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9.03.2012

Mama Matsuo Musing #3: "Ship" Shape

Welcome to another installment of "Mama Matsuo's Musings" where I get to pass on the sage fashion & beauty advice of my beautiful, Japanese mother. Today's tip has seen me through every clothing season to date and has been completely fail-proof!

Mama Matsuo Musing #3: You Can Never Go Wrong With Nautical

Ahoy, matey! (And, yes, I know sailors don't wear these hats. Bad hair day & couldn't find my red knitted cap!)
Every one of us has a little sailor or captain directing the winds of our lives inside of them, helping us navigate this crazy thing called life. (OooOOooh, philosophical!) And because of this, I get the feeling that everyone can relate to nautical fashion. Think it's a stretch? Sit tight. I'm getting to the good stuff.

Looking back on my clothed years, I can see my mother instilled this concept in me from a very young age, starting with the aesthetic of stripes and even convincing me (while I was very much a punk & a goth) that navy was an incredibly flattering color.

Though my fear of the ocean is pretty serious - you'd find me hardpressed to stand in water that reaches above my thighs and getting me to take a night swim would probably be as likely to happen as trying to get me to swallow lava (Thanks, Jaws) - sitting on a beach and staring off into the surf gives me a sense of stillness and peace. I long to live the salty, briny, hard-working life of a sailor, where nothing matters but getting through the fishing season and coming out on top. (Someone's been watching too much Discovery channel. Someone named...me.)

Alternately, I have had fantasies of being a lighthouse keeper in my heavy peacoat and wool cap, bringing ships safely home through mazes of jagged rock and unrelenting swells. You might chalk this up to reading too many oceanic epics (go read We, the Drowned if you haven't yet) and that may be true.

...but if I can't go off to sea (something tells me my husband would be against this idea - putting my life in danger and being gone for months at a time was never his bag ), the least I can do is adapt its aesthetic to my closet. Thanks to Mama Matsuo, I've been able to sculpt a rather fashion-friendly alternative to the sailor's life. No beard-growing necessary.

You Too Can Wear Stripes!

I've heard it before. "My chest is too big" or "I'm too fat" or "my midsection is too thick"...all in defense of wearing stripes. Well, let me tell you something. I don't believe it. Sure, horizontal stripes can have an illusion of widening, but nautical stripes are about as classic as a white t-shirt...and, guess what? White looks bigger than black. So, that classic white T that everyone is so "anyone can wear it" about might make you seem bigger than you are.
By the by, I'm not knocking the white T. I'm a white T advocate. (James Dean? SWOON!) What I'm trying to explain is that horizontal stripes are fresh and fun and perfect for anyone at any age with any body type. It's all about how you wear it. Haven't I mentioned how confidence is the most attractive accessory? I still believe that, so get your inner Ishmael going already. Throw your stripes on and go conquer the sea (OF YOUR LIFE - see what I did there?)

Here's my number. So, call me...NAVY.

Yes, I just did that. Did you flinch? Bet you did...and I bet you loved it.

Ok, remember what I had mentioned earlier? About Navy? Navy looks great on EVERYONE. I haven't met a single person that it looked horrendous on. For the record, it looks great on most animals as well. Navy, to me, is what black never was. It's everything that black is - modern, clean, slimming, yet timeless...but in addition to what it has in common with black, it also keeps you from looking like a goth, a theatre tech crew member, or like you're on your way to a funeral. (By the way, I LOVE the color black and I enjoy looking like a tech crew member, so step off!)

Get yourself a well-tailored, navy anything. Sweater, dress, poncho (I have one of these, and you don't even have to stress yourself out about tailoring), slacks, pencil skirt. WHATEVER. Once you start wearing it, you'll quickly see that it goes with every color (even neon) and has the magical effect of making you feel put-together. Translation: Navy is the new black...that is as classic as black...and probably just as old as black. So, really it stands alone. It's not new. It's a secret.

Navy. Do it.

Color 101

Rest assured that if you ever wear nautical items, your risk of clashing drops significantly. Your only concern will be to stay away from only wearing yellow and red together. No one wants to channel Ronald McDonald, but aside from that you can mix and match to your hearts desire. Navy, ecru, and yellow! Red and navy! Ecru and yellow! Navy and yellow! Ecru and red! I could go on, but all these exclamation points are annoying me. (Ok, Nami, we get it. You're excited about not clashing.)

The Boys Club

Nothing heightens a woman's femininity quite like boyish clothes. I'm talking about something subtle and poetic. Everyone can wear a push up bra and a low cut shirt and be all, "look! boobs!" That's not quite the femininity I'm referring to. This falls into the category of wearing your boyfriend or husband's button-down shirt. Something about a man's cut on a woman's body makes her girlish features seem that much more prominent.

White looks that much brighter when it's put next to black. Are you getting what I'm saying?

My mother never had the body of a Greek goddess. When she was my age, we had the same figure. Slim, though she has more in the chest than I do. (Damn you, mom! Couldn't you have passed THOSE genes on to me?) Anyway, despite her rather boyish figure, my mother always looked wildly feminine and even to this day with her cropped hair, stripes, and boatnecks, she's never looked so lovely and womanly.

Timeless Pieces...From the Sea

 There's a reason why nautical fashion has never died. It's because it has fallen into the category of "timeless & classic". Other hall-of-famers there include the little black dress, the chignon, red nails, dark denim, and a well-tailored suit. In addition to being part of this elite fashion set, nautical threads also have the added perk of being born of the sea (like Aphrodite) and donned by a bunch of hardworking men (not like Aphrodite). I don't know about you, but I'm a sucker for history and that's pretty historic in my eyes.

Yellow slickers, navy & ecru stripes, red caps, peacoats...are you kidding me? I would wear all of these things every day if the weather allowed. (I'm in LA. The weather does not allow...I'm desperately waiting for autumn to hit.)

So, there it is. Another gem from my mother. You can go another day without clashing or being trendily (I made up a word!) unaware. If you ever find yourself unsure of whether this season's leather pants and wild accessories that are the size of your head and weigh about as much as a kettlebell will work for you and you're strapped for time, just channel your inner sailor and find safety in the world of oceanic aesthetics.

I'll end this with wise words from Christopher Cross' hit 80's yacht rock single "Sailing":
"Sailing takes me away to where I've always heard it could be
Just a dream and the wind to carry me
And soon I will be free"

...in this case, from ever looking bad.

Thanks, mom!

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