a unique perspective on this crazy world

Posts tagged ‘personal style’

the original swedish metrosexual?

Both my dad and my grandmother are dead now.  They were the reticent type unwilling to part with morsels of personal information easily.  So, even if I had spent more time attempting to extract the facts, it’s highly uncertain I would have learned anything more about my Swedish grandfather.

I didn’t even know what he looked like until I was in my teens.  My grandmother considered family the most important thing in the entire world so her tiny house was crammed with collages of photos of miscellaneous people only some of whom I’d actually met.  Martha Stewart would have been horrified 🙂

Normally the collages were updated for new grandchildren or more recent school pics of the ones already featured.  But one day when I was inspecting the walls for new updates (my grandmother kind of invented the concept of facebook photos before Mark Zuckerberg was even born 🙂 I was intrigued by one of the new photos.

As they would say on Sesame Street, this one was not like the others.  The photo had been taken in an entirely different era.  When having your photo taken was a ceremonial occasion, not a drunken iphone click.  The gentleman in the photo looked like a gentleman!

He is dressed to the nines.  He is holding a cigar and about to take a sip of some manly intoxicant.  He looks like a movie star.  Or some dude promoting a celebrity fragrance.

In small town Canada this was the most fascinating photo I had ever seen.  I asked my grandmother “who is that?”  To which she casually replied, “oh, that’s your grandfather.”  Hot damn!  That is NOT what grandfathers looked like where I lived…

I now regret I didn’t ask more.  But my grandmother didn’t drink and back in those days people actually thought it was polite to not blab personal details – even to family, let alone post them on facebook.

So I came to Sweden to at least see where he came from.  And maybe get some essence of what he might have been like.  And looking around at the gorgeous, perfectly groomed, fashionably dressed men in Stockholm, I did feel I was channeling him.

I think style normally flows through the maternal lineage.  But in my family, it’s the dudes who seem to have those genes in spades.  I like to think I have a little bit of style.  And a long time ago I became my mother’s stylist because apparently my father really liked everything I made her buy 🙂

My dad spent his entire life in small towns.  But he had real style.  He understood fabric.  He cared about cut.  He had expensive taste.  Maybe it’s in the genes… He looked a lot like his dad.

And his dad…  Check him out 😉  He doesn’t look much like a grandfather.  But the original metrosexual?  Your call…

It looks to me that Swedish men have been pretty boys for over a century now.  If the sketchy facts I have been told are correct, my grandfather was born in 1886…

finding your personal style :)

I spent the weekend organizing my closet and trying to finally get rid of some of the stuff in it.  I did manage to drag a few things out and even got them to a charity for resale.  But my closet still looks way too full!

Things were easier back in the old days when my mom tried to get me to quit wearing the same brown sweatpants and oversize T-shirt every day.  When I tell people I was painfully shy when I was 15, they roll their eyes and laugh.  It’s true!  It’s also true that I had absolutely zero sense of style and owned maybe three pairs of shoes…

The first wakeup call was when my friend Yvonne told me I looked smart…  I’m not quite sure what she meant but I was 18 and finally waking up to the concept that maybe boys could be more than buddies – and that might involve donning a skirt.

It all still seemed pretty dumb to me and I figured my intellect would get me a date 🙂  And it can.  It depends who you want to date.  And I wanted to date smart boys.  So my style remained a black hole for many years after the first fleeting thought that maybe it should be something I should consider.

In the end it was fate that was the tipping point, not great planning.  Given all the shoes stuffed into miscellaneous corners of my apartment as I type this, it’s hard to envision but back in 1992 I was freshly arrived from my sojourn in Australia and looking for a new pair of black loafers.  When I had arrived in Vancouver in 1985 the shoe store landscape had been bleak so I had become an enormous fan of Stephane de Raucourt as soon as it opened.  In its first incarnation sensible pumps in a myriad of colours along with some boring, sensible loafers were pretty much its entire offering.  It fit to my personal non-style perfectly 😉

But when I went to the newly located store a few years later I was shocked to discover that the business concept had changed and they were now doing knock-off designer shoes.  Not a boring Weejun style loafer to be found.  But I hate shopping so was open to seeing if I could get out of the store with something and not have to go elsewhere.  The salesclerk convinced me a black suede loafer with a heel and Gucci-copy buckle would be just as comfortable as my boring ones.  It was true!  But what was life-changing was that people actually noticed my shoes.

And it all went downhill… uphill?  from there.  It was a slow process and it took me at least a decade to realize there had been a transformation.  Somehow I had developed a personal style.  And become the kind of person who has random men tell me how much they like my shoes!  I have had women run up to me looking intense – only to have them ask where I got my shoes.

My shoes are the most famous part of my style.  Because I learned my lesson.  You can wear the same boring, comfortable clothes year after year – just change your shoes!  Somewhere in there I also learned how to dress my body, how to choose good fabrics, how a great tailor can make men swoon at your feet…

So, now I have a closet full of incredible clothing and shoes that would make any fashionista proud (almost all bought on sale like a good Scottish girl 😉  I regularly get positive feedback on my personal style.  And men flirt with me on every continent.  I am still the smart girl who doesn’t always get it – but the power of a dress and a pair of heels to rock your world… if only I’d figured it out when I was 16 😉

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