Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Go-to-Gay: Take your "fashion" and make it happen

After an extended break, our Go-to-Gays are back and ready to take on our theme months this year. Today, Gary is talking about fashion, style, and beauty, and he has a lot of wonderful and inspiring things to say!

For those of you who are new here, Gary is on the left and Wade is on the right in this photo. Wade has a novel coming out this spring, written as Viola Shipman, called The Charm Bracelet.


Jordache, Polo, Calvin Klein, Osh Kosh, and Ocean Pacific defined an era and also defined me. As teenagers we seek what we think is independence but really we are all followers: Wanting the perfect shirt or jeans to fit in, to be cool and fashionable. Like most teens I was insecure and hoped these labels would make me cool. They had nothing to do with me, the person. It was not until my senior year when I went to see the movie Flashdance, I thought how cool and independent the dancers were. So I took a fashion risk! Trying to define my independence and inspired by a steel town girl, I cut the neck out of my sweat shirt and turned the cut off portion of the shirt into a head band. Off I went to school with my Jennifer Beals inspired sweatshirt & matching headband. My friend Laura with her super cool jelly shoes and Jane with her Devo-inspired outfit both thought it was a hit. Turned out that a guy wearing a Flashdance-inspired outfit was not such a great idea in Southern Illinois. It did not stop me, though. I continued to be inspired by music and movies including Footloose and The Breakfast Club. Jean jackets with tons of buttons, military cargo pants and an orange sweat shirt for a splash of color. I would wear corduroy jackets with a t-shirt, pinch rolled Levis, no socks and deck shoes. Anything different than the basics was fun for me. I think that was when I learned that fashion was not to follow or about how much things cost or even the label. Fashion was a way to express yourself and your personality.

Wearing my Flashdance shirt

As I grew up I continued to make several interesting fashion risks from Z. Cavaricci to MC Hammer gold “Can’t touch this” parachute pants. Clothes were about feeling good and also about fun. Sure with age we learn what looks better on us. Having your own style is who you are and defines your look. Your style captures an essence of who you are, your unique look. It is more what you reflect, how you carry yourself with grace.

So for me fashion is about having fun, creating your style, your drag, your look. It has nothing to do with money. I can find things on clearance and pair them with another items and create a fun outfit. I think Carrie in Sex and the City helped so many people learn to mix and match clothes and to have fun with them. So fashion is fashion but finding your own style and having fun with it is the trick. Being confident in who you are as a person and bringing your personality to life is the key. Our body is a shell and or unique style is just the way we choose to decorate it.

When I was in my early 30s, I had the honor of meeting a wonderful women named Lynn. She ran a party store and was also a floral designer. I worked a 2nd job part time on evenings and weekends and she was my employer. I helped her arrange flowers and set up wedding receptions. She was one of the funniest, graceful people I had ever met. She quickly became a dear friend and invited me into her family. Lynn always carried herself with such grace and was so kind to everyone. She was always one of the most put together people I had ever met. Not too fussy or overdone, just put together, classy and sassy. One afternoon I was helping her set up a wedding reception. It was one of those 90 degree, 90% humidity St Louis summer days. We ran around like crazy people setting everything up. We held off on bringing the flowers out until the last minute. Lynn was also a guest at this particular reception. Tired, sweaty and hair flying everywhere, I watched what I can only call a miracle. Lynn grabbed a tote bag and asked me to finish a few last minute details while she freshened up. 10 minutes later she popped the bathroom door open to chat about the candles on the tables. I watched with amazement. She was changed, added peals, ran a brush through her hair and a fresh dab of lipstick. I said, “You look amazing! How did you do it?” She told me, “Honey, only you and I know what we just went through. It is time to shine and people will see what they want to see.” I will never forget that advice. Fashion is a look, but style & grace are how you carry yourself and how you treat others. I remember this anytime I’m feeling bad or insecure. I remember that when I add a smile, people see more than what I have on.

Fashion and style are never grace and beauty. That comes from the soul, the quality of person you are. How and what you see in the world. Beauty is all around us from nature, creatures to our follow man. It’s how we see things when we open our eyes.

A true definition of beauty for me was something I witnessed on our drive to California this year. We stopped at a scenic overlook. I got out to take a photo of this beautiful mountain range. I turned to see an elderly women in a wheelchair looking out at the same view I was. Her expression of “I made it” overwhelmed me. She was more beautiful to me than the mountains. She was beauty and grace and I know had a very interesting life story. She I’m sure had a life of fun and also her own fashion mishaps. But, her eyes showed contentment and peace.

I think that is what we all strive for is being content. So have fun with fashion and find your unique style so you can look back laugh and say “I did that, wasn’t that fun!” Also know at the end of your life when you pass on none of it will matter. That is unless you meet Joan Rivers in heaven and her first question might very well be ‘What are you wearing?”

Gary Edwards is the marketing and events manager for bestselling author Wade Rouse. Edwards arranges Rouse’s tour schedule, speaking engagements as well as coordinates and facilitates his writing workshops and retreats.  Additionally, Edwards has helped market and promote all five of Rouse’s books. Edwards also has a background in hospitality, and sales as well as design.   With his vast professional background and a love to listen and help friends he is a perfect storm of love and nurture. Edwards is Martha Stewart meets Dear Abby with a dash of Mrs. Doubtfire.  For more, please friend him on Facebook and Twitter.


Janine said...

This is my favorite blog post that I have read in a long time. I love fashion and hearing about how other people come about with their looks is always fascinating to me. I went through many changes in my life trying to fit in. Now I just do what I like even if that means wearing bright flowered Lilly Pulitzer in the winter to brighten a dull dark day, I will do it.

Heather Fox said...

Love this so much!! It's so true! Fashion is a state of mind. It's really such a fun tool in our toolbox of personal expression...I love what you said about Lynn. She taught me how to "put it on the road and sell it!" Of course, she didn't mean my body-she meant my ATTITUDE! I could have a hum drum outfit on but if I put my shoulders up, chest out, chin up...honey, look out!! I am totally channeling her tonight. She is with us Gary! She loves your blog. I guarantee it!