The Word You’re Looking for Is “Style”

I found myself, this morning, waiting for the elevator with an attractive guy about my age. He was wearing light colored dress pants, a crisp white shirt and tie, and carrying a leather portfolio. I briefly assessed myself. I have a cute ensemble on— a shirtdress with pink, orange, and periwinkle octagons, paired with periwinkle sandles. Colorful and maybe a touch short, but not unprofessional.

But then, I took another step back from myself and assessed further. I was standing there, holding my work bag, of springy green squares and triangles, which contained my laptop cover of yellow with blue polka dots. And my purse, which is a melange of green-on-white polka dots and a floral print of green flowers against light-blue background and brown scrollwork. And I was chastened to admit that my look might have gone well past quirky.

It’s hard to pinpoint where it all went off the rails. I used to carry understated brown or black bags, and wear brown or black shoes. I used to dress in black or beige. Charcoal and navy seemed such a safe departure, but looking back, maybe they were a gateway I just didn’t recognize.

One day last December, I found myself in much the same situation. I was wearing brown leggings and a blue top. When I went to run out for some errands, I wrapped a pretty printed blue scarf around my waist as a skirt and added brown boots. Due to the heavy weather we were experiencing, I put on my vibrant orange parka and picked up my green handbag. And then I sighed, and made anyone who saw me promise not to point and laugh.

Now, in fairness, most days I wear solids, so my bright accessories add a splash of style. But every once in awhile, all my style splashes at once and I’m wearing an octagon-printed dress, carrying a bag printed in squares and triangles…

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