Sources of sartorial inspiration.
It’s my birthday today.
The last time I’d written something on the blog on my birthday was three years ago, in 2016. When I was talking about the wearability of animal prints and how we should all embrace its highly visual power with open arms. What a tizzy the past few years have been, to say the least, but we’re not focusing on that today. No, my friend, today, in honour of my birthday, I’m going to talk about the one person who has played such a vital part in not only igniting my love for clothes but who has also wielded such influence over how I look at style and fashion.
I’ll readily (and ever so happily) admit that I’ve had a ginormous fashion crush on Denise Huxtable since the sitcom I’d rather not name first aired in 1984. The second eldest child who was free-spirited and rebellious with an eccentric sense of style which, I feel, can be best defined as wholly committed. Whether dressed in a power suit or in mechanic overalls or draped in pearls to the floor, she never doesn’t lean all the way in. The best kind of chameleon.
I mean, there are only certain people who can work a certain sense of style.
Not everyone can rock a head wrap, an unexpected hat, patterns on patterns on patterns, African-inspired accessories, a tulle skirt, the list goes on. It may look amazing on one person, and on another, you wonder if they looked in the mirror before leaving the house. Denise Huxtable, however, has proven that no matter how outrageous her outfit or hairstyle may be, she still looks good. How that’s possible, I’m not sure, but it is.
I would watch the show religiously and sketch down her outfits and try and copy her hair (still not sure if I should share that one photo). I remember hunting down an oversized tee, tied a knot to the side (more so to prevent myself from tripping than creating a style statement, if I’m being completely truthful) and wore it as a long tank dress (aka a jersey maxi these days, talk about precursors), over which draped a bunch of white plastic pearls around my neck that hung down to my knees., I thought I was the business, y’all.
The layering and the maximalism and the general refusal to toe the sartorial line aside, if you pay close enough attention, there’s a through-line of unbridled creativity. An incredible attention to how eloquently we can speak through what we wear, a tool (I firmly believe) beautifully perfected by the late Princess Di (perhaps the most articulate of us all when it comes to speaking the language of fashion).
And that’s how I approach clothing and fashion in general.
Often with the preface of, “What else can I create with this?”
And always with, “How far can I push this?“.
Therefore, you can imagine where my mind instantly went to when Jennie announced that our theme for May would be Style Icons. I was THRILLED. I knew immediately that I wanted to really identify the muses behind my aesthetics. I mean, we all know I worship Gwen Stefani but did you know that both David Bowie as well as Prince have prominent seats upon my tabernacle of style? These three influence the way I dress to such a large extent BUT distilling it even further, I knew without a doubt that Denise Huxtable was it. My very first (and strongest) style icon. And to this day, I continue to have very clear references and odes to the way Lisa Bonet styled the character throughout all those seasons.
And so, without further ado, my photos and my style icon since I was 11 years old.
And those of my fellow fabulous friends.
Jennie, A Pocketful Of Polka Dots
I wasn’t surprised at all when Jennie picked Audrey Hepburn as her style icon. That timeless vibe. A slight touch of tomboyish charm. Elegant but still (always) playful and graceful. An LBD was the perfect choice especially with those adorable floral court shoes, the iconic pearls, oversized sunnies and, ooh lordy, that bubblegum. Well done, Jennie, well done.
Suzy, Suzy Turner
I intentionally positioned Jennie and Suzy’s outfits sequentially to demonstrate how two amazing women came up with such different looks based off of one same style icon. While veering more towards the casual Riviera feel, Suzy’s top + pants garment exudes sophistication, ease, and infinite charm. I think she’s beautifully captured that gamine mood.
Shelbee, Shelbee On The Edge
No hollaback girl is my girl Shelbee!!! She walks the walk and talks the talk, on just about every topic under the sky, and where fashion is concerned, is as maverick as they come. Resplendent boho garbs one day, dominatrix full tilt the next, complete with hosiery and whip (ok, so the whip hasn’t made an appearance on her blog, yet). Today, she’s going glam rock n roll punk without batting an eyelid and doing it SO DAMN WELL.
Daenel, Living Outside The Stacks
I feel as though I should’ve seen it coming. That Daenel would channel Nicole Richie because it’s PERFECT for her. That easy, breezy laidback yet polished approach to layering. Pairing the slightly oversized with the form-fittting. The earthy tones. The headwraps. Such a beautiful palette made even more striking with the rich texture of her kimono. I adore how her jeans infuse a fresh, wearable everyday element.
Now join me in welcoming (and thanking) Sherry, our guest blogger for this month. I know her best for the amazing outfits she creates by era. There is such thought and research which goes into everything she’s shared on her blog, such beautifully curated looks that leave me in awe. I am ever so happy to have her here, joining us this month, for my turn, and the fact that she chose Cyndi Lauper as her style icon is perfect testimony to how we must all view fashion as something to have fun with and to play dress up in and to take over the world.
Sherry, Petite Over 40
And then there’s me.
A grownup version of Denise. With heels (has anyone ever seen her wear heels on the show, by the way?). And tattoos (although she got hers later in life).
Viva la Denise.
Tuxedo Stripe Blazer & Grey Beret (Agaci) | Plaid Canvas Joggers (Forever 21) | Bowie Concert Tee Shirt (thrifted) | Yellow Leather Cuff (Unearthed) | White Hospital ID Cuff (Jean Paul Gaultier) | Starburst Ring (Kate Spade) | Heels (JustFAB)
Please tell me, who’s YOUR style icon?
Or do you have several?
Have these changed to reflect the different stages in your life?
Until next time friends, have a good one.
p/s I link up here.
Oh fabulous! I loved her style even better as Lisa Bonet herself! So cool. And so are you of course! And I can’t wait for the whip with Shelbee to appear! 😅😅
🙂 Great! 🙂
I think you rock the Denise Huxtable look better than she did, Sheela! I mean, those pants, those shoes, the hat! You look absolutely amazing. I just love how she, and others, inspired you so much as a youngster. As always, you’re the inspiration to me ❤
Forgot to say, HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!
❤ ❤ ❤
I could just picture you with your long tee and necklace bopping around with dreams of being Denise Huxtable lifting you up a little higher. This adult version you’ve curated–it is the perfect tribute to someone who inspired you so well. Whereas it took me some time to sort through who I wanted to represent, you knew because she’s been with you all along.
Happy Birthday and thanks for including me on this Fab 40s ride.
As I read through your post, I found myself continually saying, “Me, too, Sheela, me, too!” I identify with all of what you say. Oh, Sweet Denise! I tried to copy so many outfits of hers! Remember when she tried to make the shirt for Theo? That was kind of how my creations ended up, but I would wear them anyway! The oversized mens’ blazers…I would steal my grandfather’s and wear them like it was no big thing! I do think we need to create a line of our own and called it “Sheela Michelle” or “SheeShelbee”! Haha. It is has a ring to it. Anyway, brilliant outfit as always…perfectly Sheela and Denise H. would be ever so proud. And your words about lil ole me brought tears to my eyes. I adore you! Thank you so much for that. And I am up next for June! I have something fun and powerful up my sleeve for this one. Stay tuned!
You all look fabulous! Love the theme
Sassy and stylish, the shoes, the trousers oh everything I like. I would love to have the confidence to wear similar styles. Thanks for sharing, i might just try and give it a go. Jacqui Mummabstylish
Do join the #chicandstylish #linkup as you are definitely both!!! xx
This was nice!! Loved the post. And you all have done such a fab job. My style icon is Victoria Beckham. Alas, I am not as minimalistic as she is. One can aspire, right?
And happy birthday dear. Saw you insta photos as well. Glad to hear you are in such a good place.
I think my fashion icon would have to be Johnny Depp. …Why? 🙂
His calling card, it is individualism. His early film roles — in Cry Baby, Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands, Ed Wood, What’s Eating Gilbert Grape, Benny & Joon, and Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas — saw him playing characters with depth that broke the typical Hollywood mold. These elements of his persona may be simple — non-scripted boots, hats, rolled-sleeves, a wrist full of bracelets, and tattoos — but that simplicity is deceptive. His clothes are far more complex because they seem to be a part of Depp, not simply accessories. I take such inspiration from that level of individualism, As you know, my love… I am always trying to put a fresh spin on something I’ve put together, look-wise.