Gooo-deeevuhningah. It’s totally nighttime right now, because these personal posts always take me forever. Oh and we’re totally gonna get to these dresses in a second, promise. (Maybe not a second.) But first, this.
I’m a big Claire Pettibone fan… I mean honestly who isn’t, I’m not reinventing the wheel here. Whether or not they’re your specific style, her gowns are the stuff of dreamscapes, and it’s hard not to ogle and admire their delicate details and playfulness with color. They are nothing if they are not deeply inspired… which they are, and in a big way.
The images of these gowns were some of my personal faves to arrive in TKB’s inbox. And the plan was that I was gonna write what I was feeling today like usual, whether or not it was related to the gowns, and then share the dresses. Done and done. And then all hell broke loose, because I read Claire’s brief story about the inspiration for her latest collection which I’ve included below and invite you to read right about now:
“My grandmother was quite the 1920’s bohemian… her first husband was a rum-runner during prohibition, and was mysteriously killed in a “motorcycle” accident. She never talked about him, and I was a grown woman when my mom shared the scandal that my grandpa (her father) was not grandma’s first love. I’ve been thinking about Anna Mae, and looking at the photos of her second wedding that we all thought was her first. She wore a beautiful mauve scalloped silk dress with a velvet sash at the hip, round spectacles and stylish Mary Jane’s. Grandma has long passed, but I have her wedding dress, the intricate embroidered linens she made by hand, her gold rimmed china with delicate painted roses… and a good dose of her free spirit. The sweet and simple details of our heirlooms: lace linens, golden lockets, fine china, don’t they make lovely inspiration for a wedding dress?” — Claire Pettibone.
Uhhhhh. I don’t know about you, but this is incredible. A designer who feels free enough to share her life’s truths with us, with such ease and wonderment, is a designer after my own heart. When I read passages like that one above, a breeze of crisp, fresh air fills my lungs with life, lingers a bit to make its mark, and then breathes new life into my surroundings when I finally exhale. Designers like Claire inspire me, mind, body and soul. Bambino also feels this way. Breathes new life into him, too. I think it even has this special effect of making him think his old toys are all brand new. It’s either the life-air or the ‘being a dog.’
Now, if you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed that I tweeted an inspirational quote I heard while watching Bethenny With A Baby And Marriage Difficulties or whatever the title is of her latest spin-off of her other, previous spin-off. In the episode I watched, Lucy Danziger, Editor-In-Chief of SELF chatted with Bethenny before her cover shoot for the magazine. Bethenny was frazzled, more than normal. Like all of us, she was having an emotional reaction to the trouble of balancing it all and keeping up appearances. And in their conversation about life and keeping it together and the difficulties we all face as human beings, Lucy told her this:
“If people aren’t willing to be vulnerable and say, ‘I have these weaknesses and here is how I overcame them,’ then we can never teach each other.”
What Lucy said to Bethenny was on another level. It’s like, *the key* to living a life with purpose. You just really have to make yours count. And that doesn’t mean you have to join the Peace Corps, though of course I encourage you to if that’s your jam. Here’s what it means to me– it means not putting up a front. So, for example, I’m the editor of TKB, right? It means that when someone asks me how I do it, I tell them “very difficulty.” I don’t tell them running TKB is cake walk, because helllllls no it isn’t. It’s WORK. And I’m still learning. I have questions every. single. day. about how I can improve this or that. Blog speed. Key words. SEO. I have no interest in saying to people that I know exactly how to do everything in my field, because what’s the point of that? No one knows everything, and we’re all learning how to do things and get by in this life. And to feel that appearing like you’re always totally happy and always totally in the know, is to rob yourself of useful learning and bonding experiences that can arise from being able to speak without restraint about any little thing that’s bothering you or you’re facing.
I wish people would stop trying to keep it together in a presentable enough way, just for the sake of appearing like they are good at keeping it together. What is the point of that, like, ultimately? A lot of us spend so much time wanting to come off happy all the time. Wanting to appear that we feel bright and cheery every single day. Wanting to seem completely in control all of the time. When we’re not. No one is. No really, like NO ONE is, every day! It’s simply not human to have zero challenges in life, or zero flaws in your character. It took me a long-ass time to realize that, by the way. And I certainly still don’t have all the answers, obvs. I just have the fortune of counsel of some very good women and men in my life, from whom I’ve learned a few of the essential truths of how to live life in a way that won’t make it so challenging, emotionally, every day. At base, it’s really all about letting go of the need to look like you have all of your s**t together, and embracing the realness of one simple thing: that we’re all struggling in this world, and that all of us want to be happy. (Not look or appear happy, be happy. So why are we spending so much time trying to get the ‘appear happy’ part down? Looking or appearing happy is not a legitimate goal a person should have, yet I find it’s the goal of a crapload of people in this world.) So you wanna get there? Well it forreals starts with having your s**t together and figuring out how to appear happy! hahaa, nah, I’m just kidding. Just tryin to lighten the mood, it’s pretty heavy, my bad :) So but yeah, achieving happiness forreallyreal starts with keeping it real. You know, keeping it really real. Like, sharing what’s *really* going on in our personal lives with people we feel we can trust. Omigod I can’t even BEGIN to tell you how critical some conversations with friends have been to my life, when I’ve told them the truth about an issue Honey and I were having, or an emotional reaction I was having that I wasn’t sure was the right reaction to have. Friends will open up LIKE CRAZY if you open up to them. And ohhhhh the things you’ll learn from each other! Magical. Truly magical.
I happen to bare my soul here on the blog a bunch, it’s one of the ways I keep it real, but obvs. you don’t have to do it on a blog. It’s about the conversations you have with friends, or with loved ones (or even with yourself– being honest with yourself is often a challenge but it can be incredibly eye-opening). You’d be amazed how connected you can feel with a person in a single moment, when the two of you realize that, for example, you’ve both had moments in life where you’ve completely fallen apart emotionally over your own appearance. Or how you both might feel that you don’t know how to communicate with your significant other, or that you feel that you and your fiance argue differently, and so you never feel like you get anywhere when you have a disagreement, and how infuriating that is to you. Trust me, there are a lot of people who are just. like. you. In almost every way. If you’re feeling something, a gazillion people before you and after you have and will feel that same way in their own lives. Just decide to say it out loud and see what happens.
I HAVE GONE ON LONG ENOUGH, HAVEN’T I? WOWZERS. But I do want to know, if you’re willing to tell me– have you had moments like this? Where you’ve bared your soul to someone you know and felt relief over the shared experience? Whether with a friend, or with a family member. Have you had a parent or parent figure in your life who has kept it real with you, and helped you become comfortable with your own truths, because they were comfortable enough in their own selves to keep it real with you and tell you they’ve been there, done that, and learned from it? DEEP, deep stuff, I know. I know. I’m a little heavy today, forgive me. Blame Claire? No, don’t blame Claire, blame me for getting all thoughtful about a simple little story she told us about her super cool grandma.
Ok forreals, you’ve suffered enough at the hand of my verbal diarrhea; here we go with the dresses that started it all…
(seriously, dying over this one. DYING.)
So, here’s what I’m wondering…
1) Do you have any fave dresses, or fave details?
2) Have you ever sat down with a parent, a parent figure, a grandmother or grandfather, or really anyone who’s important to you and has contributed to shaping your life… and had one of those *eye-opening* conversations with them? Do you feel like you’ve learned important life lessons from your relatives/loved ones, that you wouldn’t really know, at least right now, had you not had that opportunity to speak about real life, or maybe insecurities, or difficult pasts, or any other not often discussed types of issues in life?
The conversations I’ve had specifically with my own mother, about her past and the things she has gone through, good and bad, have been essential to molding the person I have become, and continue to grow into. There are truths about life that, if she hadn’t revealed to me in willfully vulnerable moments that what I’m feeling or doing is normal BECAUSE SHE FELT IT OR DID IT, TOO – honestly, you just can’t believe sometimes how much goodness can come out of telling someone your truth. You just, it’s unbelievable.
I wonder if you feel me on this.
I’m super interested to hear what your thoughts are. Or anecdotes, or experiences. You know, if you care to share with me.
xoxo - Alison
images provided by Claire Pettibone