Style and Comfort: Couture Du Jour

Meant for Me
Looking for, failing to find, stylish shoes

Love the sense of cosy affirmation I feel when I read others writing, talking, and feeling, the way I do about style and comfort for grown-up women – it’s what the Plus Black ethos is all about and encourages me to continue with both my writing and behind the scenes efforts, as well as giving credit where it’s due to the inspirational when I find it.

Last week, I read an article by Christa D’Souza in Elle Decoration UK, March 2013: Couture Du Jour

In it, she writes about what we wear at home and what it says about us, positing that combining glamour with comfort is driven by, and a skill that comes with, age.  I encourage you to buy the magazine, paper or online, for the full article … and it’s a good read if interiors are your thing.

Working from home, Christa D’Souza talks about her erstwhile ‘writing from bed’ look of trackie bottoms, huge sweater, cowboy boots and how even this is an improvement on her previous look of Ugg boots, pyjama bottoms, sheepie slippers and toast-flecked tees.  Who of us hasn’t been there?

For her, middle-age was the turning point when slobdom lost its’ allure but for many of the rest of us – the sick, in retirement, career-shifting, caring – housebound types, it’s the monotonous tedium of always dressing down, of no one caring what we look like, of isolation, that does it for us.  Over time, if you are a person with a style aesthetic, your loss of style itches away at you.  You aren’t happy with slobdom on a permanent basis.  The itch won’t go away and your mind keeps going back to it because at home, day to day, you want to be comfortable and at ease with yourself and you aren’t when in your bed clothes all of the time.

Christa D’Souza also thinks age is why her tolerance for discomfort and style is lower.  I certainly agree that age may be one of the factors in prioritising comfort but I tend to think it is more about lifestyle – particularly changing lifestyles.  Comfort becomes paramount when you are having to multi-task incompatible activities – caring for others and working – or when your body hurts and is subject to various procedures at someone else’s behest and, perhaps mostly, when there is no good reason NOT to be comfortable in your clothing choices – living/working from home.

Christa D’Souza then asks the key question: are comfort and style mutually exclusive?  HALLELUJAH!

This has been precisely my point in developing the Plus Black concept.

As a wheelchair user, based at home, living with a painful and uncomfortable illness, I desperately want easy clothing but, almost as desperately, I want it to have at least some relationship with style … my style, the style I spent some decades developing, and feeling great in, before I got ill and became this overweight wheelchair using person.

Christa D’Souza makes the point that, in reality, if you are uncomfortable, then you probably aren’t rocking style-wise anyway.  I tend to agree with this.  Much of my old ‘look’ just doesn’t work for a seated, much fatter, me but I’m adaptable.  I have the nous to know what will or will not work.  I just can’t find it – or very little of it – anywhere.  Like D’Souza, I know what I want and what matters to me.  She says, in precis:

The feel of things… [if I’m watching TV with a takeaway] I want not just a nice linen napkin on [my] knees, as opposed to a square of paper towel, I want them clad in the finest cashmere… Mushroom cashmere, oatmeal cashmere, sea cotton, vicuna chartouches (if they were legal); these are the fabrics you want to be enveloped in …

Tonight … I might very well be in my jammies.  Jammies though by Olatz Schnabel, of dovetail grey silk, with poppy piping, to match the curtains.

Her style is not my style but her desire for style, and comfort, is my desire too.  For me, that means defining the individual style I would like and using Plus Black as a forum to share and find more.  Are you refining your style as life changes?  Do let me know the form that style and comfort take for you … and give us all a heads-up on where you find it …

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