Becoming Iris

I know I know, we are well into November, moving full steam a head towards the wintery holidays and here I am posting about Halloween? Yes. A) because it is almost sixty degrees and crisp and sunny on this November morning and it feels like late September, and B) October 31st is just a date on the calendar and also my Halloween costume filled me with so much joy and empowerment that I really don’t care if I’m posting about it mid November. Lets just call it fashionably late.

I’ve always preferred the slightly obscure, cerebral and off beat Halloween costumes. This sometimes results in people having no idea who or what my costume is, but such is life. About nine years ago I was Eloise, and a few years later, in what I still maintain was my most creative costume idea, I went to a party as the Cake song Short Skirt/ Long Jacket. Literally no one at the party could even muster a guess as to what I was supposed to be. In hindsight I wish I had a shorter skirt and a longer jacket, but I spent hours making a fake machete with red tape on it, I painted my fingernails to say “justice” I was wearing a name tag with “Kitty” crossed out and “Karen” written underneath, I made buttons with the Comfort Eagle album cover, and I had pins that said “night owl” and “early bird” and not a single person got it.   I still think back to that costume and analyze what I could have done differently (and then I start to think about how productive and successful I would be if the part of my brain that is obsessing over the costume from seven years ago were put towards literally anything else.)

I’ve known since mid February of this year what my costume was going to be. This makes it sound like I’m one of those people who is super into Halloween… I’m not. I was on vacation in Palm Spring (my happy place) and was sitting poolside wearing the most ridiculous pair of sparkly pineapple shaped sun-glasses and I just knew “For Halloween I’m going as Iris”

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Flash forward to July and I was browsing one of my favorite independent bookstores in Ashland Oregon. I saw “Iris Apfel: Accidental Icon” on the shelf and was reminded “oh yeah! I’m still doing that.”

For those of you who might not know who Iris Apfel is, I highly recommend you stop reading this post immediately (ok, maybe after you finish reading) and go stream Iris . She is the most incredible 97-year-old woman, with the most over the top fashion you can even imagine. The love story she had with her husband Carl is everything I could ever want in a relationship. This article in Town & Country outlines their lives together traveling, starting a textile company, decorating, and dressing.   She is everything I want to be when I grow up and more. (Ok… she might be a Trump supporter but everyone is entitled to his or her own political opinions and views) Her overall message has always been to dress in a way that makes you feel your best, and also feels interesting and unique to you. What’s the fun in dressing like everybody else?

Well, for Halloween I DID have a lot of fun making my transformation into Iris. I’ve always embraced bright colors and bold jewelry, (remember Palm Springs is my happy place) so it was easy to put together her signature layered and over the top look with jewelry from my own collection. I did thrift a few pieces of costume jewelry to accent my overall look, and a yard of fuzzy red fabric turned into a makeshift shawl, her signature round glasses and a grey wig completed the look.

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I’ve never had more fun getting dressed in my entire life. And that is what I loved so much about this costume. All the rules of what matches, what “should” go together, and how people were going to perceive me went out the window. It wasn’t about how the pieces looked together, it was about how much joy each layer added to the outfit. It wasn’t about what was in fashion, or what was chic or name brand, it was about curating individual pieces into an ensemble in a way that was totally unique me. (imitating her)

And the sheer joy I had putting this look together has impacted the way I get dressed every day. I don’t think you’ll be seeing me in giant glasses an 7 necklaces around McMinnville again anytime soon, but you won’t see me shying away from color, patterns, bold lips, statement pieces, and outrageous leggings either. I’ve always had the courage to dress a little differently and embrace my own fashion aesthetic, but I feel like my transformation into Iris helped to strengthen my charisma. Getting dressed in the morning has shifted from “how does this look” to “how does this make me feel?”

In the words of Iris “When the fun goes out of dressing, you might as well be dead. You need to pursue your own fancy.”

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