Sunday, October 30, 2011

Friends with Style: Ellen

When I asked Ellen Greene if I could interview her for "Allways in Fashion" she wrote back happy to do so but completely perplexed. She considers herself neither fashionable nor stylish. I hate to break it to you, Ellen, but you are not only that but unique and totally unaware of your beauty.

The first things you notice about Ellen are her smile and that she is giving you 100% of her attention. She has the rare ability to be both a great listener and a great raconteur. Ellen and I were co-workers with benefits— by that I mean we worked together for many years and also forged a lovely friendship in our down time at the office. Her work in the food department at Woman's Day put her in touch with readers all over the country. It's safe to say Ellen made friends in the thousands.

Ellen's style is Classic American— timeless and ageless. She has refined it to fit herself so seamlessly she doesn't even realize she's done it.

AIF: How would you define your style?

EG: What most defines my style is my shirt collars. I take all the standard collars off my shirts, then cut them down and re-insert them so they are Mandarin-style stand-up collars. I'm known for that. Sometimes my shirts come that way.

AIF: What are your earliest fashion-related memories?

EG: When I was twelve I had a dress I wore all one summer. It was an elasticized semi off-the-shoulder with a wide elasticized waist. I remember that dress more than anything else except a dark blue leather coat that my mother brought over when we left Germany. It had a plaid lining, and I wore it several years.

AIF: What trend, style or person has most influenced you?

EG: Katherine Hepburn, but I don't really try to dress like her.

AIF: What's your favorite everyday go-to outfit?

EG: Blue jeans and a work shirt or white shirt (of course with a reconfigured collar).

AIF: What will you never wear?

EG: Anything turquoise.

AIF: What's one item in your wardrobe you can't live without?

EG: Blue jeans.

AIF: What was your "best buy"? 

EG: I had a day of best buys about twenty years ago— a plaid Viyella shirt originally from Cache that had a straight line and fell below the hips (I fixed the collar). I bought it at a thrift shop for $10. I also found a very stylish polyester blouse that looks like silk at another thrift shop. It wraps around in a very unusual way. It was $12. I still wear both. I also bought a long yellow rain slicker. That is now gone, but it cost $20.

AIF: What was "the one that got away"?

EG: I don't have one. I'm not that fashion conscious.

AIF: What do you think when a woman says she's too old/doesn't have time for fashion?

EG: I do think clothes should fit, especially pants. Can't stand women in baggy ones.

AIF: If you had to pack a travel bag and could only bring 10 items, what would they be?

EG: First I would lay all my clothes and my money on the bed. I would take half my clothes and twice the money. The rest depends on where I'm going.

AIF: What's your beauty routine?

EG: I don't have one. I do take all my makeup off at night.

AIF: Where do you shop today?

EG: Zara, Daffy's and Macy's (because it's close)

AIF: How has your style changed/evolved over time?

EG: It's gotten more informal now that I don't work. However I'm trying to change that. I just bought some dressier daytime things.

AIF: How else are you updating your wardrobe?

EG: I saved about five pairs of boots when they were popular umpteen years ago.  There are two pairs of black, one dark brown, one pair of tan cowboy boots (bought in Cheyenne), and a pair of medium brown woven leather. They're perfect for now and still fit, so I'm buying slim pants and jeans so I can wear them again. I love them and feel so hip.

AIF: Do you have any advice for younger women as they grow into themselves?

EG: I can't comment because one of my failings is that I dress too young. I refuse to dress my age. Can't help it.

Just so you know, Ellen does not dress "too young". She is most assuredly not the dreaded "mutton dressed as lamb". She does dress appropriately for her figure (which is great) and to express her joie de vivre. She's never been shy about stating her age (now 78) which is admirable and inspiring to those of us who start to get hedgy about the subject. I know the idea is not dressing to fit a number but dressing to fit your self. I look forward to seeing her high-stepping in those boots.

Ellen (sans boots) and George at the beach

1 comment:

  1. I completely agree about the turquoise.