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Is style something a woman is born with or can she develop it over time? Or do styles catch up with a woman if she holds the line?

Oh, honey, forget that mullet haircut idea--you remember how you justified it: "practical in the front, party in the back"--that was never a good idea in any era. And, heaven forbid, if it comes around again, it will still be bad. On the other hand, the beehive, in all its outrageous permutations, from Marie Antoinette to Cindy Wilson from the B-52's and Ab-Fab's Patsy keeps coming around looking just as baroque and brash as ever. So you keep on teasing and hanging with the Aquanet, girl!

I know. I am an unlikely fashionista. I look more like the hefty Midwestern farm girl I aspire to be than the nervy, bulimic, shopaholic fag hag that I have been now and again. Maybe wearing all the too-tight, decade-old hand-me-downs from my sisters made me fashion self-conscious while giving me a first-hand lesson in vintage: scratchy wool underwear from the 1960's and polyester jumpsuits retain odors for YEARS and brew some of their very own over the years of being in mothballs. Nossiree, you never forget your first hand-me-down polyester jumpsuit. If the term 'cameltoe' had been around then, I woulda likely been the prickly heat-afflicted, polyester-clad poster child.

But my years as a costume designer and wardrobe mistress taught me a few things about cut and fit and drape and fabric. I can do an entire thrift store in 15 minutes, just by looking at the quality of fabric, the set of a shirt collar, the finish on a sleeve. All very well and good for the busty woman playing Appassionata von Climax in a shoestring budget production of Li'l Abner or the waify Creole playing Macbeth's heath-dwelling witch. So why did it take me years more to learn that daily dressing is simply a matter of costuming oneself just as much as dressing Cinderella for the Chicago Opera?

Even for someone interested in fashion, style took a while to develop. Maybe especially for someone interested in fashion, it takes a while. Trying trendy things that don't look good on you, trying not to care because you feel fat and you feel like you don't deserve to be interested in fashion, or trying not to look like you care about keeping up with fashion because it's so superficial.

But it's not. And fashion isn't style.

Life is the role of a lifetime. Dress the part!

Decide what point you want to make and then make it. Like a player who struts and frets his hour upon a stage. Use trendy stuff only if it helps you make your point, or to show people you haven't been in a coma for the past 10 years.If you find great second hand stuff that looks a little worn, use it to your advantage! It says "I've had this for years! I thought it was cool before it became cool. And I don't care if it ceases to become cool. It works for my character in this particular scene."

And maybe that's style. Fashion will catch up with you later.

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