Over the seven years that I’ve been writing about style and body image in this space, I’ve brought up the subject of compliments dozens of times. Since I believe that caring about your appearance is a valuable part of general self-care – and that you have a brain AND a body, and shouldn’t ignore one and favor the other – I enjoy both giving out and receiving compliments about my personal style. Words of praise from strangers and friends have bolstered my confidence at times, and I try to pay that forward.
But I have found style- and appearance-related compliments to be a surprisingly contentious topic here. Although many enjoy both giving and receiving compliments, others feel that any comments on appearance are invasive or unwelcome. Some would prefer to be praised for accomplishments or strengths over biology or taste. A few are unnerved by compliments like, “You look lovely today” because the underlying message may be that today is the exception not the rule. Others have had traumatic experiences with catcalling and street harassment and just prefer to avoid any interaction that centers on discussions of appearance. And many more have offered nuanced and personal reasons and preferences surrounding praising style and appearance.
Every so often, I feel the need to revive this conversation and probe a bit deeper. So: How do you feel about being complimented on your style or appearance by peers, friends, or friendly strangers? Do you offer compliments to others? If you enjoy these interactions, why do you find them pleasant or valuable? If you avoid or dislike them, what upsets or unnerves you?
I don’t think of myself as a Drama Queen. I’m usually pretty even-keeled and cool-headed; I figure life hands us enough drama already so why manufacture it?
But I’ll admit to loving clothes that add just a little bit of drama to an outfit, and this long cardigan does just that. I’ve tried to balance the boldness of the sweater and striped tee with softer grey pieces, and have added some gold with the bracelets for a little warmth.
Earrings: Alexis Bittar // Scarf: Eileen Fisher from last year, similar // Long Cardigan: Eileen Fisher, (similar style from Asos) // Top: R13, similar from Gap (long sleeves) // Bracelets: Stella & Dot, few years old, similar and Aurelie Bidermann // Jeans: NYDJ // Shoes: several years old, surprisingly similar from ECCO.
I purchased these shoes in Paris in 2008. They’re a brand called One Step which I’ve never seen anywhere since. At the time, I’d been on the hunt for a pair of “shooties” in this shape but with lower heels that anything I’d found up to that point. I spotted these in the window of a small shoe shop in the Marais, and it was the start of a beautiful and lasting romance. OK, so maybe I got a little dramatic there.
Do you have a favorite “dramatic” piece in your wardrobe?
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Already Pretty contributor Une Femme is fifty-seven, married to the same wonderful monsieur since 1995, the mother of a special-needs teenager and two hooligan dogs, a full-time administrative professional, a coffee-holic, Paris-obsessed, native Californian, and a petite and curvy femme d’un certain age. She believes that personal style is an essential form of self-expression, and started her blog, une femme d’un certain âge, in 2007 hoping to start a conversation about style for women over 50.
Mattie of the blog Mattieology styles her unstructured trench as a topper in this edgy casual outfit. I’m always a fan of repeating colors for continuity, and she does a fabulous job here with her black and red shoes echoing the print on her tee. Check her original post for details about this inspired outfit!