Every woman has an internal sweater clock that goes off just about now every time the weather gets a bit chilly.
You know the feeling: it’s a sudden urge for cuddly fabrics, cardigans, turtlenecks and cashmere. Tee shirts relegated to the storage drawers, and the ceremonial closet transfer of Summer to Fall begins.
For women, I think the ritual Fall shopping began when we were young girls doing the annual “school shopping” with our Moms. New jumpers, sweaters and plaid kilt skirts filled our closets, (yes, I know I’m dating myself). Then later as teens, new bell bottom jeans, and plaid shirts.
When I finally grew up it was the Coat hunt. Camel Hair belted wrap or a classic Black button-down wool. Perhaps its roots are a survival instinct for warmth hidden deep in our primitive selves or simply boredom with summer frocks, but the urge is real!
In my many years having owned a ladies’ boutique, Fall was always my favorite season to buy and receive into the shop. Ordering everything in the bursting of Spring was always an odd reframing of color and fabric, but when it arrived it was always on cue.
When I first opened shop some 19 years ago my goal was to curate beautiful items for women to take delight in and it was a wonderful feeling to have my choices appreciated. But what evolved was a deeper, more important mission; to help women of all sizes, shapes and ages be the beautiful thing.
Of the many thousands of women I have served, one thread ran clearly through all of our desires, the longing to look pretty…
Sadly, the track that often ran alongside this was of self judgement regardless of fitness or size; the size 2 often asking if her bum looked big or the size 12 surprised when an outfit flattered and gave confidence. All the images we are fed about beauty from Disney Princesses to Movie Stars created an impossible ideal to live up to, and its influence upon us made accepting ourselves as is, nearly impossible.
I was both stylist and therapist and did it lovingly because I too battled those demons and understood that looking beautiful was about feeling beautiful.
We learned together that the key to being our most radiant selves was not being thin or having hips straight as boys, it was about wearing ourselves well.
And yes, I do appreciate the fact that this point of view is from my cultural and racial reality, but I also figure all women have self judgement because we are always trying to be everything to everyone!
Having had the honor of being like a best friend to so many women over the years, gently coaxing them and myself to appreciate all our curves, or lack of, are the parts I cherish and miss most about my years owning Tiger Lily.
Telling women they looked beautiful sometimes brought tears to their eyes because nobody was telling them that at home, or saying it was ok to wear that low vs. neck cut because it was fine to show “the girls” off was often like coming out of hiding. I knew I had done my job well when a woman at her wits end found something that made her want to twirl like a girl in the mirror or lift herself up like a movie star in all her glory ready for the world.
The heart of the matter is that women are amazing, beautiful and strong. And we can be all those things and more when we dig deep and truly embrace ourselves. It’s a journey for sure, and I will be walking the path for all my days, listening for the most real me I can find. And I will likely be wearing something that comforts and makes me feel “classic with a twist”, because that’s who I am.