We are opening our "You Are Style" series, based on the belief that no two people should dress alike, to you, the reader. 58-year-old gardener, importer, and Huffington Post reader Susan Galka is our first subject. Below, she shows us a few of her favorite things.
And if you would like us to consider your celebration of personal style, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and tell us a little bit about yourself. Be sure to include some photos.
How would you describe your style and what does it mean to you?
My style is as important to having a happy and productive day as popping out of bed with a smile each morning. At age 58, I've been through all the original as well as regurgitated "in" looks, and now have the freedom to just dress as I want. I own a landscaping and Eastern imports business www.lookeasttraders.com and to counter the stress of having to be so adult about the inherent responsibility, I choose to wear playful colors and silhouettes.
How do you feel about trends?
The good things never become obsolete. Style is not about trends. It's about determining what reflects one's spirit first and enhances body type second.
Do you have a favorite style item? What makes it special to you?
Perhaps the cornflower blue, softest suede lace up work boots I found on sale (yay!) on an Italian fashion website. Or my black, tea-length organdy cocktail dress with a sweetheart neckline and layers of crinoline underneath a fully-gathered skirt...it's twirlable! And the necklaces made from shells I picked from a beach in the South China Sea, where I was very happy and very much myself...I wear a few of them together just about every day.
Whose style do you most admire?
Audrey Hepburn, since I was a little girl. She's timeless.
Has your style changed over time?
Of course, as life takes so many turns. When I was in my 20's I dressed pretty much as I do now- a Woodstock girl who also loved fancy things and a wanna-be clothing designer who took another path. Gardener. I owned a very hip shop in the city and could really vamp it up when I felt like it. I still wear things from way back then.
My look got a bit more serious while raising my kids. Maybe it was that we'd moved from Chicago- a multi-textured city that celebrates self-expression- to an outlying, more conservative community. Involvement in school district and other efforts required a more sober, suited look. And it was the eighties, blech- the post-disco, big shoulder era. I loved my life there but it did feel style-constrained.
One of the perks of moving back East and also getting older and being bolder is just not caring so much about what others think. I can more freely express who I am in how I dress, have more fun with it and not be concerned with how it's judged. Undoubtedly the expression will change as I do.
Can you recall a great (or significant) moment in your life and what you were wearing?
"My Fair Lady"...1957, Broadway. I was 7 years old. It was my first Broadway show. It was magic. My mother always dressed me beautifully. I wore a bluebird-print dress with full skirt and dark blue velvet sash. Black patent Capezio shoes...the ones with straps that buttoned up with little white buttons. After that, I was going to grow up to be a Broadway star and a clothing designer. And a princess... and marry Rex Harrison.
Are there certain physical features that inform your style?
I've always been thin and flat, so I can wear most things, but not strapless or slinky. I suppose it's another reason why I loved Audrey...she made it ok to be thin. It's an odd thing to grapple with a body issue that's counter to most.
What's the best style advice you were ever given or would want to give others?
As in all great aesthetics, break the rules smartly, don't over-think your choices and just have fun. Express the one-of-a-kind you proudly. What you wear can put a smile on your face, a bounce in your walk on a gray day and perk up the folks around you, too. Style is both about dressing to enhance one's mood and to impact how genuinely and pleasingly one is experienced by others.