the invisible woman : the quiet power dressing 2014
“How can I look my best? Do I want to be visible or not too much visible? You are not visible with Phoebe’s clothes. It’s not too obvious. It’s a way of not being seen.” ISABELLE HUPPERT, ACTRESS
“She understands how a working mom and a woman in today’s world needs to move and get through her day. She also can absorb and translate the culture. So her clothes make you feel connected to what it is to be in today’s world.” CAMILLA NICKERSON, VOGUE CONTRIBUTING EDITOR
I was so happy to read the excellent cover story by Whitney Vargas on Phoebe Philo of Celine in this weekend’s New York Times T magazine.
I strive to be invisible through the choice of non-makeup makeup and a kind of uniform in terms of my fashion choices. I already wrote about it here.
Some of the highlights of the article are :
Invisible. That is what Phoebe Philo’s clothes for Céline make you feel. Not romantic, like Valentino. Or dark and edgy, like Saint Laurent. Simply invisible. A woman in a perfectly cut shirt and a pair of pants. And, oh, what a relief! Because we are busy. We work. We wipe our children’s mouths with the backs of our hands as we rush out the door. We don’t have time to consider whether our prints match or our buttons align. To try on different outfits each morning, like so many different personalities. To fuss and preen. That seems silly, somehow weak. Despite Philo’s many best efforts, there is a Céline uniform: large, slouchy trousers; a collarless shirt; flats; a tuxedo jacket — preferably in navy, black or cream. The clothes are quiet and not meant to make a statement. And so you look invisible. Able to be viewed for more than your surface appearance. This is power dressing.
Her intentionally mousy hair and no makeup are the mark of a woman who relies on more than looks to get her way.
But her specialness lies in synthesizing how women want to dress with how they actually live their lives. And how we want to see ourselves: sophisticated, knowledgeable, not victimized by fashion. Increasingly, comfort is the ultimate commodification of luxury
Whilst most of us cannot afford to dress in Celine every day , there are still many choices out there of affordable quiet clothes that give you power . A perfectly cut man’s pant , a snug tuxedo jacket, a beautiful tailored white cotton shirt , a black round neck sweater , flat shoes , how liberating that is !
I love this portrait of Phoebe in her timeless uniform , and the ones below of Camilla Nickerson, Isabelle Huppert and Phoebe again.
These women are in natural make up and a beautiful simple man’s shirt or sweater . They are wearing their clothes to go out into a tough world feeling more confident and powerful . The clothes are NOT wearing them.
In the same edition of T Magazine , fashion journalist Cathy Horyn writes a brilliant article about the same theme, entitled Sign Of The Times : Slave No More. Read the full article here
Lately I’ve noticed many more women, all of them in the zone of careers and complicated family routines, all of them with an eye for fashion, gravitating toward an almost boyish uniform of slim-cut trousers, pullovers and flat shoes. Or a leather jacket with bland layers underneath. They’re hardly wearing makeup, so their complexions look fresh. (We all know that too much makeup ages everyone.) At the last round of shows in Paris, I noted that even my French sisters had begun to ditch their adored stilettos for low heels. That was quite a concession for them, I thought. Something must be up, because those women don’t do anything on a whim.
I am happy to see that the same can be said for makeup. There has been an avalanche of nude/natural/non-makeup makeup looks on the catwalks of the New York Fashion Week. I have been trumpeting to anyone that would listen ( and never agrees ) the virtues of wearing a natural face because it makes you look as if you are strong enough or confident enough not to need to hide behind a full face of makeup. I am not saying that you should not wear makeup , I am just saying that natural makeup should be used to enhance and not transform .
My sisters yell at me for not wearing blush , I stopped wearing mascara years ago too . I think that beautiful skin with a bit of tinted foundation , strong eyebrows and natural nails is enough these days, as well as shiny well cut hair and cared-for teeth for a beautiful smile , which at the end of the day is the most important beautifying factor we have .
Fortunately I am backed in my non- makeup kind of makeup theory by this weekend’s article in The Cut, read here .
This time around, the main concept at almost every show I went to was “raw beauty,” with an emphasis on brows, very little contouring, and natural lip colors. After two seasons of strong eye looks at Jason Wu, Diane Kendal for Lancome brought a truly barely there, boyish makeup look, focusing on creating defined brows with soft edges
So maybe the takeaway from this Fashion Week is that beauty is trendless. Or that we are reaching a Celine moment in beauty and a directive to focus on eyebrow architecture, rather than the razzle-dazzle of a hot new color.
At the end of the day its about whatever makes you feel powerful, good, comfortable and in my case : invisible , so dress and wear the make up and hair that you want because after you hit 45 it’s YOLO time ( You Only Live Once ) !
Also check out my post called normcore , it follows the same train of thought and identifies the same needs..
All photos courtesy of The New York Times and The Cut .