|Mimi looking Grand even in a Target cowboy hat|
The first time I saw Mimi it was across a crowded room but not on an enchanted evening. The time was mid-morning, and it was open house for parents and toddlers at the local nursery school. She looked so chic, yet in a totally appropriate, Saturday-morning kind of way. I had no idea that kind of style existed in our outpost of exurbia. I figured I would need to step up my game.
Mimi and I became friends from the start. That was a long time ago; our boys are almost 36. She has constantly amazed me as she claims not to care about fashion, but she always looks marvelous. I decided to pin her down and found out some things worth remembering. We so-called fashionistas sometimes forget the basics.
First and foremost Mimi loves decorating. She can look at your room and tell you in a minute what needs to come in, go or move. She is one of the few people I know whose home reflects the season. She transforms it magically with pillows and throws and artwork— accessories, basically. In Mimi's world there are many seasons. I suspect she has a 20 x 20 storage facility somewhere filled with nothing but pillows.
I asked her point blank— after all these years— how come she manages to look put together, au courant and unique all at the same time. She didn't hesitate. "It's about good taste. That's the most important thing." Then, she said, as a stylist she has a good eye. She knows proportion and how to edit.
Just because dressing is not Mimi's number one priority doesn't mean she doesn't enjoy clothes. She knows what flatters and doesn't fall prey to trends that won't. She prefers pants and long skirts and loves loves loves statement jewelry (much of which she fashions herself from flea market finds). She mixes things up with tops— easy to update and change out and easy on the budget. She also has the "blessing of enormous closets", a good organization system and a good memory.
I had a theory about her that she tore to smithereens. I figured that since Mimi wore a school uniform for years, and even in what was otherwise a glamorous job (hostess at the Vatican Pavilion during the New York World's Fair), she was less interested in fashion because it was not part of her daily life. Wrong! Mimi's mother was a buyer for high-end boutiques in Puerto Rico and South America. She was surrounded by clothes. Her mother had boxes and boxes of clothes sent home for Mimi to choose from. At the same time she saw first hand how important fashion can be during summers spent with cousins and aunts in Puerto Rico. She says, "It was almost a relief to get back to the uniform!" As a blatant act of rebellion, 1960s style, Mimi insisted she wanted her wedding dress at full retail and headed straight to Saks Fifth Avenue.
So here's what I learned:
> Dress for the occasion and respect your audience. That's showing good taste.
> Know yourself and don't meander into fashion directions that won't fit your figure or your psyche.
> It's the accessories that add pizazz and individuality to your wardrobe— and your home.
> Never underestimate the importance of closets— or a 20 x 20 storage facility.