In the 1990s, Madonna told us to ‘strike a pose’ in Vogue, the popular song that referenced numerous Hollywood stars and associated them with a ‘look’. ‘Rita Hayworth’, warbled Madonna, “gave good face”, and you could find ‘James Dean on the cover of a magazine’. Madonna implied that our pose, or how we hold ourselves, is the way we are remembered.
A pose, or ‘look’, is distinguishable even when a celebrity has long faded from public view. For example, Boy George was a huge star in the mid 1980s before he plunged into a life of drug abuse and tying up young escorts (for which he was eventually arrested). His look was distinctive: hats, hair extensions, makeup and oversized dresses.
When I was in New York during a 1990s winter, I wore overalls, an overcoat and a black hat. “Yo George!” people would say on the street, in stores and on the subway. I could have taken offence (considering I’m female and Boy George was a cross-dressing gay guy who sang bad songs), but I knew it was about being associated with his ‘look’ rather than being mistaken for a transexual (at least I hope it was).
Similarly, architecture and art has a look. Eras such as the Elizabethan, Gothic, Victorian and Baroque conjure up distinctive artists, artworks and buildings. We also associate certain decades with particular fashions– the 1920s were about flappers and excess; the 1940s focused on beautiful women’s suits, hats and gloves; the 1960s dabbled in paisley and miniskirts and the 1980s revelled in big hair and shoulder pads.
Yet, quite often a “look” has little substance and it quickly disappears. Remember Paris Hilton anyone? Her rise to fame may have been spectacular, but her descent has been equally swift.
Our look is about personal style, demeanour and perception.
Has your look evolved into something different from that of your 20s and 30s? Can your style be described as casual, formal, expensive, thrifty or eclectic?
Luckily, midlife offers a respite from caring what people think.
What pose are you striking these days?