Thursday, November 8, 2012

Climbing the Pyramid

My ability to dress myself - I wouldn't go so far as to call it fashion sense - has admittedly come a long way. That is what I was thinking about a week ago, when I said my outfit had particular resonance to my style journey. That outfit, not particularly daring, nevertheless pairs  a tough denim shirt with a fluffy pleated skirt, mixes red (shoes) with pink (skirt), and incorporates a statement necklace. I would not have done any of those things even two years ago, and certainly not without looking doubtfully in the mirror. As it was, I just grabbed things from my closet, thought about red and pink in the necklace, and ran out the door. 

If there is a Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs in clothing, it leads from wrapping yourself in a blanket to keep warm (physiological), having actual shoes and shirt and pants (security/safety), having an assortment of outfits for various occasions (belonging/society), having clothes that are "nice" or new or otherwise attractive (esteem), and having a wardrobe that is creative and an expression of your self in some way (self-actualization).

And because no idea is new under the sun, here is Zulema's Fashion Hierarchy of Needs:

These days, I often feel at the top of the pyramid, and that is a fundamental change. For many years after I moved to Chicago, fresh out of college, I felt out of step with how everyone dressed. I wondered where women found the right outfits for weddings or work without looking like robots or matrons. I dressed too old or too young. A well-meaning friend said, "You're wearing THAT to church?" I was the perfect candidate for What Not to Wear.

Because I sewed, I knew good fabric and construction, at least, and eventually I found Talbot's and J. Jill. I embraced my inner matron, and comforted myself with the fact that my clothes were well made, if not stylish. That worked for years - I was reaching the third level of the pyramid and occasionally the fourth. Still, I admired friends and co-workers who achieved so much more, who had real style. I figure it was something you were born with (or maybe your mother gave it to you when You Became A Woman). Then I discovered fashion bloggers; non-models who looked great every day, and were generous enough to share their ideas on customizing your wardrobe, being thrifty, loving your body and expressing yourself.


And thanks for reading! Here's what I wore yesterday:

Talbots jacket, Boden skirt, Born boots, necklace from random Cocoa Beach boutique.


  1. the loveliest thing about you, Roberta, is your truly lovely and generous spirit (-: and I'm sure that has always shone through. But having had the chance to witness your style journey on an almost daily basis, I say bravo! It's been fun to follow along (-: AND what would I do without blogs (and of course Pinterest to obsessively catalog that which I covet on blogs), as well. Probably have a whole lot more 'free' time - but what fun would that be!

  2. Hi - my name's Kara, and I've been reading and lurking for a little bit. I'm 28 and I teach music at the elementary school level. I wanted to say how much your comment about fashion bloggers rings true for me too. I never felt put together, always felt out of fashion, dressed mostly too old for my age, and always wondered how other women managed to figure this stuff out! I discovered fashion blogs (yours among them) this summer and it has made a huge difference in my personal style, shopping methods, and confidence. I love that your outfits are very real, things that I can see myself adapting, and are still very fashionable and fun. Just wanted to let you know that you are among those who inspire others! Thank you for posting and sharing your journey.

  3. Kara, what a lovely comment! Frankly, I envy you your personal discovery and journey, with all the fantastic resources available to you. I hope you keep your own diary in some form - it is so much fun to look forward AND back!