Thursday, July 11, 2013

My Family's First Fashionista: My Grandmother



I love fashion, jewelry and makeup. 

I always have, except for a brief stint in my early teens, when my mother despaired that I’d ever do anything to tame my crazy hair or have an interest in wearing makeup. 

But then my family’s fashion genes kicked in. 

My grandmother was a fashionista. I have a photo of her at age 16 with strings of pearls wrapped around her bobbed hair. 

She always said the photographer wanted her to look like a flapper and wound them around her head just to stage the photo. The pearls weren’t even hers.

But she was a glamour girl. 

She always wore makeup, especially red lipstick, and she had drawers full of costume jewelry. 

Well into her eighties, she still made sure she wore jewelry and makeup, even though she’d say, “This old crow has no need for jewelry." 

She said the same thing about an old crow like her not needing makeup as she peered into her compact mirror putting on her lipstick and rouge (as she called it). 

When my sister and I were in college, we asked her if we could have a few pieces of her jewelry and she generously offered them up. 

We wore her jeweled pins and rhinestone chokers and were the envy of our girlfriends around campus. 

Years later, wearing her vintage jewelry prompted compliments and an invitation from a friend whose husband holds an annual jewelry sale. 

He sells his samples from throughout the year for bargain-basement prices. Nothing is more than $5 and the sale is a jewelry-lover's dream. 


Recently I’ve gone shopping with a few friends who have asked for my opinion on clothes, makeup and jewelry purchases. 

I get a little nervous because I really only know what styles and colors look best on me. And I'm not so sure about what looks good on everyone else. 

But I go with them and grab armfuls of clothes and head to the dressing room, hoping that I’ll figure it out as I go along. 

I veto busy florals and bright prints. I debate with them over the length and fit of a dress. 

I approve of the high-heeled shoes that make the outfit oh-so-chic. 

But I'm hoping they know I'm not really a style expert. I'm just an opinion-giver. But maybe that's all that's required of me. 

Maybe I worry too much about being skilled and an expert. If I hold back and do only what I feel qualified for, then I have a feeling I'll be missing out on a lot. 

Because there's no formal training required for the art of encouraging, supporting and affirming. 


I'm sure there might be better things to worry about than hair and makeup, fashion and jewelry. 

But spending an afternoon with a friend and sharing our hearts over lunch and shopping is important to me. 

When I look at a photo of my grandmother looking so in vogue in her red shoes, clutching her red purse and gloves, I feel a connection that reaches across the generations. 

I like following in her fashionable footsteps. 

And you never know, I just might share my super-secret jewelry source with my friends who ask me to accompany them shopping. 

As long as they know I'm just an amateur stylist. And promise not to hold me responsible for a fashion faux pas.

8 comments:

  1. Ah, Gram. I do believe she also passed on the phrase that mother always used, "You have to suffer to be beautiful!"
    Your sis

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    1. Yes, those were more of her words to live by!

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  2. Valerie,
    I too had two fashion fabulous grandmothers! I treasure their hand me down jewelery, and I wear it often. I get compliments, and I always proudly share that it was my grandmother's necklace/ring/earrings. Amazing how these women had style even before it was truly ready available/affordable. One of my grandmothers was from a rural town in North Dakota and the other from a small town in Tennessee. Precious stories, pictures, and I totally agree. I look forward to my lunch date with a friend next week. She is my fashion/style friend. We inspire one another and ourselves. :) Jenn

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    1. Hi Jenn!
      Nice to hear from you! I love hearing stories like yours about fashionable grandmothers! What a legacy they leave us with the stories of their lives. I would love to see pictures of your grandmother's jewelry - you should post about it sometime! :)

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  3. These photos are precious! Have faith in yourself, you have pretty good opinions for an opinion-giver! It's turned out very well so far!

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    1. Well that is very nice of you, sweet Brittany! :) Glad you like the photos!

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  4. You girls and your mom have always been 'fashionistas'! Nice to know that it's from your grandmother! What a great heritage!

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    1. That's one of the things I loved about her -- her zest for life and loving to look good!

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