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The tenth Station: Style

Thursday, 3 December, 2015

Style is innate, but it can be nurtured. Photos of my mother’s mother, and ones of her grandmother, show elegant, confident women wearing beautiful coats trimmed with fur, sporting graceful hats adorned with feathers and holding the finest of leather handbags. No wonder my mother understood style. It was part of her heritage and that’s why she preferred to use “style” rather than “fashion” when talking about beautiful clothes and those who wore them.

Stylish

Style represented defiance. Bad weather, hard times, troubles and worries were part of life but a bit of style was an expression of boldness in the face of those forces that would destroy the spirit if they were allowed to have their way. One had to fight and the armour was style.

“What did you make of the style?” was one of the first questions asked about a formal occasion such as a wedding. Her exacting standards meant that most praise was accompanied by a “but”, regardless of the outfit. “Oh, she was gorgeous entirely, but the shoes were too flat. A bit of a heel is nice.” Alternatively, “There was no meaning to the shoes, and what harm but the dress was lovely.” Perfection was the standard, but it was rarely if ever attained in her opinion.

Style had a practical component. “Those are good shoes. How much did they cost?” If there appeared to be a sensible relationship between the price and the purchase, style points were awarded. If not, they were deducted. Shoes were the foundation upon which all style was built and my mother could spend weeks, months, in pursuit of the “right” shoes. If a suitable pair was found, they would be expected to earn their keep.

Fashion comes and goes, but style is permanent. That was her credo and, like most of her beliefs, some of which were not fashionable, it was right and remains true.

Our next station in this series of meditations on 14 photographs is Substance.


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