While putting the final touches on my style program, Dress Your Shape, I’ve been reflecting on my own style journey going back to my childhood. One of the most significant relationships of my youth was with my maternal grandmother, Halina, the same one who taught me about elegance, confidence and the power of style.
“In her understated elegant way, my grandmother taught me the power of style and to dress with intention and heart.”
Babcia, my Polish grandmother, lived two floors below where I lived with my parents. But as I’d frequent her house for a “cup of coffee” at the age of three, I was tired of the long commute that consisted of four flights of stairs and decided to move in. My grandfather died when I was two, so it was just my grandmother and me that would go for walks in the park, cook, and have tea parties; we had a very special bond.
My grandmother taught me to always look presentable out of respect to others and myself; her outfits were always neatly pulled together – into effortless style.
Fashion and style was not vain to her. It was an act of self expression, art, personal style and celebration of confidence.
A dress, she said, was one of the easiest and most feminine pieces that is both forgiving and flattering. My grandmother was petite and had an apple shape; with a tailored A-line dress and belt, she looked like an elegant queen.
Even when going to run basic errands, she’d wear lipstick and beautiful rings.
“The way they see you is how they’ll treat you. And the way you see yourself is how you’ll believe in yourself,” is what she’d often say.
She was a strong woman and very hardworking. Whatever had to be done, she’d pull up her pretty little sleeves and get to work. She helped raise my brothers and me and when we moved, she moved with us. She cared very much for our education but also about being a good person.
When I reached the age to drive, I’d take her to her doctor visits and it always blew me away that she’d put on her best dress, lipstick, beautiful rings and always bring with her a box of chocolates for the doctor. Not to my surprise she’d get the best treatments.
When she passed, I inherited all her beautiful dresses made of gorgeous fabrics including silk and cotton.
Of course, I put my own touch on every piece including the highest heel I could find and an ADA wrap belt. Tailored in a cinche.
From left to right- me, my mother, grandmother and mother-in-law
My grandmother was someone for whom everything was intentional; she really treasured all of the things she purchased, had designed, made and wore. In her graceful and understated way, she led by example and taught me to do things with intention and heart.