Thursday, February 26, 2009

Elegance in the White House




If you are anything like me, you were rooting for Obama, shed a few tears when he got elected, and missed work to watch him being sworn in. But if you are like me, you are getting sick of seeing his face on TV every single day talking about his stimulus package and how he is going to get America out of this mess, the former administration and Wall Street made.

However, I will tell you what I am not sick of: Michelle Obama. I like the first lady. I always liked her even before she was going to become the first lady. I like the fact that she is a strong and "beautiful" black woman; that she can have a intelligent conversation, and that she is candid about her husband.

But more importantly (because after all I am all about fashion), I like her sense of style. That woman rocks. Well, you may think that her face looks like a monkey, but you cannot criticise her sense of style. So far, I liked everything she put on (except that horror of dress when Obama won the elections). The lady dresses well and for her age. She chooses only up and coming American designer such as Jason WU -who designed the famous inaugural ball dress-, Tracy Reese. Yet all her outfits are not outrageously overpriced. She seems to limit herself in the range of under $500, which is nothing when we know how much designer outfits could cost. She is not pretentious, yet she has class. That is all we need from a First lady: class.



On Oscar Night, the 1st couple entertained at the White House for the Governor's dinner. Michelle wore a sequined gown from Peter Soronen topped with a pearl and crystal necklace by Tom Binns. (Isn't she fab-tres Oscar worthy)

It seems like the media agrees with me, because everywhere you turn lately, it is all about her and her sense of style. She has been on the covers of Essence magazine, Vogue and most recently People mag wearing a stunning eyelet pink creation of Tracy Reese.



Michelle on the cover of People. This dress retails for about $400 (and I want it)

Do not get me wrong, I like the fact the for once in the White House we have a Black figure that emanates elegance. But from time to time, I wonder if this is all a red carpet event for Michelle Obama. It seems like she knows that she is being scrutinize about her wardrobe, that is why she is putting a show for us. Sometimes, I even have the feeling that she is going too far. Such was the case last Tuesday, when her hubby decided to speak to the Congress. The woman wore a sleeveless cocktail style dress. I mean it looked great on her but this was not the Vanity Fair party but a serious event. And to top it all, Mr. President himself made a proud note to tell everyone to look at his beautiful wife. It just about killed me, all this sweetness and lovey dubbey at the White House.



Michelle at the Congressional Address on February 24th wearing a plum silk dress from Narciso Rodriguez


Nevertheless, I am sure that even though Fashion is liked by Michelle, she has more important issues to deal about. The woman was a Vice President (for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals before she quit to support Barack. She cares about the people around her such as her children, to whom she seems to give her unconditional love. Moreover, she genuinely cares about the issues the American people. And that shows.

It feels good to have her around: a good, strong, black female presence in the White House. A good sense of style only adds to our pleasure.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Fashion Rules

When it comes to fashion, are they any rules?

I mean, we all know that in the States, it is not permitted to wear white pants after labor day. And it seems that in my country of Senegal, having a matching bag and pair of sandals is the common rule.

However, I do no think that fashion and rule go together in the same sentence, or at least these are two words that should not co-exist for the following reasons:

Number one: Fashion is all about discovering, exploring new angles, showing or announcing yourself to the world, making art. And how on earth would you be able to accomplish that if you limit yourself to some boring rules.

And number 2: Fashion is inspired by what revolves around us. And we all know that there is nothing basic about the world we live in. So why put yourself in a box and label it when everything around us seems like it is escaping from that box?

Unfortunately for all that talk about how "fashion should not have rules", I am the type of girl who sticks to rules when it comes to it. I always thought I was the adventurous type when it came to dress myself. However lately I discovered that I do belong to the boring side. From my early years as a fashionista wannabe to now as Hijabi wannabe, I still suffer the same issue: I am not daring.

Take for example my favorite outfit which consists of a pair of jeans (baggy please) and loose shirt with ballet flats. This is my signature wear. Everyone who knows me, knows that it is what I would wear for business as usual. I may have shifted from baggy, to tight to baggy again in all the years but I still stick to the jeans, because they are the most comfortable and usual outfit out there.


Signature Outfit for Summer


Signature Outfit for Winter

I do like to dress up, but I still manage to look polish yet not very out there. My mother in law thinks that my going out outfits are not worthy. And my mother always seem to find something wrong with what I choose to wear. My husband seems not to care unless he thinks that I am wearing something over the top when we go out shopping-which I swear I do not.

Sometimes, I look at pictures of my friends on facebook or hi5 and I wonder where do they get so courageous to wear such outfits. Recently my young aunt posted some pics of her wearing this gorgeous short green dress. She looked stunning, sexy and polished. And I could not help but envy her.

So I am asking myself, what is wrong with me? Why do I always stick to the same boring colors (grey, black, navy, green, brown), patterns, styles, jeans? Why do I always choose comfort before sophistication? And why do I always wait for a special occasion to dress up? Why? Because these are my fashion rules.

1- Stick to same old colors: black, grey, green, blue, brown, yellow and red.

When I look at my closet, I have the same color palettes. It may seem boring sometimes but I like it. I am attracted to these colors no matter what I do. So far, I have two red dresses, two brown ones, three blue, one green and one black and white. I always go and buy the same color shirts as well, and they are plain with some floral design of some sort.

2- Always choose comfort:

I hate wearing something that is not comfortable. That is why although I absolutely love stilettos, you will probably never see me wear them. For every day use, I adorn ballet flats or flat sandals. They are easy to put on and do not put a strain on my feet. Sure stilettos give you height, they make you noticeable but they are also a pain after walking around in them for a while. For this reason, even though I have a shoe rag full of them, they rarely see the streets.
The same goes with clothing. You will probably never see me with a tight dress or tight skirt anytime soon. I have always been conscious of my curvaceous body. That is why I do not feel at ease when I wear something that is hugging all the curves. I also hate the fact of pulling or adjusting an outfit that is why I usually go for a perfect fit lately ( I learned this fashion rule the hard way after buying so many ill fitted outfit just because I liked the design and ended up never wearing them because they were never right)

3- Wait for special occasion to dress up:

I like dressing up: wearing a nice sparkly dress with stilettos and bold jewelry. I also like to add some make up and do my hair. It makes me feel extra special and even more beautiful. But I do not do it everyday. I do it for special occasions: dates, weddings, receptions, religious events. For me, you have to have something extra special, to be wearing something extra special. Because if you just dress up everyday, what will happen on that very special day? True, I like to indulge myself and dress up sometimes even when I do not having something to celebrate just because; I wanna feel beautiful for no reason at all. But to be honest, I do not have neither the time, neither the energy to fully dress up every day. I take enough time having a shower, choosing what to wear, coming my hair every day to try to put a twist to it. I just cannot be bothered. So if you want to see me all dressed up, give me a special reason for it: invite me to your wedding for example.


Dress Up Outfit (who knows, I may wear the same kind of thing for one of my friend's wedding)

4- Never reveal too much skin:

I have to say that they were some time in the past when I thought that I had to reveal some skin to be sexy and fashionable. However, I always felt uneasy when I wore sexy outfits. That is why I never seem to reveal much these days-considering that I am now covering myself. Nevertheless, even if I was not covering myself, I still believe that I would not be wearing a deep v shirt or a too short short. I always managed to wear shirt underneath a dress with spaghetti straps, or wear some tights with a knee length dress. Do not ask me why but I became very conscious about not showing too much skin recently. Maybe it is because I became a Mother, or just the fact that I was aging.

5- Always manage to color coordinate:

Do not get me wrong I am not a fan of color coordination. I hate it when I walk around the streets of Houston and see young African American with matchy matchy outfits such as: yellow shirts with yellow shoes and yellow plastic accessories. However, I always manage to match colors in my outfit. I would wear a red scarf with red shoes, or have a blue bracelet with a blue bag. Maybe it is the Senegalese in me, but I have to coordinate. When I was living in Japan, I always found it odd to see a rainbow of colors in Japanese girls outfit. It seemed so wrong and distasteful.



Color Coordination: Red scarf, white tee, red and white flower print dress, black pants and red shoes. And the bag is white with black straps. (But it was for a Valentine's day party at work with the kids so you can forgive me!!!)

So these are my fashion rules and I am sticking to them no matter what. It is hard to explain how I got them. They just came natural to me after some time experimenting. I even think that they are less of rules and more of a way of life. Because even if I deny them, they are part of me. They make me who I am.

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