The Kimono: Wear Your Praise Wednesday {...instead of "Fashion Friday"...}

Many, many bloggers are doing the "fashion Friday" thing.  And I love the ones that do.  In fact, there are a couple of bloggers I follow simply because their fashion Friday posts are so much fun.  I thought I'd try my own twist...

..."To grant [consolation and joy] to those who mourn in Zion—to give them an ornament (a crown) of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, the garment [expressive] of praise instead of a heavy, burdened, and failing spirit..."  Isaiah 61:3

So, this is way outside my comfort zone.

Can't you just tell?  (I look so excited about this post, in that shot above...but stay with me.  I try harder to be happy, here in a minute...)

Even though I'm asked all the time to share my quasi-secrets about fashion, even though I get the occasional compliment for looking "so good" "for my age"...even though some people think I have become pretty good at dressing for my age and my body type, even though my husband looks my way often, and passionately declares, "My grandma never looked like that."

Never (nevah-evah) have I posted "fashion" pictures of myself.  Selfies on Instagram are one thing...full blown fashion posts on my blog are another.  I have shared Pinterest pictures here on my blog, many times, featuring outfits I adored and fashion trends I was interested in.

But something kept nagging at me, and it was this:  I love pretty clothes.  I love seeing a woman who is well put together.  And "wearing my praise" actually played a large part in my process of healing from clinical depression, which you can read more about that struggle here and here.

That "heavy, burdened and failing spirit" spoken of in Isaiah 61?  I know how it feels.  And I know you have to fight that thing every which way but loose.  Getting dressed in something expressive of praise was just one weapon in my arsenal - but every weapon counts when your life is on the line.

Somehow, back then, getting up every morning and choosing (emphasis on the choice) something cute to wear - something other than baggy sweats - became a means of self-care.  And self-care was severely lacking in my life, in that season.  Self-care still isn't my super power, but an awareness of my weaknesses is half the victory over them.

I by far don't have the perfect figure.  I by far do not consider myself photogenic or model material.  That is exactly, precisely why I have decided to be brave.  Several years back, I learned that I have to be brave, and be brave publicly as well as privately, so that perhaps others can find courage and permission to be the same.   So I even shot myself sleeveless.  

In years past, I would have wanted to just shoot myself, sleeveless.  Like, the bad kind of "shoot myself".  Today, here is what I really know:  women who practice self-compassion really are the best at having real compassion for others.  

When I see a woman who is hard on herself, I am actually a little afraid of her.  Because I know she would eventually turn some of that onto me.  I am not fooled by judgement, masquerading as self deprecation.  If she isn't happy with who she is, if she isn't using her very own unique gifts to be a blessing...she will at some point begrudge me for being happy with myself, and she will be jealous of me for using my gifts.  That's the  nature of unhappiness.

If she judges herself harshly, for how she talks or how she looks in a pair of shorts or a sleeveless top...she will judge me, too, eventually. 

You think about that.  

Women are the hardest on other women.  And why?  Because we are so dang hard on ourselves.

I'm breaking out.  I'm breaking free of all of it.  While you will never find me posting truly awful pictures of myself (well....actually, I sometimes do - because I find some of them hilarious) you also will hopefully never find me hating on myself.  I have made a covenant with my eyes, to look upon myself with a little bit of the same compassion and love I feel for those pictures of my granddaughters.

Who ever looked at a picture of their little girl, or their little grand-girl, and hated on it, or thought, "That's a terrible angle.  Look at that hair.  What an awful outfit."

Nobody in the whole history of ever, I hope.

I realize some of this flies in the face of religion.  While it is so very true that "humility is not thinking less of yourself, it is thinking of yourself, less" - I also believe true humility is impossible without a firm understanding of the covenant love of God.  When you practice true self-compassion (seeing yourself through the eyes of grace) it becomes easy to think of yourself less and less.  Met needs don't strive for attention.

So let's talk about the kimono.

Did you know you can wear it with just about anything?  You can wear it with shorts like artist Alisa Burke did here.

My favorite is to wear the kimono jacket with boyfriend jeans and a long, layered tank, with a long, lean necklace.  (See my necklace designs here)

Some of this goes against some of the prevailing "age appropriate dress" wisdom.  I have mixed feelings about those rules.  Some of them apply, some of them don't.  I am not one to wear purple nail polish or have little pictures painted on my nails or to wear patterned pants.  But I also wear with impunity some things that maybe the fashion Powers That Be might say an almost-50-year-old woman should not wear.

I'm good with that.  I think I have learned to split the difference in a way that works for me.

...the foundation of The Kimono Look.  Every kimono is worn over something, right? (Please tell me you wear yours over something...) But it has to be the right something.  In my opinion, a kimono over a short, casual dress works, but a kimono over a long dress or skirt doesn't.  The best thing to layer underneath, I think, are denim shorts and a T-shirt, or slouchy "boyfriend" jeans and a tank or T.  Caveat:  really, really ripped "boyfriend" jeans belong on no body but a 19 year old body, kapeesh?

So start with an outfit with "good bones" - your jeans or shorts, plus tank or T....

...then, just toss that kimono on!  Layers are our friends.

So, here is another kimono jacket, and another look:

To be quite honest, I didn't like the kimono I was wearing with the shorts...but it was the only one I had!  I took these shots earlier yesterday - and then today, after having a totally fun, absolutely delightful lunch with my sister (I digress...) I popped into Marshall's and found this little number - in 20 minutes flat -  on clearance for $11!

So when I got home, I tossed it on over the tank and boyfriend jeans I was already wearing, and broke out the remote shutter clicker thingy.

The things I do for you.

Made of a sheer polyester chiffon, this piece is actually sturdy, even though it is whispy and light.  I would think nothing of tossing it in the washing machine, hanging it to dry, and tossing it right back on my body.  Every. single. day.

I love it that much.

That's really it!  The kimono is the perfect, light, breezy, weightless layer to wear all summer long, especially if you are the kind who isn't happy with the way your arms look.

And if you are that kind, please don't say so around me...I'll get scared of you.

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