The Spirit of Style
(From my forthcoming book, The Spirit of Style):
During career week at my kids’ school, I sat in a tiny chair meant for a 6 year old and listened to my daughter Kaia’s first grade teacher introduce me. “Mrs. Marinelli is a personal stylist, and she is going to tell you about her job today.”
18 kids sat in a semicircle around me; those who had seen me on TV or heard me on the radio were slightly more interested than the rest. I had been nervous, trying to figure out a way to explain to children what I do without having it seem like it was all about the pretty clothes…
I asked, “Who here has a favorite shirt?”
A few hands shot up.
“How about a favorite dress?
A few more.
“A favorite pair of shoes? A favorite sweatshirt?”
Soon, everyone’s hands were up.
“Ok, you can put your hands down. I want to ask another question. How you feel when you wear your favorite shirt, dress, shoes or sweatshirt?”
“Happy!” shouted one of the girls.
“Cool!” said a boy.
“Jumpy!” called a little girl with cornrows.
“Pretty!” said another girl.
“Excited!” said one more.
I loved the unabashed joy these children exhibited just by imagining their favorite clothes. Kids know what makes them feel great. As adult women, we have become disconnected from some of the most basic feelings of worth and beauty. We have “un-learned” what brings us joy. Too distracted with being thin, bouncing back from pregnancies, or looking younger, we judge ourselves and no longer accept who we are.
I explained to the class, “What I do is help grown-ups feel happy, cool, jumpy, pretty, and excited in their clothes.”
If it were a group of adults that I was speaking to, I would quote the poet Galway Kinnell, who wrote, “Sometimes it is necessary to reteach a thing its loveliness.”
And that is the heart of what I do.