Thursday, July 8, 2010

Ask Martha Smith Standish: Should I be a style leader, or follower?

Dear Mrs. Smith Standish,

I am troubled by the following - should I be a style leader or a style follower?

Just sign me,

Unsure of What to Wear

Dear What,

Thank you so much for taking the time to ask my opinion on your predicament.  What with the fashion industry, such as it is, always changing what one should be changing "into", I understand your question, and I have empathy for your quandary.

When I was young, it was very important for some people to fit in with other young people, and clothing - being an outwardly signal of personal (and even political) taste was one way of proving that one was "in the groove" and "with it". 

 I dare say though, in my youth the rules for proper attire were somewhat more structured than it is now. 

For example, we dressed when going shopping because we were acutely aware of who we would see at Halle's or Sterling-Lindner.  Today, a person wearing proper street attire would look totally out of place at Wal-Mart, where the rule of thumb seems to be to dress in man-made fabrics to demonstrate to their maximum strength and support of being able to hold back the damn of fat from a bad diet of cheese doodles and Mountain Dew. 

However, your concern is not the cruel punishment of polyester, but which is better: to be on the forefront of fashion, to follow fashion, or to find a style that suits you and favor it.

My advice is find a happy medium of all three positions, and find those articles of good clothing that bridge the divide.  A timeless suit, made of a good natural fiber will always provide you with a good basis for adding a bit of flair.  A daring brooch or a bold scarf may be all you have comfort for.  In my picture above, while I am wearing sedate colors, by summer suit is raw silk, and blouse is crisp and white for summer.

I do wish to add that it is always important that you dress for the season, and that you dress appropriately for your age.  That is not say that as you grow more mature in years that you have license to become dowdy, but don't fall into the trap of my dear friend Murial Cunningham who hasn't learned that, simply because you could wear hot pants in the 1970s does not give you license to do wear them in your seventies.

Yours in strictness of confidences,



  1. Hey Martha! Are you wearing underwear? I betcha aren't are ya? It's Snatch and Gobble Night tonight at the sailor bar on Folsom, I'll see you there.

  2. Peenee - Martha sends her regrets, but she's at Camp Top Ridge with Marjorie Merriwether Post. But she did say that if you see her son Bruce out - and he's easily recognizable by his fondness for black leather - to say "Hello" and "Do be a dear and call Mother." She also send you a tennis kiss!