July 14, 2011

A Matter of Subjectivity

My Personal Photo
"What is beautiful for you may not be beautiful to someone else. Or what is beautiful here may not be beautiful there and what is sometimes beautiful today is not necessarily beautiful tomorrow. Perhaps this is the story of fashion and what makes fashion move forward, the fact that there is no decision whatsoever with what's wrong." Alber Elbaz, Creative Director of LANVIN 

Such a great quote from one of of my favorite designers and visionaries. A reminder that style is subjective. Style like fashion is constantly evolving. One of the things that I enjoy most about this blog is hearing your thoughts. We all have such different views on what we find beautiful. I hope that everyone continues to share. Some of what appeals to us is innate, but our lifestyle, backgrounds, experiences, likes and dislikes all serve as influencers. 

I came across Alber Elbaz's quote at the perfect time. Don't you love when that happens? I have a colleague who has taken to criticizing every sartorial choice I make. My pumps are "wrong for the most casual of casual Fridays" and my favorite tailored tweed jacket is "a bit too serious." I enjoy hearing  viewpoints other than my own, but at some point (when I'm being cornered for the umpteenth time, in the restroom no less) enough is enough. Clearly our tastes diverge and that is perfectly fine. I won't even begin to go into the comments on my body type and size. 

Being well groomed and polished is beautiful to me. Perhaps I take myself seriously, but that's my aesthetic. Having a refined sense of elegance is a large part of who I am. I carefully consider how I present myself and would rather err towards looking refined above all else. Someone else may have a completely different view on what looks beautiful and that's fine. After all, aren't our differences what makes life wonderful? 


  1. Your colleague has appalling manners.

  2. LuxeBytes- Agreed. There is nothing more inelegant than poor manners.

  3. Your colleague's commentary seems very rude and inappropriate--which we can probably chalk up to his/her own insecurities.

  4. Prêt à Porter P- It's a shame what insecurities can do to people. Even people who have so much going for them. Rude and inappropriate behavior overshadows everything else for me.

  5. It is indeed our differences that make things beautiful, but it is our inability to accept them that makes everything ugly. I've said it before and P has said it again: you are stunning and obviously that is intimidating to your colleague. If I were you I would inquire as to what makes her feel like she has to constantly correct you - but then I get very feisty when challenged! I was questioned by a colleague as to why I am always 'so dressed up'? She did not mean it derogatorily but I was defensive all the same. I have always been told by my mother that it is better to be overdressed and elegant than under dressed in any circumstance. Besides, having embraced my inner grandma, if I didn't wear my nice things to work where would I wear them?
    Hold your head up and keep being the elegant you that we all know and adore :)
    PS. Love the shoes!

  6. Your colleague has some serious jealousy issues. Maybe she cannot imagine herself looking as great and polished as you always do so she feels the need to knock you down to justify her own shabbiness. I really cannot imagine anyone being critical of your style no matter how different their personal preferences are. That person is not seeing you at all, she is seeing her own inadequacies.

  7. It's true that people who are confident with themselves seldom waste their time criticizing. I like your thought about beauty, it is true that it is very subjective. I believe the most important is to feel beautiful, no matter what the others say.

  8. I love what you wear though! Don't feel defeated by his petty comment. This kind of confirms my fears that the work place might feel like high school all over again. Why can't people just grow up a little? He/She can kiss your well-tailored ass. Great quote from my favourite designer too; he's so cute.

  9. Much like La Fille mal Gardée, I too have embraced my inner grandma. I ¨go out¨ maybe once every three months, so if I feel like wearing a floor-length purple, swooshy and delicious maxi skirt at work then that´s what I will do. Making an effort shows that you take what you do seriously, at least in my opinion. But then again, I also hate the idea of saving nice things for special occasions. Every day can be a special occasion :)

  10. Your colleague has unfortunate manners. I am glad her comments don't seem to affect you too much, I have never understood why adult women persist in behaviour that is best left behind in high school! Ignore her :)

  11. La Fille mal Gardée- You are so right "the inability to accept them (our differences) makes everything ugly.” Well stated! Thank you for your warm compliments.

    I love that you get feisty when challenged. I think everyone needs to be little feisty from time to time. I don’t understand why other people feel the need to question another’s choices. I don’t blame you for being defensive with your colleague!

    I agree with your mother (my mom taught me the same thing), overdressed and elegant is always better than underdressed. I believe that you should wear your good stuff. It’s meant to be enjoyed.

    Head held high and chin up! Always!

    agnes comme fellini-I have grown to realize that this must be the case. It isn’t about me at all, but unfortunately some people feel better when they knock others dad. It is truly unfortunate.

    Thank you for your lovely comments on my style. I have admired many looks, but I always go back to the same things. Polished always works for me.

    Kali- I agree, it’s all about confidence. When people are confident with themselves they don’t spend time criticizing others. I also think people rely on clothing, makeup, etc to feel confident, but I find that it comes from things like doing well in school or being successful in your career or with a hobby.

    It’s so important to feel beautiful. If you don’t feel that way on the inside nothing will change that.

    Joy- Thank you! Nope- you can’t let anyone make you feel defeated.
    Oh no! The work place isn’t all negativity, but there’s always one and it does remind me of high school.

    Sometimes you just have to laugh. If you haven't grown up by the time you are in your mid 40s I don't think you ever will.

    That's a great quote. Who said it?!

    Maja Piraja- I love that! I feel similarly. Wear what makes you happy. Life is too short not to. I agree making an effort speaks volumes. When you pull yourself together people do take you seriously.

    I love the idea that EVERY DAY can be a special occasion.

    Ammu- It's all about manners. You're so right. It's best to ignore people like this. When I ignore the comments I can see that it's unnerving. I will never understand why adult women act like this either, but I don't let it get to me too much.

  12. how tedious to have to put with that. surely its enjoyable to have a little variety in the office rather than all looking like bots. i admire your style, and the idea of looking well groomed - i always think, you know, whats the worst thing that can happen, that you're the best dressed person in the room?!

  13. Jeez, she's quite rude and like others have said it seems to come from a place of insecurity. This is one of those times when you just have to "do your thing" and refrain from sinking down to her level. Hopefully her unacceptable behavior is curbed in the future. Style and taste are relative and everyone has right to their own opinion, but when a person begins to create a poisonous environment it's going too far.

  14. Son- Tedious is the word. I love the idea of having a variety of looks at the office. I agree with you- what is so bad about being the best dressed person in the room?

    Austere- You are so right, it's definitely best not to sink down to this juvenile level. Style and taste are relative, it's just about expressing it in a productive way.

  15. Gosh your colleague obviously has jealousy issues as well as a lack of social etiquette! I will gladly give my opinion but only if I am asked for it, and I would never be so crass. I love to be well groomed and polished too, It just makes me feel good and is a great start to the day :) nothing wrong with wanting to look good :)

    Love, Vanilla


  16. the fact is being well groomed and polished will never go out style - it's the cornerstone to true elegance, in my opinion.

    your colleague remarks are extremely inappropriate. your response is extremely admirable.

  17. Vanilla - notes from my closet- I agree. Being well groomed and polished is a lovely way to start the day. You just feel ready for whatever comes your way.

    Interestingly enough when I think of the word polished- good social etiquette comes to mind above all else.

    danica- "Good grooming and being polished are the cornerstones to true elegance" well said. To me that's truly what defines elegance.

    Thank you! I think it's important not to let inappropriate behavior bring you down.

  18. How rude & tactless of her! She needs to learn her manners!

    I totally agree with you - I want 'to dress up' for work, I want to look refined groomed, stylish and everything. If ever there'll ever arise a question about casual Friday in my office I'll vote against. :)

  19. Ginta- I was outraged too.

    I think 'casual Fridays' are extremely misinterpreted. I get the idea of not having to wear a suit or jacket on Fridays, but people interpret casual Fridays to mean 'I can wear anything on Friday' which isn't what it's suppose to be.

    I love that you would vote against casual Fridays!

  20. Hi, I love your blog and sense of style! And I can totally identify with your statement that casual Fridays have been taken to a whole level of meaning, which should not be the case. I have friends who wear tube tops, flip-flops and even shorts to work on Fridays, which I found a little suprising even coming from an office with casual dressing code as I do. There are some items of clothing which I think should be restricted to weekends, period.

  21. Jenn- Thank you!

    From Wall Street to more casual environments I'm constantly surprised by what people deem appropriate for Fridays in the name of 'casual Fridays.' I guess that's why I was a bit taken back by my colleagues comments.
    I would have to agree- tube tops, flip-flops and shorts are not appropriate for the office.

  22. I think all the comments said it all, but I identified so strongly with this episode that I had to add my two cents worth: I had a colleague like this before as well - she would say things like "you must really love that cardigan to wear it all the time" (in a really negative way) or "I didn't know your department was so casual". Implying I was a slob I suppose - you could tell none of it was a compliment. I never replied - none of her comments seemed to require a response anyway.

  23. Lin- Hope you has a good Birthday! It's really saddening to see how many people could identify with this. It's toxic. I'm sorry you had to deal with this too.

    No response is the perfect response here. Once people realize it doesn't rattle you the 'game' is over.

    I love wearing the same things that I love ALL the time. It amazes me that people think there's something wrong with that!