Like it or not, what we dress in is a direct reflection of who we are personally, socially, and historically.

Leah Wilson

Clothes are the narration of a woman’s life.  I still remember the dress I wore when my daughter was christened, the blazer of my first speaking gig, the hiking boots that carried me up to my first 14-er.  I remember the long wool coat that I wore walking through moon lit snow during my first trip to Aspen and the black leather skirt during my photo shoot at the Louvre. Clothing is a source of self-expression as well as a touchstone to our lives.  Look into a woman’s closet and you’ll see an autobiography of her life.

So, in anticipation of my summer South of France vacation, I decided to go on a hunt for the perfect la robe – one that embodied femininity, chic-ness and elegance – and one that would hold memories of yet another summer.

Upon walking into the department store, I knew what I wanted.  Yet, it’s so easy to become overwhelmed by all the different designers, styles, colors and patterns.  When this happens, grab a sales person (most high end department stores have personal stylists trained to help you sift through the madness to find something that is perfect for you).  That’s exactly what I did.

“Wait here,” he said and went off into the land of couture to find me a summer dress.

He returned to the dressing room with 3 different garments, none of which I would have picked for myself.  Yet, when I saw “the one,” I knew had a strong knowing that this would be the dress that would accompany many of my summer adventures to a walk through Saint Tropez to backyard cookouts.

As soon as I wrapped myself in the dress, I knew that this wasn’t just any piece of clothing.  It was art – original and sublime.  It was sophisticated – elegant and simple.  It was quality – made of silk and well-designed.  It was everything I wanted to be this summer.

“Style is knowing who you are, what you want to say, and not giving a damn”
― Orson Welles

Once I knew I wanted the dress, I looked at the price tag.  Five hundred dollars! Ouch.  For many women, it is inconceivable to spend that much money on a piece of clothing.  I understand, because I use to be one of those women.  Yet, as I’ve learned to strategically invest in my wardrobe, I’ve discovered that quality trumps quantity.  Instead of stuffing my closet with 10 mediocre dresses, I prefer to beautifully hang one or two of my favorite pieces that truly are a style statement. Ironically, I’ve run the numbers, and the total wardrobe investment is about the same.

When you view your wardrobe as an art form, the way you express who you are in the world, it’s like investing in beautiful artwork for your home.  But, your body becomes the display instead of a wall.

Speaking of investment, what has been my return on this dress in less than a month?  Well, I’ve been stopped by strangers on the street wanting to know where I found it.  Men have asked me where they can buy one for their wives.  And, my daughter has already asked if I can pass it down to her.

But, that’s not the best part. Quite simply, I feel more beautiful, confident and expressive because I strategically chose a piece of clothing that is aligned with how I want to walk through the world.  This dress will be part of my story linked to fabulous dinners, hugs from friends, the streets of NYC, the sunshine of the Mediterranean sea and a reminder that life is about creating art from the words you say to what you wear.  Clothing myself is part of how I French Kiss Life.  That is priceless!

Can a dress have this much power in a woman’s life?  Absolutement!

So, if you’re curious about this certain summer dress, here I am playing red light/green light in Central Park with the French Kiss the World Society.  This is a moment I’ll remember forever, especially when I see this dress hanging in my closet.

Tonya Leigh dress feminine chic elegant

If you want to add this dress to your wardrobe.  But, don’t be surprised when you have people stopping you on the streets to ask you where you found it or how incredible you feel when you wrap yourself in the silk fabric.  Clothes are a powerful tool in creating your life.  It’s not everything, but it sure makes life more fun and vibrant!

I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Do you have a specific piece of clothing that you love or remember?  Tell me all about it in the comments below.


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