Tuesday, September 28, 2010

May as well start at ten

I read a lot of magazines. Well, that's not strictly true - I read some magazines and I look at the pictures in a lot of magazines.

I have read more top ten looks and top ten styles and ten most stylish people articles than I can be bothered remembering. Looks and styles interest me - the top ten stylish people do not. When I read a Shakespeare sonnet, I expect to feel icicles form on my spinal cord. Therefore when I read about someone who has enough money to feed a small country, an army of employees to attend to detritus of life, a team of dedicated professionals training and coaxing their bodies into shape and, AND, AND a raft of designers piling on free clothes, I expect them them to be stylish. How could they not be? I don't know why the resultant style is a worthwhile story, any more than a surgeon performing a successful kidney transplant is a story.

But an every day person with limited funds and a busy life who looks wonderful - that's true style.

So here's the first half of my list of top ten stylish people. I don't have photos, sorry, so you'll have to rely on my memory. And there's no apparent order. They were all fabulous.

1. The young woman in George Street last November. She was maybe 19, had malt coloured hair to her shoulders, no make up, honey skin, wore a simple very closely fitted white cotton shirt dress and a pair of sandshoes. The dress had a defined a-line skirt that just reached her knees. She was gorgeous the way young creatures are gorgeous and her complete lack of awareness of her beauty made her all the more delightful. She was walking towards me along this busy Sydney street and left a domino effect of turning heads - male and female - behind her.

2. The woman in a Sydney department store, Christmas, two years ago: I had stopped to look at a hokey Christmas display that featured an ill-thought out collection of Nativity scenes and toy trains. The trains were running through the manger. There was a tallish woman opposite me who I noticed in sections: YSL chain belt. Beautifully tailed white slouchy trousers. Gentle floral silk Georgette blouse. A throatful of pale Tahitian pearls the size of tulip bulbs. Matching earrings, but black Tahitian pearls. Very closely cropped grey hair. Marc Jacobs bag in the happiest shade of red. Closely matched red lipstick. Flat plain gold sandals. Blue eyes. She was any where between 65 and 75, possibly a little older. We both smiled , tilted our chins at the silly trains and smiled again.

3. The women on a lunch date. I loved this mob. There were four of them, maybe sisters and if not certainly best friends for decades, charging through Martin Place on a weekday. It was mid-winter and they were all in their best clothes - pleated tartan skirts, tights, tucked in blouses, neat blazers, artfully knotted scarves. I can't remember a specific outfit but cam still see the collective palette of moss, oak, molasses, rhubarb and licorice and their laughter. They walked four abreast, each leaning over the line to talk to each other, laughing like schoolgirls, unconcerned about anything but being together. They made my day.

4. The Uni student who caught my bus home a few months ago. She had a deep olive complexion and the sparkling greenish eyes that will sometimes go with it. Her outfit was quite simple - black leather ballet pumps. very dark blue skinny jeans, a long sleeve white t-shirt, a thin, smaller short sleeve pale pink t-shirt over the top and her hijab, also in a pale pink. The young Muslim girls will buy lengths of polyester fabrics from which to fashion their scarves and when they have cut the desired length, they'll wave the flame of a cigarette lighter around the edges so the material will melt a little and take on a corrugated edge. The student had done this and her scarf formed a wavy pale pink frame around her lovely face. She carried a huge canvas bag of books - all biology and chemistry.

5. Auntie Thelma. Thelma - or Tally, as she was known affectionately in my family, was my father's older sister. Dad was quite a bit older than mum so his siblings were quite of a different world. Thelma, in her late sixties when I knew her, was a grand dame of Lady Bracknell proportions with bright blue eyes but old grey photos show a cheeky slender girl with wonderful legs and a head of short amber curls. Thelma would visit every week or so and always come armed with a supermarket packaged lamington cake, a coat fastened with oversized buttons, stout leather shoes shiny as hot tar and a huge brooch fixed to her substantial bosom. Sometimes she carried a neat lady's' hand bag, sometimes she had a shopper because she planned to pick up some groceries on the way home. She sounds sweet and kindly but she was a shrewd, calculating person who you could not risk trusting for even a few moments. She swindled. lied, cheated and stole in different ways all through her life. She loved my dad though and she had, in their miserable poor childhood, looked out for him continuously. They were good mates. When she died she left me two huge old sparkly brooches that I proudly identify as my Thelmas whenever they are admired.

Well, that's five. Still to come - Sharon, Franca, the brown dress girl, the girl at the markets and the lady at the hospital.