Sunday, January 22, 2006

First Impressions

"Fashion is not something that exists in dresses only. Fashion is in the sky, in the street, fashion has to do with ideas, the way we live, what is happening."

I was reading today, on AOL Entertainment news, that quite a little fashion faux pas took place at this year's Golden Globe Awards. It seems that the beautiful dress that Reese Witherspoon wore was very similar to a dress worn to the 2003 Golden Globes by Kirsten Dunst. So similar in fact, that it wasn't just similar, it was the very same dress! A fashion no-no to be sure, and not one that the actress herself would have committed on her own. Reese, I am afraid had some help in this fashion mix-up, from none other then the prestigious fashion house that owns the dress... Chanel. Coco must be turning over in her grave! I kinda doubt something like this would have occurred in her lifetime, but if it might it have been received in her day as opposed to now?

"Dress shabbily they notice the dress, dress impeccably they notice the woman." That is one of my favorite quotes by Coco Chanel, because it is really speaking about more then just the apparel we choose to wear, it is also says a lot about how we conduct ourselves and the impressions we might make. I have never believed that clothes make the person, but they do say a little about us. If we carry ourselves with a certain amount of class and character however, it will come across clearer then what we wear, although one should never forget that our clothes do have the first opportunity to make the first impression for us. What we choose to wear directly influences the first initial impression we make in person.

I have seen some gorgeous people, by usual society standards, wearing only the finest and most current of trends in fashion, here a label, there a label and look like a million bucks, only to ruin their whole appearance by opening their mouth and allowing something hurtful or socially unacceptable to spew forth from their lips. Believe me you can dress some folks up, but outside packaging will not change the fact that they are spoiled on the inside. I have yet to find the fashion house that can accomplish a personality change with a bolt of fabric and a spool of thread. I am thinking about some of the parties that my good friend June used to throw.

Every year I was expected to attend two events at June's house, without excuse. Academy Awards night and New Year's Eve. Now, most of the time I looked forward to her parties, she knew some very interesting people and I except for a few duds that I knew would be there, it was a classy way to spend an evening. June always had a nice cross section of folks at her parties as well, and she just had a way with making folks feel comfortable because she knew who would enjoy each other's company. For instance she rarely invited too many of her more politically opposed friends to the same function...except for Oscar night and New Year's Eve. LOL. It was on those nights that I suppose she figured that we could all try for the one night to put our attitudes and ideals aside, and just enjoy the food and the fashion and the atmosphere. Sometimes it worked sometimes it didn't but it was always interesting.

In that I am a people watcher, by nature, I usually enjoyed just jumping in and allowing myself to absorb whatever happened around me. Don't get me wrong, I am not a wallflower at this kind of gathering, I will join in, but I like to take in the room I am in and the people gathered around me for a little while when I arrive at a party. Listening is such an important part of getting along with people. Sometimes that is all they really want...someone to listen. To their politics, their life story, their charitable work, their interests. Now, there is nothing like getting cornered by an absolute bore, lol, but I always had to wonder when it would happen...who didn't listen to them? I am right here, I am at the same party, instead of being bored to tears because their interests couldn't interest me less, couldn't I share a little about myself with them? What is the worst that could possibly happen? After all, for one night we are on the same path, so why not check to see if the journey can be a less lonely one. Besides, there is never a good excuse for poor behavior.

Do you suppose that last Monday night, when Reese showed up at the after party for the Golden Globes, having just won her award for her performance in, "Walk The Line," that the other guests made sure they pointed out the embarrassing coincidence to her? No, probably not. Not if the had any kind of acceptable manners. In fact, Reese showed up to the affair knowing there had been some kind of mistake made. She SHOWED UP. No running off in a fit of tears, no demanding answers in a divaish high-pierced fit of rage, and no histrionics. No, but she did however request some answers. Not hard to understand I think, considering she had been promised vintage Chanel. Chanel's response regarding the snafu was an apology for the "oversight," and a gratulations to the actress on her win. It's hard to say where the mistake was made, according to the actresses publicist, Reese Witherspoon was told her dress would be vintage, but according to a press release from Chanel the gown was described as vintage, but the gown was actually from the 2002 couture collection and isn't considered vintage.

The mistake does seem to rest with Chanel, and it proves my point that you can have the most elegant of style, and the best of intentions and still get it all profoundly wrong. Celebrity stylist Phillip Bloch said it best when he told the AP that Reese Witherspoon, "...was a victim of the fashion powers that be." I kind of admire the fact that she didn't go overboard to make the mistake much worse then it already was. So far, from every indication, she carried herself like a lady, and that will never go out of style. She didn't make herself a victim that night. She knew demeanor is the impression that people of substance will remember years from now. You just can't fake class, you can't rent it, and you can't pretend it doesn't matter. She knows her self-worth and she wears it everyday no matter what clothes she chooses.

Tell me what you think. Is too much importance put on style? If you had been Reese would you have handled things differently? Have you ever met someone dressed a certain way and made a snap decision based on what they were wearing before they spoke to you? Were you right with that first impression? Is there anything wrong with staying current to the trends in fashion? Is it a good idea to change your personal style from time to time? Is it true that you, "Never get a second chance to make a first impression?" Do manners go before personal style?



Karen Funk Blocher said...

I don't know. The idea that nobody should wear a dress that was previously seen four years ago is totally foreign to me. After all, I only own one dress! It does sound as though she handled the situation well, though. Good for her!

Your reminiscence about Juns's parties reminds me of an item I read today about Bill Shatner. On John's birthday, he's going to be on TV Land, in a kind of day-in-the-life show. I'm interested in seeing that. Why, just this morning I chatted with Shatner while helping across some wet pavement - in my dreams! Then today he's in the news. Weird coincidence, huh?


Polly said...

I was searching online in order to get some inspiration for my coming essay. And accidentally, I read your article and have found it fascinating.
When celebrities put on the same outfits during public occasions, the moment is always caught by the journalists. Sure, celebrity does not have privacy.
My point here is dress is merely a garment. It is the combination with the person that can give it a meaning. Just by looking at the two celebrities in the same dress, I am sure you would have different impressions for these two people. So one's poise and mettle determine the image of the dress.
It is not wrong to wear the same dress, however it is wrong to wear something that can't respresent ourselves.

DesLily said...

First off if i were Reese and someone told me that Kirsten wore the same dress I think I'd say "Well, what do you know, someone else has good taste besides me!"

But then I am the queen of sweats and jeans!

If someone would not take the time to acknowledge me in sweats but would when all dressed up I'd say that I probably wouldn't want to talk to them anyway.

Many times "how you look" is the icebraker, which is all to sad, but often very true.

Solitary Dancer said...

What can I say. I am not into fashion and could care less what anyone wore 4 years ago. LOL I'm a jeans and t-shirt kinda gal and proud of it. :-)

Hugs my friend,


Patrick said...

Fashion-clueless guy's take here:

I've never understood the "rule" that you can never wear the same outfit more than once.

Guys do it all the time. Those of us who are forced to attend formal gatherings generally have one (maybe two) tuxedoes, and that's it. (We may have more than one set of bowties and cummerbunds; we might have a couple of sets of cufflinks. Or not.)

New occasion? Pull out the same tuxedo. No one says a word.

In "normal daily life," women in the workplace regularly wear the same outfits. They bring in new accessories, and even phase in an occasional new outfit from time to time, but they still wear their favorite outfits more than once.

To me, it's what the outfit makes the person look like that draws my eye to it. I'd never question someone wearing a dress that someone else wore previously, particularly if we're talking years ago! I just don't get this double standard in fashion etiquette that women are forced to endure. I think far too much importance is placed on style; for that matter, I think far too much is placed on the celebrities wearing it, too. You're quite right that sporting the latest fashion doesn't excuse bad behavior; and to the extent that young people hold celebrities on a pedestal as role models, their behavior is far more damaging than a fashion mistake.

Given the unfortunate amount of importance people put on such things, I agree that it took a lot of courage for Reese to show up. But the mistake is one that I think shouldn't have clouded her evening.

My advice to the Reese Witherspoons: wear what you feel flatters you and makes you comfortable. If Suzy Schmoo wore the same dress in 2001, just hope that she felt as good in it as you feel while wearing it in 2006.

I especially like what you said here:

Listening is such an important part of getting along with people. Sometimes that is all they really want...someone to listen.

So very true.

redsneakz said...

Hell, I thought it was a prom dress. But then again, Eccos and a pair of Dockers is haute couture in my set.

Dave said...

Carly, I have to say it's kinda important to dress with some fashion sense. I used to date this girl who had absolutely no fashion sense whatsoever. I gave her fashion advice. And I don't mean it was a little bad, I mean it, do you really want to leave wearing that...kind of thing.


We have been conditioned by our overly asthetic society. After all, it doesn't matter what's on the inside, as long as we package it correctly, right?


Laura said...

We do seem to place so much importance on style and fashion. Look at the press this "oops" has received.
Personally, I thought reese looked amazing that night. She dressed impeccably and yes, we noticed the woman. While the entertainment press is all abuzz over this terrible thing, I believe Reese has shown the lady the sem seems to be in her public demeanor by not saying anything. That in itself is far more admirable than the "vintage" dress she wore that night.
I imagine you're right. Coco is reeling and if she could come back, heads would roll in the House of Chanel.

DEREK said...

I thought she glowed the whole night. She's got class!

Anonymous said...

It's funny...looking at those pictures side by side, Kristin looks like a LITTLE GIRL in that dress, while Reese looks like a beautiful, glowing and poised woman.

"If the dress fits..."

sunflowerkat said...

I only saw a blip of the program but I do remember seeing Reese and I thought she looked great! I was not aware of this little fashion travesty....but in retrospect, I think she handled herself with 100% class.

It's just too bad that the "trappings" are so darned important.