Monday, May 2, 2011

Exploring Art, Attire and Personal Style: Beginnings

So the other day I was browsing through my collection of downloaded podcasts I haven't listened to yet.  Geesh, I think I may listen to a few too many...  But one of them, on a podcast called Art and Soul, had a title that really intrigued me: "You're the Canvas: An Artful Approach to Personal Style".

Hm.  Now wait a minute.  Art?  Personal Style?  Clothing?  I had to listen.

For the next 50 minutes, I listened to guest author Jennifer Robin talk about her new book, Growing More Beautiful, and what she thinks about clothing, fashion, lipstick, and her particular way with style.

And I had to get the book.  Now, mind you, I'm a guy.  This book has a big emphasis on the concept of beauty as women age.  Not necessarily my demographic.  But I just had to have it.

It came in the mail today.  And I've read the first two chapters,  and I have to share.

Get this book.  Today.

I have never read a book by an artist on style.  This is the first one to be written!  Jennifer Robin started as a personal stylist and then shifted into painting, finding that she could use her sensibilities regarding color in clothing and apply them to canvas.   Then, coming full circle, she writes this book combining her two disciplines.

And the first two chapters are practically a manifesto for combining one's artistic approach to life with feeling good about your appearance.  It's not anti-fashion in the least--it's about using fashion instead of letting it use you.  It's about having the confidence to wear what makes you feel good, and realizing that very choice makes you appear more beautiful to everyone else.

I was unnerved a bit... I started feeling like Roberta Flack singing "Killing Me Softly".   Ms. Robin had articulated a great deal of what I was struggling with in my quest to wrap my head around fashion and wearable art.  She had explained away in print much of the debate, dichotomy, contradictions, and outright frustration that I was experiencing.  This book has some of the concepts I need that will help me focus my efforts to make creative art wear, get it to those who want it, and continue to provide attire that makes people feel good!

The book itself is gorgeous.  The photography and artwork are stunning, the layout clean, the type easy to read.  It's a pleasure just to leaf through it.  But more than that, it shares a path toward embracing an approach that is non-prescriptive--it's really up to you.  It's stuffed with tools and exercises that are actually mentally stimulating, philosophically provoking, and eminently useful.

In the first two chapters she spends a lot of time talking about her salt and pepper grey hair (to dye or not to dye), her frustrations with judgmental friends (to tuck or not to tuck the shirt), body image (Are models really attractive?  Really?), and aging (youth isn't 'all that').  She borders on "touchy-feely do-goodness", but her observations are grounded and authentic, and just downright practical and smart.  She doesn't just tell stories--she helps the reader apply her examples and experiences to their own lives clearly and cogently.  She's smart.  And she's real.

I'm going to be talking more about the concepts in this book as I read more, but I thought I'd share how excited I am about it now.  Check out the video interview, and until next time Live Life with Relish!

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