Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Girls in Summer Dresses

It was hot this weekend when I was in New York, the sort of hot that inspires women and girls to enjoy their femininity and wear flirty little dresses. I was happy to participate in this ritual with the one dress I had packed for my trip. This dress, a recent purchase, reflects my ongoing search for clothes which celebrate being a woman, which reveal (but not too much!) the body, which say , "I'm proud of who I am, but not trying to look like a kid". (I often come up empty-handed in this search, and thus the seeds of inspiration for 50/50. But more about that in an upcoming post.)

My 16 year old niece was busy debuting her newest summer dress, albeit a dress her mother deemed way too revealing. It got me thinking about the complete change in thinking that young women of today have about their bodies than we had when I was growing up. OK, not complete change, but considerable progress in terms of acceptance of their bodies. My generation was the generation that was not allowed to wear pants to school (!), that got sent home for skirts being too short, that defied convention by abandoning our bras (more or less successfully, depending on our anatomy) but still obeyed so many of the rules of propriety. As we blazed our pioneering paths in our careers, our independence, and our roles as mothers, we often ended up adopting fairly conservative styles of dress. To us, being daring was wearing jeans to work.

Now we have a generation of daughters who we raised to be far more comfortable with their bodies than we ever were. We have told them to accept their unique shapes, colors, and sizes - and they have! Their comfort with skin-tight clothing, low-slung pants, and plunging necklines, regardless of body type, is truly a tribute to this change in attitude. And oh my God, what have we created!

We can certainly learn from them. As I explore fashion, I often hear a little voice in my head saying "I could never wear that". Or I hear my friends say ,"Oh no!" when I suggest they try on something new. The question back needs to be, "Why not?". "Because I never have, because I am embarrassed about my body, because it draws attention to me" are not good enough answers. Listen to our daughters. Feel comfortable in our skin. Enjoy summer dresses and sway our hips a little when we walk in them. That advice certainly felt good to me this weekend!

1 comment:

  1. This is a total non-sequitur to the true meaning of your post, but...

    One of the things I dislike about San Francisco's style is that women here don't know how to dress when the weather warms up. We can combine layers and scarves and boots and knee socks to beautiful effect, but send us an 80-degree day, and we're lost.

    No matter how much we may want to rock the little sundresses, tank tops and espadrilles... these are simply not the stuff of San Francisco summers.