As we age our view of style changes. We are looking for happy, energizing clothes that bring vibrancy into our lives. Join us in conversation with style blogger Mel Kobayashi and prepare to be wowed. Enjoy the show!

 

 
 

Margaret Manning:

My guest today is style blogger Mel Kobayashi. Mel lives in Vancouver, Canada and has a very unique sense of style and fashion. She celebrates style with humor and art. I love that, so welcome, Mel.

Mel Kobayashi:

Hi! Thanks, Margaret, it’s great to be here.

Margaret:

It’s fun to have you on Sixty and Me. I love your attitude toward clothing because you make me feel like clothing really has the power to change our mood.

So many women in our community who are in their 50s and 60s have lived and dressed to a certain modality all their lives. Now that they are older, they can see clothing for what it is. So, tell us about your relationship with clothing.

Mel:

I love clothing. It brings out different parts of me that are buried inside. Like most of us, I grew up watching a lot of black and white movies and a certain character would fascinate me. Today, for instance, I am channeling Audrey Hepburn.

If I feel that my mood is going down, I know that clothing is going to lift me up – it always does. I’d go to my closet and pull out something colorful and energizing. And even if it doesn’t pick up my mood right away, I still reap up the benefits.

For instance, if I put on a colorful jumpsuit that you may think looks silly, and I go out, people would invariably smile even if I don’t feel particularly happy myself. But their smiles pick me up and I would feel so much better.

When you’re in the public sphere, style has a boomerang effect. It affects others then comes back at you, bringing you energy and creating a cool circular current that has the power to transform one’s mood.

Margaret:

So, do you say it’s clothing that makes you happy or choosing the clothing? Is happiness inherent in the color or style? Why does a piece of clothing make you happy?

Mel:

I think it’s a combination of things. If I want happy clothing, I think color. I love black, too, but it has a whole different “I’m a sexy rock star” vibe.

No matter how personal our choice of clothing is, it has an impact on the world. It interacts with the people around us. So, when you encounter somebody, that affects you, but your choice of clothing affects them. In that manner, it’s not just the clothing itself that matters, it’s how it impacts the world.

If you’re in a down mood at home, you could play around with clothing as well. Try on a bunch of colorful feather boas and you can lift yourself up in no time.

Margaret:

Funnily enough, Mel, I don’t have any feather boas in my closet.

Mel:

Oh my goodness. That’s a serious lack in your wardrobe.

Margaret:

So it seems like you’re saying that clothing has the power to communicate something of your essence to other people. I’ve actually found that when you wear a hat people smile more. They do seem to communicate with you, don’t they?

Mel:

They absolutely do. If I wear a beret in Vancouver people always say, “Oh are you from Paris?”

Margaret:

Yes, the association with Paris is immediately there. I think clothes do have the tendency to bring about memories – sometimes happy ones, sometimes deep ones.

Mel:

Yes, it’s a signal to people that they immediately apply and end up with a stereotype – which can work both in good and bad ways.

Margaret:

A lot of people in our community feel that since they’re in their 60s there’s no need to follow the rules any more. When it comes to fashion, you really just do what you want.

There is still some hesitancy, because you don’t want to be so garish that you don’t feel comfortable. On the other hand, I think we just want to go for it. Wear your jewels – you buy them, so just wear them.

Mel:

If not now, when?

Margaret:

Exactly. So tell us more about your happy clothes.

Mel:

I have lots of happy clothes. I have a very colorful vintage jumpsuit with a halter top; that’s all cotton. Then, my favorite boots are a wonderful deep pear green suede with layered fringe.

Margaret:

Do you wear them to the grocery store?

Mel:

I do. I wear all the things I’m sharing with you out in public, and I feel fabulous. Also, I have so many conversations with strangers because of my clothes. They will come to me and say, “I love your style.” If they don’t like it, they are polite enough not to say anything.

Margaret:

Exactly, they have learned. What else?

Mel:

I have a wonderful pair of elf shoes. Both the boots and the elf shoes are from a company called Fluevog. They have got people who bow down to them, because they are such an iconic brand. They started in Vancouver and I am in Vancouver, so that explains part of it.

I also love my converse boots. They lace up at the front, but zip up at the back, so you don’t go insane when you are putting on your footwear.

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Margaret:

I’ve never seen Converse boots like those.

Mel:

They’re pretty comfortable too. I also love wearing my favorite colorful necktie.

Margaret:

How would you wear it? Just with black?

Mel:

I’ll wear it with patterns. Also, I have neon yellow lace blouse which is amazing, and I’ll wear the tie with it.

Margaret:

Sounds like a lovely combination.

Mel:

Okay, so clothing aside, I have this amazing twelve-pack of colorful eyeshadow. I have so much fun playing with that set. There is gold glitter, silver, black and all colors of the palette, and I wear all of them. Sometimes I wear them all together, when I’m having fun at home.

Margaret:

I thought I was the only one who had fun with makeup. I love playing with the colors too. Often I’d put on a slinky, long t-shirt dress and just play with the colors. Why not feel happy at home too, right?

Mel:

I know. You can create happiness in your own home environment, or you can invite girlfriends over. I know women who have feather boa parties with their friends. It sounds fantastic.

Sometimes I like to wear wigs at home, too. I put on an accessory, like funny glasses, and the look is enough to bring about positive energy.

Margaret:

I think you’re way out of Audrey Hepburn now. This is more like Ab Fab mode.

Mel:

I love Ab Fab.

Margaret:

So, you take clothing and let it be a reflection of your beautiful, creative, artsy self. You’re not letting your clothes control you. You are controlling them.

Mel:

Yes, I’m in charge of my clothes. I think style is a little bit of a political act for me. With my clothing I’m stating that I’m not going to follow any trend, I’m not going to follow what anyone else tells me to follow.

I’m going to make my own decision about what I’m going to wear. It’s a little act of defiance as well, and I really enjoy it.

Margaret:

When did you start this unique style? What was the turning point that encouraged you to go for it?

Mel:

When I was a kid I grew up in the country. I had no friends around, so I had to entertain myself. My mom had some crinoline old dresses she had worn to weddings and I enjoyed playing with them.

Then I fell out of it for quite a few years. I worked a midnight shift with some pop stars in Japan and in Vancouver. Of course, it was an all-night thing, because they kept late hours.

I wore all black and my husband wore all black. When we ventured outside in the daytime we’d wear our shades, just like vampires in the movies.

When I reached my late 40s I noticed people were ignoring me and I didn’t like that. I promised to myself, “You are going to pay attention to me whether you like it or not.” That’s when I started a street style blog under the influence of Bill Cunningham, the late New York Times style photographer.

He was such an awesome man. He inspired me to start a street style blog, and then I went over to my own style blog. I started small and then I just kept gathering momentum, and now I’m a steam locomotive.

Margaret:

You have got onto your track. I’ve read your blog, and I’ve read some of the comments that people have made about you. Other fashion and style bloggers seem to really love your ability to make other people feel energized and to give them permission to be crazy and kooky and wonderful.

Mel:

Yes. We are allowed to play. In our days, it seems play is a lost art. We’re in the days of social media, which is like a double sided coin. On the one side, you’re always trying to stay connected, always planning your social thing, but the other side is play for the pure joy of it.

Among other things, I also do personal styling. I had a client who is an awesome woman. She was so cool and she was absolutely ready for change. Now she is modelling. She just embraced her new personality, and I have her as an inspiration.

Margaret:

Honestly, Mel, you are an inspiration to me. I just feel like I’ve been plugged into an electric circuit here.

Mel:

It’s because of my hair.

Margaret:

You’ve given us so many great ideas, and I know the community is going to love you. Thank you for sharing your clothing, and you spirit, and your passion for style. I look forward to talking to you again. Thank you so much.

Mel:

Thank you so much Margaret.

Margaret:

Take care.

Do you have your personal, individual, unique style? How did you come to develop it? Please share some of your favorite style choices in the comments below.

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