Wednesday, January 11, 2012
Charlotte Gainsbourg, uniform dressing, and women of a particular age
It's not so much what's there but what's not there: very few accessories, no discernible trends, nothing cute or flashy, nothing put upon, no excess (at least her casual everyday style . . . her red carpet style is quite different). For most, such a well-suited personal uniform is usually only achieved through assiduous editing performed over many years, after the experimentation of the younger years has subsided. It's a matter of knowing your own body and the proportions that work best for it, and taking away all the extras that detract. And it may as well be said--when things are this pared down, a trim body is, if not essential, at least very helpful. And fabric and fit factor heavily as well, both of which aren't cheap (but not necessarily that expensive either).
It takes discipline to stick to a uniform, and a certain wit to know its standard deviations. For Charlotte Gainsbourg, the standard deviations include such things as patch-pocket high-waisted denim, Converse sneakers, and brightly colored gingham--funny little touches that don't muddle the consistency of her style but rather make the uniform feel warm and human.
The insight into fabrics and proportion, the self-knowledge, the mostly fixed body type (no more pubescent surges), and the long-term editing that takes place all suggest that figuring out a personal uniform might be achieved later in life, perhaps in your 30s or 40s. Sure, you can have a goth look or be an Abercrombie devotee at a much earlier age, but to figure out a uniquely individual style and then distill it into a uniform takes a particular alchemy of things that tend to come with the years. There seems a quiet intelligence that comes from knowing yourself and your taste quite well and being able to appreciate what clothes can do for you, as well as what it can't.