Shoes: Simply Vera, Kohl's
Belt: Mudd, J. C. Penney's
Sunglasses: Cloud Nine, Ocean City boardwalk
Tank: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: Ami Clubwear
Bag: Betsey Johnson, gifted
Cardigan: Mossimo, Target
Shoes: J. C. Penney's
Two weekends ago, inspired by Cinco de Mayo, I made a kind of weird, makeshift Mexican peach pie in my quesadilla maker. I sandwiched cream cheese, canned peaches, and cinnamon and sugar between two tortillas. It wasn't bad, although I wished I'd done a better job of draining the peaches -- wet cream cheese is no bueno. I'll remember that for next time, as I see many a canned fruit quesadilla in my future.
Naturally, working with real peaches (if anything canned can be called real) made me want to make fake ones. So I came up with this Ornamental Orchard trio, tossing in plums for good measure. As you know, I'm drawn to fruit motifs. Indeed, they are among the most feminine of designs, hanging at the crossroads of conventional and avant garde.
The concept of what constitutes feminine style has always fascinated me. So, I was delighted to stumble upon the March Elle article "Why Can't a Smart Woman Love Fashion?" in which Nigerian-born novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie describes adjusting to American dress:
"I realized quickly that some outfits I might have casually worn on a Nigerian university campus would simply be impossible now. I made slight amendments to accommodate my new American life. A lover of dresses and skirts, I began to wear more jeans. I walked more often in America, so I wore fewer high heels but always made sure my flats were feminine. I refused to wear sneakers outside a gym. Once, an American friend told me, "You're overdressed." In my short-sleeve top, cotton trousers, and high wedge sandals, I did see her point, especially for an undergraduate class. But I was not uncomfortable. I felt like myself."
The pressure to conform to a more androgynous, less well-thought-out sartorial style only increased as Adichie's writing career began to blossom.
"Once, at a workshop, I sat with other unpublished writers . . . A fellow aspiring writer said of one faculty member, "Look at that dress and makeup! You can't take her seriously." I thought the woman looked attractive, and I admired the grace with which she walked in her heels. But I found myself quickly agreeing. Yes, indeed, one could not take this author of three novels seriously because she wore a pretty dress and two shades of eye shadow."
The incident influenced Adichie, who wanted to be accepted as a serious writer, to create a protective shell in the form of a make-under.
"I hid my high heels. I told myself that orange, flattering to my skin tone, was too loud. That my large earrings were too much. I wore clothes I would ordinarily consider uninteresting, nothing too bright or too fitted or too unusual . . . I didn't want to look as if I tried too hard."
Adichie alludes to a social construct that has always left me baffled. If anything, a woman in a creative field such as writing should be taken more seriously for expressing herself visually. What's more, encouraging women to hide their true selves gives rise to the kind of judginess that is a byproduct of feminism as well as one of its chief detractors. That having been said, I realize that the world doesn't always embrace a free-to-be-you-and-me mindset. Adichie seemed to know this too and opted to prioritize public perception over personnel expression to advance her career. That is, until she didn't.
"I am now 36 years old. During my most recent book tour, I wore, for the first time, clothes that made me happy . . . Perhaps it is the confidence that comes with being older. Perhaps it is the good fortune of being published and read seriously, but I no longer pretend not to care about clothes. Because I do care. I love embroidery and texture. I love lace and full skirts and cinched waists . . . I love shopping . . . I admire well-dressed women and often make a point to tell them so . . . I feel again myself - an idea that is no less true for being a bit hackneyed. I like to think of this, a little fancifully, as going back to my roots. I grew up, after all, in a world in which a woman's seriousness was not incompatible with an interest in appearance; if anything, an interest in appearance was expected of women who wanted to be taken seriously."
Now, that's feminism to me.