Have you ever read a book which seemed interesting while you were reading it – and then as time went on after finishing it, you find yourself thinking about it more and more frequently?
|The French have a certain je ne sais quoi!|
That’s been happening to me recently, ever since the Fashionista lent me Lessons from Madame Chic. Normally I find ‘self-help’ and ‘lifestyle’ books quite fun to read, but I don’t take a lot away from them. Madame Chic has proved quite different though. I’ve been thinking about it a lot ever since.
The basic premise of the book is ideas on how to incorporate the outlook of the cultured (read: classic, old-school) Frenchwoman into your life. The author, Jennifer Scott, lived in Paris during her college days and ever since has been attempting to follow the principles she learned, as well as share them with others.
One of her lessons is to edit one’s wardrobe severely. Basically, she tells us, one should sort through whatever one wears, removing items which are never worn for whatever reason (unflattering fit and color, discomfort, boredom, etc.). Once this process is done, what remains should constitute what she refers to as a ‘capsule wardrobe.’ Everything in it should make the owner feel and look amazing, plus reflect her personal style.
Due to that last requirement, the capsule wardrobe has to be reevaluated regularly to ensure that it’s still current with your tastes and position in life. E.g.: if you used to be a businesswoman but now are a stay-at-home mom, you may have to clear out a lot of tailored suits in favor of more practical items.
Of course, there’s also the issue of age. As we get older and enter new phases of our lives, often the way we want to look changes as well. The soft, fluttery fashions of girlhood give way to the sleek look of a working-woman; that yields perhaps to the ease which a mother needs, only finally to be replaced by the classic style of a ‘woman of a certain age.’
Anyway, all this explanation is leading me to make the point that I’ve been on the cusp of a style change in my wardrobe lately. I’m transitioning from my old style – what I referred to as ‘gypsy-chic’: tailored but with a liberal sprinkling of flowing skirts and colorful scarves – to something new. It’s an enjoyable process, even if I do have to resist the urge to clear out my whole wardrobe at one sweep and purchase everything new. I guess at this point I might call the look I’m aiming for ‘jazzy smart’…fun, unexpected touches on top of a very classic silhouette.
So at this point, you may be wondering why I am talking about fashion. Well, first of all, this is the blog of me, the writer with 1000 interests. I’m likely to talk about almost anything!
More relevantly, however, I was thinking last night, after a shopping trip yesterday when I found a lovely new sweater and dress, that editing one’s wardrobe is not much different from editing one’s fiction. When I started writing, I was extremely inclined to a florid, complex style. This applied across the board, in both poetry and prose.
In the past year, though, as I’ve been editing The Art of Dying, and writing occasional poetry, I’ve discovered that I my taste is swinging dramatically toward something clean and clear: description without extravagance, which leaves room for the reader’s mind to play.
That makes a big difference in how I approach my stories. For example, House of Mirrors, which I finished last summer, had a word count only half as large as The Art of Dying in its original form. My recent poems, also, have only been around 30 lines, instead of 60-100 as poems from a couple of years ago were. My whole aim has been to include more valuable content in fewer words. It’s an exciting challenge.
|I've even been updating with jazzy furniture!|
I think there can be a temptation to settle down as a person and become content with the status quo. This applies across the board, with fashion choices, life choices, writing choices, or what have you. This tendency, while perfectly understandable, is rather dangerous, I think.
See, I find that complacency ends up slowly turning into regression. If we take ourselves for granted, we eventually lose our identity. The hard work we might have exerted in the past goes to waste as we let ourselves sit and get flabby. Only by constantly reevaluating the places we’ve reached in life and then working to get to somewhere even better do we maintain our hard-won personal accomplishments.
Editing turns out not to apply to writers, it seems! I guess we all have to have the editor’s outlook for our whole life. It might seem hard, but I find that it really pays off in the end.