Erica Wheeler: inspiring connections between people and place

March 2013/ Mud Season Chic or Why Fashion Isn't as Superficial as You Think

March 2013 Mud Season Chic or Why Fashion Isn039t as Superficial as You Think
As I write this, there is a steady snow coming down, covering the ground with a fresh blanket of white. Last week felt like the start of what is known in New England as "mud season", when all the snow turns to gray and black. But earlier this month, under the full moon, they started tapping the maple trees on our road, reminding me that nature is stirring below. I feel that stirring inside of me too.

My feature article this month is called Mud Season Chic. It's about how to bring more beauty and color into your life and at the same time connect more with the earth, yourself and all of creation.

Hope to see you and your beautiful self somewhere soon!

Feature Article
I've never really told you this, but it's true: I'm a fashionista. In a down-to-earth kind of way. I used to think fashion was superficial and materialistic. It can be. But for me, fashion is about expressing a story I want to tell. I love to dress in tune or anticipation of the season in beautiful, sensuous clothes – clothes that make my senses come alive. By dressing with the colors I see in my daily life, I feel more connected to the season, to the earth, to nature and the creator. In that way, fashion is about ceremony.

But it hasn't always been this way…

When I was young, I mostly lived in hand-me-downs from my brothers. In high school, I shopped at Salvation Army where I bought flannel shirts and jeans. I wanted to be a park ranger or wildlife biologist when I grew up, so those were the only clothes I needed.

Then I bought my first real "outfit" in 1992 at the urging of my manager, at the start of my music career. I still remember it: a sleeveless white linen shirt with navy bellbottom pants that had a pattern of tan flowers on them. The season was late August and I wore it at an outdoor festival when I performed. I loved feeling the wind billowing the fabric, and how it seemed to fit in with the sky and clouds and summer grass.

But it was in 1996 that things really changed. I attended a 10-day spiritual retreat in Montana with Brooke Medicine Eagle, teacher and author of Buffalo Woman Comes Singing. I was told beforehand that on the last day we were going to do a ceremony, and we needed to wear a skirt. A skirt? I didn't even own one! But Brooke changed all of that.

The most central, life-altering idea that Brooke gave me was this: to seek out the beauty in life. It's not about ignoring what is not beautiful. It's about seeing, and thus adding to the beauty in our lives. Doing this inside and out is what she calls grooming the spirit. Taking care of our physical health and appearance as well as our homes, gardens and beyond as an extension of our spirit. It's a way to honor our creator, the earth and ourselves. Brooke forever changed the way I look at all things, including getting dressed.

Clothes are now a fun way to celebrate the season,  and feel more connected to each new day, each place, no matter where I am.

Try This:
Take Inspiration from Nature, Art and Architecture
Any place can serve your inspiration: a visit to a new city, an art show at a gallery, or a botanical garden.

Last week we went to the spring bulb show at Smith College, an annual ritual of beautiful, colorful reprieve and a sign of things to come. Seeing all the flowers makes me want to bring more hints of spring into my life. The color combinations at the show inspired me to work more color combinations into my wardrobe.

In this transitional season, I am drawn to add more splashes of yellow or purple paired with green, light gray and brown. These colors make me think about the flowers that are already awake beneath the snow and mud, and already starting to push up from the ground. I feel my energy rising up to the light along with them.

It's really about training your eye to look at color combinations in a new way. Once you do, you'll find new inspiration for the way you use color in your life.

Add More Color to Your Life
I want to share a website I discovered that I am just giddy about.

The site takes a photo of something and pulls out all the colors to create a Pantone color panel. They use everything from flowers to buildings to cupcakes to create a combination of six colors that go together beautifully. This site will help you see more colors than ever. It could inspire you to create a new outfit, or redo a whole room.

Your Story
I hope you are feeling the stirrings of spring too, no matter where you are.
How do you bring the colors into your life? What inspires you? I'd love to hear.
Please post a comment below

updated: 1 year ago