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Front Porch: Dressing in style for the holidays

Sat., Dec. 10, 2011

The words, “It doesn’t take much,” slip through my mind as a glimpse of style passes by reminiscent of a time when a sense of fashion and pride in how one looked was protocol.

Sometimes it appears in the dim of evening or in the bright sunlight of an early morning when polished shoes, strands of hair tamed with a slick of gel and fine-toothed comb, a tailored suit, pressed shirt, bold tie, perhaps a pair of cuff links and freshly washed face crosses my path and I’m hooked like fish on an irresistible shiny lure.

Other times this sense of panache rounds a corner dressed in smart attractive skirt, jacket, silk blouse, pearl necklace; the sharp clip of a chic pair of pumps. Hair is coiffed, a touch of makeup, perhaps a jaunty hat and scarf with wool cape vibrates the fashion button and I think, with a twinge of melancholy mixed with excitement, that the classic styles haven’t been abandoned for fad or folly nor buried in yesteryear; it still exists.

It doesn’t take much money to create a sense of style; it does take imagination, a splash of pride, a dash of know-how. The end result, however, goes far beyond monetary pleasures for what’s most notable when fashionable elegance walks by is the unmistakable confidence and poise that follows every well-put-together outfit.

Those pooh-poohing my fashion aspirations obviously haven’t succumbed to the smart, crisp, clean, everything-perfectly-matches look of the “Pan Am” stewardesses and pilots on Sunday nights or the sophisticated garb worn by the cast of “Mad Men.” These images of yesterday’s fashions portray, sometimes painstakingly, how far we’ve come and perhaps fallen, where attire is concerned.

There was a time when hats and gloves, heels and dresses were everyday female apparel. A tasteful ensemble coupled with freshly scrubbed face and stylish hairdo commanded admiring glances and showed pride in appearance. This sway of fashion, however, wasn’t reserved only to women; men were dapperly dressed in sport coats, ties, hats, pressed shirts and polished shoes. “Here’s lookin’ at you, kid” was more than a come-on line.

It’s good to know the adage “clothes make the person” is practiced more than preached but I suspect that depends on the kind of “person” you want your clothes to “make.” Let’s face it, some of today’s fashion veers toward the outlandish particularly when people arrive for appointments, shop the mall or peruse the grocery stores in flannel jammy bottoms and slippers that are begging to be in front of a warm fireplace dousing the winter chill instead of on public display.

So, this is my wish, my holiday wish if you’d like, that my own sense of fashion and pride is, once again, brought to the forefront. Instead of the holiday savoir-faire that screams from every media outlet, fashion will be my focus because in these times of a tanked economy, what better present to give than the gift of style?

It takes more imagination than money to dig through closets and drawers to create a classy outfit that, in my book, includes the wonderful world of denim but not the comfy world of jammy bottoms.

This holiday and throughout 2012, I plan to show the world my determination and pride frocked in a urbane style that will make Meryl Streep in “The Devil Wears Prada” look gaudy. It’s time for some confidence building. Time to usher in the New Year with a bold, unique and classic fashion statement. Time to leave the jammies at home.

After all … here’s lookin’ at you, kid.

Voices correspondent Sandra Babcock can be reached by email at Previous columns are available at columnists/

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