It’s time for another Style Icon post…
looking for the roots of my sense of style, and my attitude towards clothes in general. This time I want to discuss smart casual, that elusive concept of dressing well while skillfully avoiding looking too formal or too casual. It’s often quite a challenge, except for my always very stylish mother.
She could have invented smart casual: she always managed to look effortlessly elegant. You know, like the woman who looks like she just got up and put on the first thing she found, and just somehow manages to be the most elegant woman in the room… I’m sure you’ve met someone like that, we all have.
Anyway, this is my mother at her most casual (early 70s):
No hoodies or jeans for her… or whatever the 70s equivalent was. She wanted to look ‘presentable’, even when wearing something relaxed. You can imagine that she had a few issues with my faded / ripped jeans and studded leather jackets in the 80s… Then again, she should have expected me to rebel a bit, what with all those frilly dresses and bows she made me wear when I was a child…
And the smarter end of smart casual?
There were times when my mother put quite a bit more effort into her outfits: holiday (vacation for my American readers) outfits in particular had to be more sophisticated (late 70s-early 80s):
It’s still a far cry from formal… Comfort was always important for her: nothing too tight or constricting. She wanted to be able to move freely and walk comfortably in her shoes. But comfort always had to go hand in hand with being trendy: these relaxed late 70s looks ooze easy glamour:
Of course, it helps if you look good in earth tones… In summer she always had that slightly sunkissed look: a nice, even tan that looked just perfect with her neutral palette of colours.
And me? I may have my mother’s bone structure but I certainly don’t have her skin tone: 15 minutes in the sun and I turn bright pink…. which is why I tend to avoid exposing myself to sunlight like a vampire with acute Porphyria…
My mother didn’t always wear neutrals: in fact, if she had a signature colour, it was blue. She usually favoured navy, but she was no stranger to other shades of blue, either, especially in summer. This early 70s picture of her wearing a cornflower blue sweater has always been one of my favourites.
And if you’re wondering where my obsession for blue and white Breton stripes comes from, look no further (right: early 70s / left: early 80s):
So, this is the example I have to live up to, as if smart casual wasn’t tricky enough… But I will do my best and post a 70s inspired smart casual look of my own on Sunday.
Who is your style icon?
For more posts on my mother’s style, go to Style Icon