means, I have to admit that I’ve always found fashion endlessly entertaining, setting aside an evening each month to read both Vogues, US and UK, cover to cover.  With a cup of hot tea and a gingersnap or two at the ready, I get lost in the exuberant creativity that teems between those glossy covers. The visionary work of artists such as photographer Tim Walker, or stylist Grace Coddington, often rocks me back on my heels.  I pore over the tailoring of a Stella McCartney suit, marvel at the boundless imagination stitched into an Alexander McQueen gown and always close the issue completely inspired and often rather hungry for a new pair of boots, or at least a change of lipstick.  To me, fashion is an art form as vital any other and I’m always fascinated by how people express themselves sartorially.

 One of my favourite pastimes is to sit in a cafe and people watch.  As I study their clothing, I imagine them all a few hours earlier, sleepily rummaging through their closets, deciding what to put on for the day. 
 Did they examine themselves in the mirror before leaving? 
 Did they change once, or twice, before giving approval to their ensemble?  
What made that person choose the blue coat over the red one?  
 That gentleman’s tie in a prominent plaid?  Was it a gift, or did he choose it for himself?  
 I notice how often best friends seem to dress alike, right down to the shoes and the handbags.  Rarely do I see a preppy with a rocker, or an artist with a senator’s wife.  Curious.
I create back stories for the people I observe, much like Miss Marple at a seaside hotel.  This one went to Wellesley, but veered from the path set out for her and left in her second year to travel through Asia.  And despite her impeccable black suit and red-soled heels, that one is chafing in a corporate career; her jewelry gives her away. 

Now I am well aware this is a pretty superficial analysis on my part, and I doubt I would ever wish to volunteer my wardrobe for such scrutiny.  But I do feel that how we choose to dress speaks volumes about us, telling the world who we are, or often, who we wish to be.  Just think of the two Hepburns, Audrey and Kate.  Didn’t their wardrobes tell us so much about their very different personalities?  Today I love to watch Cate Blanchett or Tilda Swinton, both masters at dressing to reveal or accentuate their delightful individuality.  And I was happy to read, just this week, that Harper’s Bazaar UK  named the luminous actress Carey Mulligan, pictured below, as the best dressed woman of the year.  Her unique style sets her apart from the pack, beautifully.

My mother tells me that from an early age I had most definite opinions about my wardrobe.  Even now, I am rather impervious to trends.  But I can still be surprised by secret facets of my own personality, unknown parts of my psyche just waiting to be given voice.  By way of example,  I was once boutique shopping for a fancy dress occasion The Songwriter and I were scheduled to attend.  Not finding anything that charmed me, I was preparing to leave the dressing room when the elderly saleslady opened my door and said, “Here dear, do try this on.  I think it would be perfect for you.”.  She handed me a dress I would have never pulled off the rack in a million years.  Gold (!), with a deep vee neck and metallic threads running through the fabric, I held it out in front of me, and fixed it with my most disdainful stare.  But thinking it might be worth a giggle, I decided to slip it on.  Turning to face the mirror, I was astounded.  It was lovely.  I felt like a princess.  I couldn’t purchase it fast enough. Who knew?   I had obviously unlocked a hidden room down one of the side hallways of my nature, and discovered that golden dress waiting patiently inside.  That, I suppose, is the fun of fashion.  As we grow and change on this twisting journey of days, clothing helps us translate ourselves in colour, texture and style.

My purchases so far this winter season have been a divine red tartan jacket,
 black and tweed spectator shoes
 and a fabulous pair of grey trousers, in a size smaller than last year!  
How about you?


  1. Hi Pamela,
    Well, I do love fashion, but on my terms. I am not a slave to fashion, but I know what I like. I spent many a long hour in Biba in my youth. We used to stay there all day, trying on clothes, sampling the deep burgundy make-up, lounging on velvet and leather sofas and peering around the huge palms, to see which one of The Beatles, Rolling Stones or The Who had walked in !!It was the best clothes store EVER !!
    My latest purchases are a new pair of boots with buckles, yet another frock tailcoat ( I could open my own shop !!) and a new necklace which is long, with a vintage inspired engraved pocket watch with beautiful glass stones trapped inside.I must now stop buying fashion and concentrate on Christmas presents !! XXXX

  2. One of my goals by next September is to meet my own personal 100 Thing Challenge. As I pare down my wardrobe, I am astounded at the number of classic clothing I keep - and not all planned for long years; some bought spur of the moment have worked in multiple ways. A Pendelton cotton shirt, a birthday gift from my father; a thick cotton sweater; a beaded wool sweater which is my holiday frock staple, bought after a surgery at the encouragement of my normally frugal mother. Yes, fashion is fun, particularly when it is surprising :).

  3. Hi Panela,
    Thank you for the wonderful intro picture. So like those of the twenty's and Erte'. I do love to look at others fashions but mine seem to always be the same. I never throw or give away anything that I really like. My latest love is a red Alpace jacket, a knee length sleeveless over sweater for cool days and outmoded jeans. I do find that all fashion reflects personality and is very individual and most of all a loving reflection of the personality.

  4. Oh dear...I'm wondering what my wardrobe says about my personality.

    I'm not big on fashion but I do love to watch Project Runway.

  5. I love fashion, but do my pouring over Vogue and Harper's at the hairdressers!
    And couture is an art form, I think.
    So far this winter - black leather handbag with painted skull and loveheart on it (plus red handles), sand-coloured ribbed cardigan (no buttons) with fake fur shawl collar and finally knee-length brown boots with sheepskin tops. All proving indispensable!

  6. poring! No spilt coffee, I assure you.

  7. I just found your blog recently, and I have to say it is a pleasure to visit. Your pictures are amazing and your writing is so engaging!

  8. Hi,
    I think that fashion is fascinating and it's also piece of art. It's fun !


  9. I've just seen the photo - Walking through Autumn - in the sidebar. edward and Wilf are identical from all angles.

  10. I love the story of the gold dress waiting to be discovered. It's a beautiful metaphor for how we are reflected in others, and that we should be open to what they see in us. And vice versa. So lovely.

  11. Mine would all be a size larger so it's better not to think about it! You'd certainly cut a dash in that ensemble in the pic though!

  12. I also love to sit in a cafe and watch people. I image them in paintings. Wonder if I am being observed in the same fashion? And made me think of those items that are pushed into the back of the closet.

  13. Pamela, didn't you feel just divine!! There are many times I have thought that , oh my I could never wear that; lo and behold!!

    I love to see the gorgeous gowns, while lounging in my yoga pants and a cahmere pullover...

    Art by Karena

  14. I don't have much new this year worth mentioning, but, we just got in from a wedding. We were late in leaving as I couldn't get myself put together (for I am up in a size, not down) and finally, I put some satin slacks and a jacket on BUT, my best buy ever from a few years ago that never, ever fails me, wrapped a gold, silk Italian shawl, scalloped and embroidered just so. I love to wear and folks always come up and admire my scarf, no matter what is underneath.

  15. ......agree, fashion is an art form, I've always LOVED it because my mother was a dressmaker and I grew up wearing lovely clothes. Fabric has always been my great love, even my brother was in the British 'rag trade' for years before moving the France.

    Visited a nearby fab mall last night - Anthro, L'Occitane, Restoration Hardware, Nordstrom etc. - then sat in the window seat of a restaurant enjoying hazelnut crusted pumpkin ravioli and Cesar salad, watching life in Fall fashions walk by. Some fabulous outfits (this is a very upscale mall!) others a complete mess with no idea!

    My new bits for this season and upcoming Winter include a great find at Nordstrom Rack last night - the most beautiful Cole Hahn deep brown, very tall, riding boots, absolutely gorgeous and marked down from $360 to $199 - I grabbed 'em and will wear constantly. My few other purchases so far, more boots (love boots!), short sage green suede Lucky Brand cowgirl boots to wear with tweedy knee length skirt and leggings with rolled top crunchy knit socks - an above knee length marled black/grey sweater dress..........then throw over the aging, but much-loved, black LL.Bean knee length faux sheepskin coat and I'll be ready for the cold. (Yes, LLBean did great faux, lightweight but warm, washable sheepskin vests, jackets and coats).

    Ah, Carey Mulligan - what a natural charmer - she will go far, as an actress and woman. Meanwhile envisioning you in that dress makes me think you were as lovely as any model in those high-powered mags.

    Love your post - sending warm thoughts.

  16. I like the way you think Pamela, always have and always will. Wouldn't you know it, my style is all over the place. I am happiest in what I am wearing now. Jeans, boots, cashmere sweater, scarf and my big earthy woven cape which I wrap to great length and hold together with a hand crafted pin. Gloves are a must and when it is rainy my Akubra hat tops it off. My recent purchase was a chocolate brown suede saddle bag that suits me to a T for trips in and out of the city. No great shakes, but it is me and I feel good...

    Best wishes for a wonderful week Pamela.

    Jeanne xx

  17. A gold dress! You bought a gold dress. I, in my sweatshirt and jeans, am green with envy.

    I agree with you about fashion being an art; I love looking at Vogue and Marie Claire, and I even miss Project Runway now that it's over for the season.

  18. My first pair of stretch jeans. Wow who would of thunk that jeans could be that comfortable. In a size 2 no less...16 weeks of weight watchers has paid off into this wonderful reward of these jeans. Oh yeah, the biggie, and I know this really sounds nuts but my first pair of high heels. wow...I’m finally allowing myself to grow up.

  19. FABULOUS post.

    My best friend in Houston and I have had, for years, the strange knack of buying the same clothing and accessories. It got to the point where we had to warn each other about what we were going to wear . . . as we turned up in the same ensemble more than once. It does make gift-giving extremely easy, though.

    It's a bit of a contradiction, but I tend to admire people who either (1) know what their "uniform" is, and stick to it or (2) treat every day as dress-up, and wear all of the colours/styles that more conservative dressers eschew. I ADORE colour, but when I look at my own wardrobe there is a lot of blue, brown and gray. (I need to find that hidden gold room in myself, I guess.)

    btw, congrats to you for working your way down in pants size! It must have been your veggie diet this long, hot summer. :)

  20. p.s. Just saw Carey Mulligan in one of her first roles: the BBC production of Bleak House. If you haven't seen it, it would be the perfect viewing (all 15 episodes!) for November.

  21. In my youth, my goal was to be as different from anyone else as possible. I was the first girl to wear clogs, which were simply unheard of.I had to purchase them from a catalog out of Denmark. I made all my own clothing which was quite quirky, what a little seamstress I was! Nowadays I must wear "sensible" shoes, but I have dozens of pairs, especially hardy boots. And I do love hats. My goal is no longer to stand out in the crowd, I would rather blend... but with good taste.

  22. I love to shop at Orvis - we have mail order here and I did once go into Orvis in Boston and buy something. At present I am awaiting the arrival of a lovely striped cardigan - and hoping that it arrives before Saturday when the farmer and I are off to a party and i would like to wear it.

  23. hi pamela and edward...enjoyed reading this post...

    so HAPPY to see you at Farmhouse today...always nice to see a friend

    sending love,
    kary and teddy

  24. Love looking trendy, but shopping is such a bother! If I have to go shopping, I am so picky, I take the fun out of it for myself. Yeesh. I need a personal shopper maybe.

  25. I really enjoyed this post Pamela. I love to observe others while sitting at a sidewalk cafe or coffee shop. I have loved fashion as long as I can remember. My mother was quite a beautiful and classy dresser and everything looked gorgeous on her 5 ft. 10 frame. I agree though, fashion allows us to somehow express ourselves in so many ways. I was always a bit brave in school, wearing the next trend, but not without ridicule. I've purchased so far a black wool jacket with a wide loose ruffle along the bottom and cuffs. I'm wanting to add a pair of motorcycle style black boots, pencil leg gray cord.'s, & a tweed pencil shirt & a field jacket. Hoping I'll finally get to wear them in bonny Scotland. I think I need a tartan jacket too

    Have a lovely Tuesday xx

  26. Hmm? I'm definitely a cozy chic kinda gal, jeans with some cute boots..that's my staple! Love your blog by the way!

  27. Hi Pamela...Thank you for reminding me how much fun people watching can be! I love that you create stories in your mind for some of the passersby that grab your attention. Clothing says so much about us doesn't it? (There could be a 50 page narrative behind just one hat.) That's why I adore fashion too. It's such a brilliant means to express our creativity and personality. Not only does it speak to us, but what we wear speaks to the world around us...and I think it can be a very positive force. Lovely post!


  28. Oh, I love, love, love clothes and fashion. Autumn and winter are my favorite seasons to dress and buy for.
    I create back stories on people I see, as well. Isn't it the most fun?

  29. Once upon a time, I aspired to be a fashion designer. I designed and drew my clothes on my super-skinny Twiggy era models. I made my own patterns and sewed my own creations. I even made my sister's first wedding dress.

    Nothing fancy, mind you, but it WAS a wedding dress.

    Now? While I appreciate THE ART of fashion, I just couldn't care less about BEING fashionable. My clothing purchases so far this season - a five pack of drawers and three pairs of black socks. Walmart.

    Now, THAT'S stylin'!

  30. Over and over I have told myself that I will dress in a way that makes me feel beautiful. But I don't. Everyday I don practical and clunky clothes, choosing comfort over style. I don't wear make up and I don't fashion my hair.

    Shopping has long been a strained and even humiliating experience. All those people, the heat and discomfort, and worst of all, repeatedly being passively shunned because the shop has nothing in my size. Or being confined to the corner in the back of the shop called "plus."

    I think I would love fashion if someone else did all the work for me. I don't think I will ever get around to it.

  31. I do love to people watch too! I could sit for hours and look at what each has decided to wear...and I had to laugh when I read your comment about friends always wearing similar styles...This is so true! Unbeknownst to each other, my best friend and I bought the same blouse far we haven't worn it at the same time:)

    I haven't bought anything new this year...trying to pare down the closet...and lose weight:)

  32. My daughter has a special knack for fashion, including an understanding of the importance of accessorizing. Something that took me until I was 40 just to begin to realize.

    You have such a special talent for writing. This is a beautiful piece - more than worthy to be in an issue of the US and UK Vogue you enjoy so much.

  33. What a great post! How do you do it every time?

    My best buy this winter has been a nearly-new pair of knee high Camper boots in oxblood red. For €3 at a jumble sale!!
    I love clothes so much, always have thanks to my mother-the-dress-maker, and rarely leave the house in anything that doesn't include a dress! No tracksuits for me!

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