Redondo Beach, CA
“I want people to see the dress but focus on the woman.” – Vera Wang
2018 was a year of growth, a year of lessons, a year of sisterhood, a year of transformation, a year of fantasy, a year of reality, a year of evolution, and a year of revolution. It was an interesting journey and I thought I’d sit down and reminisce for while.
Fashion is many things with creative self-expression at the top of the list. Just as a designer takes a shapeless piece of fabric and molds it into a creative vision, I believe in taking a dress and adding a healthy dose of imagination and moxie and breathing life and creativity into my own personal vision.
Just as life evolves, style evolves. Fashion is one thing, style is what we make of it. Style happens when we allow our individual personality to shine through fashion. As we come to the end of a year, I’m sharing some of my favorite looks with you – my top ten top plus one – bringing us to 11 favorite looks of 2018. The number one symbolizes connection – a universal connection – the connection of every individual to each other.
Fashion’s my medium. It’s not my message. Fashion allows me to connect with myself and with others. Fashion is a tool, a vehicle, a means of self-expression and a beautiful one at that! Playing dress-up doesn’t have to end because we grow up. Growing up means we have the ability to make our own rules. By Midlife, we’ve learned to dress for ourselves and not for others!
Four years ago, I would never have posed for a photographer, shared my thoughts and dreams, and believed I could be a Voice and a leader. Fashion helped me gain that courage!
Just as our personalities are complex, weaving multiple aspects of ourselves into one, the same applies to fashion. Expressing my style means expressing all parts of myself. As I get older and delve deeper within myself, new aspects reveal themselves and this translates through my photo shoots. I love taking a girly ball gown, reminiscent of Cinderella and intended for the junior prom, and combining it with a bit of moxie and badass.
Maxi dresses will always be a staple and favorite in my wardrobe. The beauty is they can be worn day or night and easily dressed up or down with a simple change of accessories. Ruffles and a sweet floral print set an ultra-feminine vibe while black lace brings with it both elegance and a hint of sexy. Fourth of July meant seeing stars with a whimsical denim look topped off by the perfect patriotic cowboy hat.
I absolutely love both the process of creation and juxtaposition. Wearing a satiny tulle ball gown and scaling the cliffs of Terrenea allowed for a combination of elegance and beauty along with the element of surprise. My intention was to create my version of a Vogue cover shoot – well, minus the production team, hair and makeup squad and runway fashion show budget. It was more like what can I do with $200 and a lot of attitude and determination?
The element of surprise took many forms this year, including this off-white boho maxi linen dress captured in the midst of an East Coast swamp. Driving through Plum Island, I happened to see the most gorgeous green rustic setting. Little did I know that it was a bug-infested swamp. I was also completely unprepared for a shoot – no hair, no makeup – but that didn’t matter. When you see a setting this fabulous, impulse takes over. The perfect twirl, the perfect wind, and the perfect setting come together for a fun and spontaneous capture.
Sequins remain a girl’s best friend and in this case, the more the merrier. A cherished memory this year were my photo shoots with the lovely, Jacqueline DePaul, the creative behind Yellow Brick Runway. Jacqueline could take a flour sack and make it look as though it belonged on the runway. Shooting with a professional model means being on the top of your game. It also means being able to laugh at yourself and be open to the experience of learning from a master, which I did!
Fierce is the new black, the new kind and the new cool for women at Midlife and Beyond. This year, black continued to play a big role and one of my favorite fashion finds was a pair of $49 vegan leather leggings that act as spandex and give the illusion of an instant 10 lb weight loss.
Faux fur, distressed denim, and a director’s chair made the perfect combination for a shoot in a gritty alleyway in downtown Hermosa Beach. Over the knee boots returned after a big showing last year. This was a trend that’s become a classic. Over the knee boots can instantly transform an article of clothing into a look. I love combining sexy with sweet – black suede and classic pink tweed.
The end of the year is a time of reflection. 2018 was a year of powerful highs and some of the lowest lows. Fashion has always been an antidote to the lows. Fashion allows me and many women to transform a time of sadness or darkness into light and positivity. Fashion is a medium. A medium for change. A medium for beauty. A medium for expression. Fashion has given me many gifts – the gift of freedom, the gift of confidence, the gift of beauty.
None of this would be possible without you sharing in my journey. Your comments lift and fuel me – they fill my heart and soul with passion and purpose. I am forever changed, forever fierce and forever grateful. Cheers beauties and Happy New Year!
Stunningly beautiful woman and fashion eye
Catherine Grace O'Connell