My personal fashion icons

    There are fashion icons, and there are fashion icons. Typical fashion icons of the Sixties were Audrey Hepburn and Jacqueline Kennedy. The Seventies brought Mary Quant and Twiggy, and even Madonna in the Eighties had her moments.

    For me, however, I had my own personal fashion icons. First, I must say that I have never been too fashion conscious or trendy.  Growing up, I was usually a year behind everyone else when it came to new styles. I have had my share of little black dresses, and even now I have several of them, all a bit different, in my closet, but I digress.

    I went through the Dress for Success stage when I first got out of school, or as close to that as is possible when the corporate dress code for pharmacists is white lab coats. But for other events I found that my persona fashion icon was Suzanne Paquette Valle. She also happens to be a pharmacist, and she is one of the savviest dressers that I have ever met. From the time I first met her, she has been my mentor in the looking-good-in-clothes department.

    She didn’t grow up with money; in fact, I suspect that money may have been tight in the Paquette family. Because of this, or maybe despite this, she really knows how to pull an outfit together. From head to toe, any outfit she wears is complete with shoes and accessories. Further, she will shop until she has just the right look (and always looks good in the process). It doesn’t matter what she is wearing. Whether a t-shirt and jeans, a skirt and sweater, or a dress, she looks great.

    Because of her attention to detail in the fashion department, I consider myself fortunate to have gone shopping with her a few times. She is very particular about clothing, and frankly, never allowed me to buy anything that didn’t make me look fabulous. I might be okay with it, but she’d be adamant that the clothing wasn’t quite right in some way and would dissuade me from purchasing it. The clothing she chose for me was not always designer label fashions (although she introduced me to a few labels like Chaus that always seemed to fit me well). Sometimes the items were fairly inexpensive, but I knew when I was wearing an outfit (including appropriate accessories) that she had helped me pick out, I looked fgood. Because of this, whenever I had an event for which I wanted a special outfit, I’d ask for her help, and off we’d go to the mall. Many hours (and stores) later, I’d know that I would look fantastic when the time came.

    Lest it be thought that I am her only fashion project, her best friend Susan (another pharmacist, but I digress) confessed to me once that Suzanne was her go-to person whenever she needed an outfit for a special (or not-so-special) event. Susan had shopped enough with Suzanne to know that she would always get great advice.

    Unfortunately, we now live 180 miles apart, or I would still be relying on her fashion sense. Alas…


    Another fashion icon of mine was my friend Edna Cornelius. I met Edna when I first married Rob. Edna was ninety at the time, but in the few short years until her death at ninety-seven, she taught me a few things about fashion. Edna was a self-taught watercolor artist who understood color, but most of all, she understood that a woman wasn’t put together unless she wore earrings. She was always impeccably dressed…suit, shoes, hat, and of course, earrings. She told me I needed to start wearing earrings and to make sure I did, she gave me several pairs. By the way, she didn’t have pierced ears so she wore clip-on earrings. I found out quickly that clip-ons pinch terribly and are extremely uncomfortably to wear. So much so, that eventually I got my ears pierced, thanks in part to Edna and Rob (he started buying me clip-on earrings, too).

    She told a gathering once when asked, “How do you look so well turned out all the time?”

    Her response: “Catalogs…I buy through catalogs, I don’t have the energy to shop any more. They deliver to your house; you return what doesn’t fit.”

    She often wore a Greek fisherman’s cap; winking, she said that it gave her a jaunty look that especially attracted men. Standing all of five foot, she was larger than life, teaching everyone in the church how to grow old gracefully. Through Edna, I have learned that earrings do make a difference. I can only hope that as I age, I will grown up to be exactly like she was. Perhaps, I need to start looking for a jaunty cap now.

    No, these women may never be considered famous, but they have certainly made me into a more well-turned out person, giving me some tools to become a fashionista in my own right. Whether I ever will, well, probably not even with my husband’s short career as one of Victoria’s Secret’s fashion consultants.



About pedometergeek

A pharmacist by profession, a haiku poet by nature, I read and write. I have a book of haiku, Ohayo Haiku, and another somewhat alternative haiku book, Three Breaths, but write other genres. I also read...lots of novels! My favorite is, and remains, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged but I am also a big Harry Potter fan. I truly am a pedometer geek strapping on my pedometer as soon as I awaken.
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