Wardrobe by Mother Nature

For the past few nights, a huge frog has been hanging out on the sliding glass doors leading to our back deck.  From our viewpoint inside the brightly-lit living room, he looks like an otherworldly, frog-shaped apparition hanging there.  I’m pretty sure it’s the lights that attract him, or rather, the lights attract the bugs which, in turn, attract him.  We know this, because we have a front-row view of him catching those bugs.

It is the most awesome thing ever.

Of course, I also say it’s the  most awesome thing ever when the hummingbirds return to our feeder every year, or when the flowering trees start blooming again, or when we hear the Barred Owls night after night outside the house all summer long.  (Sometimes, they are so close that their calls sound like dangerous, raspy gargles rather than eerie, distant,  hoo-hoo-hoo-HOOs).

And when the bear walked right up our driveway, it was definitely the most awesome thing ever, even though I wasn’t here to see it and can only rely on secondhand reports.

In other words, I haven’t lost my ability to be enchanted by the natural world.  I’m less enchanted by spiders and wasps, hollering for Mr. Frump like a helpless little girl, casting aside decades of feminist conditioning faster than you can say “glass ceiling.”  But that’s another story.   When it comes to nature, if it can’t sting me or crawl on me in my sleep, and if I can enjoy it while also still enjoying a daily hot shower and indoor plumbing, I’m a big, big fan.

A nature scene from the neighborhood

As I’ve been cleaning out closets and preparing to shop for summer clothes, I’ve come to realize just how much my choices are influenced by the natural world.  Sure, there’s the obvious seasonal aspect of style — casting off winter layers to embrace summery fabrics and colors.  But until recently, I never realized just how much of what I love, style-wise, echoes the patterns and forms found in nature.

Here are a few examples.

Tropical Prints

For the longest time, I picked up every leafy, tropical-print item that I could find.  I still remember my first one, purchased back in 1986, when “Hawaiian shirts” were still a joke.  I loved it and wore it to death.  Ever since, there’s always been at least one tropical print item in my wardrobe.  At the moment, though, the one pictured above is my very last one.  I’ve done some ruthless wardrobe editing recently, realizing that I’ve unwisely purchased many ill-fitting items just because I loved the prints that much.  However, given the current trend toward bright colors and patterns, I think I’ll be able to replenish my stock pretty easily!

Animal Prints

Once the “cougar” jokes started, I began to be a little paranoid about wearing these.  It’s so easy to go overboard into the land of “too much.”  Plus, I think the market got saturated with them just a bit, and there were some pretty tacky looking, poorly made ones out there.  But as you can see, I’ve still managed to amass quite a collection.  (And I didn’t even include my beloved leopard print gloves!)  When I go shopping, I gravitate toward these suckers as if they’re magnetized.  Voom!  Within seconds, I’ve found them.  And I’m pretty sure I always will.

Miscellaneous Organic Prints

Even when I’m not wearing a tropical or animal print, there’s a good chance that I’m wearing a print that still evokes nature in some way.  While thinking about this post, I took a look in my closet and was genuinely surprised to see that I don’t have a single pattern that could be described as geometric.  Instead, they are all swirly and soft — not quite leafy, not quite floral, but evocative of both.  Here’s what I mean:

This was a fairly eye-opening experience to me — especially since I’ve always maintained that I hate florals.  Uh, no, not exactly.  I just like leafy,  flowy, borderline abstract florals rather than stuffy, prissy florals.  But mostly, I love leafy and grassy shapes, it appears.  In case we needed any further proof, allow me to present today’s two new purchases from Macy’s.  (Yes, I used coupons!)

(Please forgive the freakish perspective of the second image.  More adventures in self-photography without a tripod.  But you get the idea!)

Accessories: Straw and Woven Materials

Yes, I’ve heard all the jokes about hippies and basket weaving.   Well, throw me onto the hippie bus, then, because I love this stuff.  That’s why even my leather belts look like straw belts.  That’s why I carry that huge faux straw tote bag in the summertime even though it attracts bees (I’m not joking!).  That’s why I hang on to those glorious shoes even though I’ve only been brave enough to wear them outside once.  (They were surprisingly comfy and walkable, but I’m still too nervous to walk around in backless shoes with a heel like that).  That’s why, if I could have a house filled entirely with wicker furniture, I would.

Accessories:  The Birds and the Bees

On more than one occasion, I have been charmed out of my hard-earned money by jewelry depicting wildlife.  Exhibit A:

the turtle necklace purchased in Hawaii, and Exhibit B:

an assortment of bird and butterfly pins.

I have to admit that I very rarely wear any of these, because once I’ve put them on, they seem a little too childish or unsophisticated.  (Actually, I did recently start wearing the Southwestern Road Runner pin, because it’s just abstract/geometric enough for me to feel comfortable with it).  But I adore them all, and won’t get rid of them even if they’re never worn.

Accessories:  Natural Materials

Just as a walk through my closet was informative, so was a look at the jewelry collection.  I knew I loved beads, but again:  I was surprised by just how much of what I own is made of natural materials.  Or made to look like it’s made from natural materials.  Or made with patterns suggesting elements of nature.  Here are some examples:

So there you have it.  Despite my fear of spiders, I seem to be a Nature Chick.

Now it’s audience participation time.   Do you echo the natural world in your wardrobe?  If so, how?  If not, what personal passions are reflected in your style?


About Anne @ The Frump Factor

Reflections on beauty and style, for women who weren't born yesterday. Bring your sense of humor and "Fight the Frump" with me!
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16 Responses to Wardrobe by Mother Nature

  1. Paula says:

    I stay away from bug jewelry. And like you, not too many animal prints. I was wondering the other day, how much neon there is in nature–there is some–I love neon. I go for the brighter colors of flowers–but not necessarily the natural depiction of them.
    Great post, Anne!

  2. Loved this post Anne!! I deal with frogs, owls and bugs….but no bears!! I think you made a great observation about why you are drawn to the prints you are. I see those bags everywhere…so they are still very much in style…you might go out on a limb (couldn’t resist the pun) and buy one geometric print just to deepen your wardrobe and see what you think….at least try one on next time you go shopping! Your neighborhood shot is beautiful!!

  3. BigD says:

    I’m a hummingbird lover, too.
    My “natural” touches in my wardrobe include several animal prints (2 cardigans, a blouse and a couple scarves) and a pair of snake skin cowboy boots that are the most comfiest things ever.
    I have a straw purse for summer. It’s little and has a bamboo-looking double handle, and makes me look like an old lady when I carry it at my elbow at the grocery store. It’s never drawn insects, though.
    I have a couple of straw hats, with small flowers gracing the crown, that I pull out in summer. I only rarely wear them in public–too much humiliation for my kids if we are someplace where people recognize us. Mostly, they are for vacation, so I can pretend to be so genteel and resort-ish when I’m sight-seeing.

  4. BigD says:

    Oh! And I have to say I like diamonds and sapphires and gold a lot, too.
    That’s natural, right?

  5. MaggieT says:

    Great post–and a great photo of you. Stylin’ while enjoying nature! Those blouses are really pretty. All would look great with that sexy denim skirt. Btw, I got a rut-busting, animal-print handbag (with straw detailing!) for Mother’s Day. I’m dying to show it to you.

  6. martinalynne says:

    “In other words, I haven’t lost my ability to be enchanted by the natural world.” Beautiful, madam. Just beautiful. Being enchanted is the greatest gift to give ourselves, you know?

  7. Terri says:

    This line is hilarious: I’m less enchanted by spiders and wasps, hollering for Mr. Frump like a helpless little girl, casting aside decades of feminist conditioning faster than you can say “glass ceiling.”

    I have a lot of tiny floral prints, but object to animal prints for the most part…and I have been mulling this over lately. I tend to gravitate toward “natural” in the jewelry department.

    • No animal prints, huh? (My mind boggles!) Now, if I could just find a spider or wasp-print shirt, I could be horrified all the time! Might give me that creative “edge” I’m looking for…..

  8. Gail says:

    Fascinating post. It made me think about my own wardrobe. I don’t have anything geometric either, but I don’t have much that’s been influenced by nature,sadly, except for florals which I love.

  9. Polly says:

    I encourage you to check out the book Style Statement – it helps put a name to these preferences.

  10. notquiteold says:

    I’m excited every time a deer walks up our road, a little less so when she eats the lilies. And I love our wild turkeys – who come by the dozens and knock on the door if the feeders are empty. But it doesn’t for some reason translate to my clothes – I love solids much more than prints, and the clear pretty colors attract me more than earth colors. I’m orange sherbert, not maple walnut.

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