Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Feminine Mystique

So I've been shopping for college (still, I know), and one of the things that's been on my 'to buy' list forever is a pair of ballet flats. Since the only pairs of shoes I owned were 2 pairs of Uggs and about 6 pairs of sandals, I wanted a nice little pair of closed toe flats. But I kept putting it off and putting it off and I still don't have a pair of ballet flats. Which got me to thinking, really, what's the point? Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ballet flats and if someone handed me a pair of J. Crew's version I'd gladly take them. But to be honest, I don't think I'll ever really wear them much because I'm just not that feminine. In the stereotypical sense, at least. I'd take a menswear button-down and jeans over a frilly sundress any day. And that led to the question (I'm getting to the point, I promise), what is feminine? When I think of it, the first thing that pops into my head is pink and lace and sparkles and flowers and all sorts of girly, non-threatening stuff like that.

Jill Stuart Iris Dress, $598 at, Maloles Cornelia Bow Back Flats, $170 down from $340 at, Deepa Gurnani Crystal Bead Headband, $36 at We've got a white, lace accented dress, ballet flats with bows, and a crystal headband. It doesn't get girlier than that.

But wearing that wouldn't make me feel feminine at all. It would make me feel like a little girl playing dress up, not a (technically) adult woman. So that obviously isn't feminine, in my self at least. What I think a feminine outfit is an ensemble that makes you feel like a strong, confident woman, not like a precious little girl. It's sexy, but not skanky, it's bold, but refined, and it's chic, but modern. You need to take your own personal style, and then put that twist on it. Since my style is a little edgy/androgynous, I'd put together something like this:

Alexander Wang Fitted Combo Dress, $750 at, Diane von Furstenberg Hayworth Clutch, $450 at, Christian Louboutin Platform Pumps, $930 at A LBD is definitely a classic, feminine staple. What makes this one more edgy and grown-up is the black tulle ruching over the nude body. It has the effect of sheer panelling without actually being sheer, so it's sexy without being too revealing, and the diagonal stripes that the ruching makes add a ton of visual interest. Now, when I think feminine I think strong, and nothing says strong to me like studs. I know studs and femininity don't really go together, but the chic grey on black color palette of this clutch and the nailhead size of the studs make a polished, if edgy statement with none of the in-your-face attitude you'd expect from a heavily studded piece. Pastels are always associated with girliness, so a pastel hued shoe is fitting, but when you spice them up with a red sole and a chain mail detail on the toe, they become all grown up. These are definitely girly shoes, but they're girly with an attitude, and that's the kind of feminine I'd rather be.

I'm going to sound so cliche right now, but I think being feminine, all stereotypical associations aside, is wearing what makes you feel self-confident and empowered. If you feel good about how you look and you feel comfortable in your own skin, then you're being feminine in the best sense of the word because you're being true to yourself as a woman. I'm going to go Dr. Laura another captive audience now.

Image Sources:
Jill Stuart dress:, Maloles flats:, Deepa Gurnani headband:, Alexander Wang dress:, DVF clutch:, Christian Louboutin pumps:

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