In Pursuit of Panache

I’m sure many things have been said about me, both good and bad, but there’s one thing I can be certain nobody will ever utter in reference to me, and that is: “I like her style.”

Why? Because, I have no style. Never have, never will.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not one of those non-conformist types who protests social norms by allowing her hair to tangle into dreadlocks, eating organic lentils, playing instruments made out of gourds, and driving a rusted out van containing children named “Rainbow” and “Leaf.”

To the contrary, I’ve always wanted style. I just simply can’t figure out how to get it.

As a kid, I was definitely fashion-challenged. This disability might possibly have been triggered by my mother, who forced me to wear thick yarn hair ribbons, saddle shoes, white knee socks, and polyester dresses topped with white cardigan sweaters until I was in the seventh grade.

By adolescence, any burgeoning fashion sense that may have developed in the recesses of my brain had withered and died, apparently asphyxiated by those stifling cardigan sweaters. I had to master the basics if I was ever going to survive high school, so I armed myself with simple color matching skills, lots of denim, and a pair of brown shoes. My most fashion-forward outfit was an orange wool sweater, a knee-length denim skirt, matching orange knee socks, and my brown shoes. That was as good as it was gonna get.

But this lack of style was not confined to fashion. Try as I might, I could not seem to muster any distinctive flair for music, interior decorating, or culinary skills either.

In an attempt to develop taste in music, I plagiarized my older brother’s favorite mix tapes. But while my peers were shoulder-shimmying to Pat Benatar and moon walking to Thriller, I was too busy trying to decipher the confusing lyrics of songs by Rush and Jethro Tull.

When I was shipped off to college, I couldn’t wait to decorate my first dorm room with my Kliban Cat bedspread and poster of a kitten hanging from a tree that read, “Hang in there, baby!” Little did I know that I’d been randomly matched with a stylish, wealthy, well-traveled roommate who would cringe at the juxtaposition of my décor with her sleek modern bed linens and poster of Château de Chambord.

After marriage, I still seemed be the last one to clue in to the latest trends amongst my peer group. While the other wives were toasting pine nuts, wearing distressed jeans, painting their walls “Claret,” installing aged-bronze fixtures, and listening to Alanis Morrissette, I was obliviously content in my shoulder-pad-reinforced sweater, drinking a Zima over my Williamsburg blue Formica countertop while humming Juice Newton’s “Playing with the Queen of Hearts.”

No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t find my own sense of style. Just when I thought I’d discovered the latest trend, it was already on a clearance rack at Big Lots or on the buffet at Golden Corral.

Mercifully, I have entered Middle Age, the time in life when a sense of style is certainly admired, but optional nonetheless. I can finally stop the fruitless search for the perfect pair of sunglasses and the trendiest wines, and just concentrate on keeping my jeans from creeping too far north of my belly button.

In a way, all my years of lagging behind the latest trends has supplied me with a certain panache that’s totally unique. I’d like to think I have an eclectic “vintage” vibe with a comfortable no nonsense charm; however, I’m certainly aware that others interpret my style as garage sale frump with a touch of interstate truck stop.

It’s OK. There’s more to life than style, and I’m fairly certain that when my time on this Earth comes to a close, I won’t wish I’d cooked with wood sorrel or quinoa. I won’t regret having never owned a pair of ankle boots or harem pants. My dying wish won’t be to hear the latest Black Eyed Peas single. And I certainly won’t long to finally install cork flooring.

I’ll continue happily perfecting my meatloaf recipe and wearing my brown shoes, because, ironically enough, having no style has a style all its own.

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Comments: 4

  1. energywriter February 26, 2012 at 6:35 pm Reply

    Lisa,
    We must be sisters, at least in the style realm. At 66 I’m still trying to figure out what my style is. I’ve finally determined that if it isn’t dirty, torn or exposing wrinkled body parts it’s acceptable.

    • Lisa Smith Molinari February 26, 2012 at 6:45 pm Reply

      That’s become my philosophy too, but here I am living in Florida where body parts, wrinkled or not, must be exposed unless one is in the market for heat stroke! It ain’t pretty!

  2. Chris February 26, 2012 at 6:11 pm Reply

    You know I read all of your blogs….I think you have ranked my fashion sense way too high. (lol)

    Love you!

    • Lisa Smith Molinari February 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm Reply

      Oh no Chris, you were definitely on the opposite end of the style spectrum from me and my low budget get ups! All your labels were designer, and you were stuck with me and my discount rack duds (double meaning there) and decor. How did you ever survive four years with me?

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