My dear late grandmother may not have been the most fashion forward of ladies, but she was always impeccably dressed. The styles of the 40’s and 50’s were her defining era, and she carried over a lot of lessons from those into her later years. She also taught me a lot about how to dress, and how to make sure you always look, to use one of her favourite modern expressions, fly as hell.
So here are five style notes from my grandmother.
Know your shape
It doesn’t matter what that shape is, or what your size is. It’s a fact of clothing design that some things will suit or fit some body types better than others. Grandma always knew what suited her, and she had a way of giving herself a waist when her figure really didn’t have one. She was very straight up and down with small hips, and always managed to draw attention to her waist with a belt or other visual cue on whatever she was wearing. Instant hourglass, which was the desired silhouette back in her day.
Invest in good shoes
I’m not talking about a pair of shoes that will last a season. We’re talking shoes that will last years. Grandma had shoes in her closet that are older than me. It’s not a crime to pay a lot of cash for a decent set of footwear that will see you through all seasons and possibly last decades.
Find your colours
There’s tons of places that will ‘do your colours’ for you. I won’t name them here. I’ve always been a bit skeptical of them simply because someone I know had a consultation with them and came away with a set of colours that didn’t suit her. I’ve always thought that trying stuff on in various colours is the best way to find what suits you, because you might find you suit colours that are so far removed from what is ‘prescribed’ to you. Grandma’s wardrobe was a study in navy, camel and grey with a few blasts of hot pink and scarlet in there, usually as a cardigan to lift whatever neutral she was wearing under it. My favourite outfit of hers was her bright fuschia pink cardigan, pastel blue jumper for underneath and black skirt. She looked fabulous in it. And yes, you can rock hot pink into your nineties. She did.
If in doubt, accessorise
Scarves. Brooches. Necklaces. Rings. Belts. You name it, Grandma used it. Not all at the same time, but she knew how to lift an outfit by chucking on a scarf (she had some Hermes ones in her collection that are incredible and probably worth a bit now) or a string of pearls. She’s partly the reason I have so many necklaces. You don’t quite need a necklace for every outfit, but more is more, right?
Rock what you wear
The biggest thing for anyone to remember is to just own what you’re wearing. Love how you look. Be confident. So you’re just nipping to the corner shop in your short shorts and My Little Pony t-shirt – who cares? Rock it. Step out there and feel awesome. Grandma certainly did. And don’t fret the tiny details. Believe me, nobody is going to look at the frayed hem on your skirt, or notice that your necklace is in need of a polish. Just wear the thing without shame.
One final note…
Always carry a clean handkerchief.