Welcome to Beast of Style, a space dedicated to personal style and to vintage for the modern woman’s wardrobe. My name is Silvia, I’m a writer and Italian teacher based in Los Angeles, CA. I earned my BA in English and my MA and MPhil in Italian from Yale University. Aside from my passion for reading and writing, I’ve always been keenly interested in thrifting and in learning the history behind the vintage items I come across. Though my perspective may be that of a forty-three year-old, I believe personal style is not a question of age. Rather, it is an evolution through the various periods of our life.
The following thought on style by the French fashion designer, Yves Saint Laurent is particularly relevant to today’s fashion climate: “I am no longer concerned with sensation and innovation, but with the perfection of my style.” With much of society interested in personal style and effortless dressing, as evidenced by the popularity of fashion photo blogs like The Sartorialist and Jak & Jil, how do we pin down what constitutes great style? This is especially difficult in an age when women have so many style options. Unlike earlier fashion eras in which a look predominated, such as Dior’s New Look of the post WWII era, or Punk Fashion of the 80s and Grunge of the 90s, contemporary women have an embarrassment of riches when it comes to choice. Presented with so much choice, it can prove difficult to cultivate a modern personal style the way iconic women the likes of Grace Kelly and Jackie Kennedy so convincingly did. These women maintained a recognizable and unique look throughout their lifetimes. Their style revealed to the world at large who they were as women.
In the late summer of 2001, when I was twenty-nine years old, I was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. The experience of being sick was life changing, and as such, it presented an opportunity for assessment. Who had I been up to that point of being told I had cancer and who would I become? The year of treatment proved also to be a strangely liberating experience: life seemed charged with possibility. I had been given permission to play with appearance, and so too, with fashion. As a cancer patient, I witnessed style as a form of self-expression and creativity, as a form of connection with others.
Every object has a story to tell. And this is especially true of vintage objects. In sharing the stories behind my vintage collecting, I hope to inspire you to embrace your own unique personal style.
Photo: Beth Chucker