Sydney Style

Posted by Jill Chivers in My Story

Glimmering Sydney

 Hello and welcome to blog #70! It’s a glorious Sunday and I’ve just gotten home from being in Sydney for the last few days. Gotta love that city! It is Australia’s edgiest and paciest city – I think I can say that without fear of too much heated debate. Sydney is a bit of a siren herself, don’t you think? It is a city that just demands to be looked at in awe. It demands attention and mostly, we’re happy to give it.

Just on that “siren” thing that I wrote about in the last blog piece… I’ve been trying out those four personality dressing names since they came out of the vault that is my brain. (for those who need a quick reminder, the names are: The Suit, The Siren, The Subversive and The Sandwich… or just go back to that post and read it again).
 

Do they fit? At this national conference I’ve been attending, and in my own observations in walking around the Emerald City, I’ve been ‘trying on’ those categories — you know, applying them to real live breathing human women and seeing if they ‘fit’ or not. And you know what I’ve discovered? Those categories really work! You can see people who are dressed as Sandwiches or Sirens, Suits or Subversives… And you can also see those women who have combined two categories — Suited Sirens or Subversive Sandwiches.

And you know what else I discovered? Those categories generate a lot of discussion — every single woman I have mentioned them to wants to know more. They say “what’s a Sandwich? And how do you know I am one?”. I was also asked “how am I a Suit? How am I dressing that makes me one?”. And my favourite was “how could I be more like a Siren?”. Women get those categories, and they seem to like them. Who’d’ve thunk it, from all that silliness?

I’ll write more about those categories in an upcoming post – there’s clearly more to explore.

For today, let’s talk about where style really comes from. Clue: not from the mall. But I don’t want to give away the ending straight away, so please read on!

“When you don’t shop, you have better style”. Ok, that’s an attention grabbing statement, right? I love it! And I can say all that because I didn’t write it. Sarah Wilson did. Sarah is a journalist and writes her own blog as well as being published in an actual print publication – the Sunday Life supplement of the Sun-Herald newspaper. Sarah wrote a piece today on “I don’t buy style“. Well, pack my bags and mount my horse, if that doesn’t get me reading this article in double quick time! I sped through her article, then re-read it to make sure I’d caught the heart of what she’d said.

Here are my favourite bits (called “excerpts” in the literary world, I believe) from Sarah’s article:

  • “when you don’t shop, you have better style”…. Ms Wilson goes on to ‘splain why this is true in her case. She found herself treasure hunting through her wardrobe and discovering all manner of gems that she combined in new and jaunty ways (the Thai silk matinee jacket teamed with the animal print cami was my favourite of those she described – go figure). Could it really be true that style isn’t found in the mall? Whoa.
  • “the momentum to shop builds. And then… I get a grip. Do I really need to trek to the mall?” Indeed. And a great example of how a well-placed rhetorical question can actually be useful. I love how Ms Wilson describes the momentum to shop — how the pull of shopping yanks at our sense of adventure, our sense of self and our sense of escape. It distorts and deranges (to borrow heavily from the lyrics of Annie Lennox) and the only way out is to WAKE UP and get that grip that Ms Wilson suggests. She suggests we ask ourselves if we really need to trek to the mall? Who but the most unconscious of individuals (or those in desperate need of toilet paper and corn flakes) would say YES to that question? The underlying question seems to be: What if what lies within the walls of the mall is not the answer we’re really seeking? Oooh, that’s deep. It’s amazing that something considered so superficial (I’m talking about shopping) has the ability to plumb such depths, isn’t it? Oh, and if you’re wondering, I’m guessing the answer is behind door #2 and is: “no, the answer isn’t at the mall”, aren’t you?
  • “how limiting it is to constantly reach for external solutions… buying something new and “fashionable” (her quotes, yesiree) is all about reaching for an external style salve at the expense of playing freely with your own identity”. Oh, my. Now if that doesn’t echo and build on a point of view I’ve been playing with on this-a-here-y blog over the last few months, I’ll walk to the Gulf in those animal print wedges that make me about 6 foot 2 from blog #5. I love the link to identity that Ms Wilson sneaks into that sentence. It’s like she knows how much depth there is to this topic (shopping isn’t really just shopping), but she doesn’t want to scare us. It’s Sunday, after all. There’s football to be watched and naps to be taken. I love how accessible she makes it — “playing freely with your own identity”… like anyone can do it. We can all play, right? If not the French horn, then at least with the contents of our own wardrobes. And once we start playing at that level, we get to glimpse our identity through a new lens. Who knows what we might discover?

I love finding other people who’s thinking matches my own. Like someone who agrees that Woody Allen’s movies are not all the same. Or I really can continue to eat chocolate whenever I feel like it after turning 4o. And that shopping is not the answer. It’s not even the question.

Thank you Sarah Wilson – I’m with you on your experiential journey to make life more meaningful, happier, sweeter. And I like your style. And I like it even more because it didn’t come from the mall. Right?

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    2 Responses to “Sydney Style”

    1. Hayley Lau says:

      While I would have to disagree that Sydney is Australia’s edgiest city (*Melbourne-dweller ahem*), I’m in total agreement with everything else you wrote and am glad I found your blog.

      I’ve been working on and blogging about why I buy stuff (fashion is my particular addiction) and took an ethical clothing pledge in March. I slipped up once for a pair of pants that I’m getting amazing wear out of, but otherwise I’ve been buying second-hand and making my own stuff.

      I’m increasingly bored by the things in the chain shops (which is a nice deterrent). My style doesn’t work that way anymore. Although, unlike Sarah Wilson, I don’t have a heap of unworn things in my closet to try, I’m still able to explore my personal style better when it’s not being influenced by trends in the shops.

      • Jill says:

        Hayley – ok, ok, Melbourne’s edgy. In it’s own way. Sure. (cough, looks away).

        I’m with you on working out why we buy stuff…. it can be a tricky maze of emotions to work through. Love the idea of an ethical clothing pledge. And yes – it’s easy to be yawningly-bored with what’s dished up in many chain stores…. you sound like you know what your style is. Brilliant!

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