One of the style bloggers I follow has a recurring feature highlighting the style of models she admires. As I scroll through the photos, I think, wow, these models really do have a great sense of style. But then again, they are models, which by definition means they look good in anything. They wear a ratty old sweatshirt to the grocery store, and they look so fabulous doing it that suddenly we’re all buying vintage sweatshirts. That’s why the designers pay them the big bucks. So do these models really have a great sense of style? Or are they just so beautiful that we can’t tell the difference?
Anyway, all this had me thinking: if I were to feature a similar set of posts on my blog, whom would I feature? When I think of the word style, who comes to mind? A couple of women do right away, and they aren’t in their twenties, I’ll tell you that. And I honestly couldn’t even tell you much about how they dress.
The first one is Bonnie Raitt. I really look up to Bonnie. I think she’s the perfect example of how style isn’t always just what you wear, but how you wear it—it’s not only how you look, but how you are.
Bonnie Raitt is famous for her guitar playing first, her singing second. But her sense of style? I don’t suppose too many people have written about that. Not that she doesn’t look good. She looks great!
She’s figured out her hair, for one thing. That woman has amazing hair. Red and huge and with that signature white stripe. And once she got it down, she stuck to it. (This is one of the great things about getting older that I’m learning—you can figure out what works for you and then just keep doing it.)
As I look through Google Images at photos of Bonnie over the years (I’d post them here but I think I could be sued), I realize that she’s got the clothes thing down, too. She tends to stick to a color palette that compliments her hair and complexion (jewel tones), and her necklines are always flattering. Again, the hallmarks of a woman who knows herself.
But none of this is what makes her a style hero for me. I guess for me, style is a broader term that encompasses a person’s presence, or energy, or some vague word like that. When I say Bonnie Raitt is my style hero, I’m thinking about the way she is.
When I was a teenager, my parents played her albums Nick of Time and Luck of the Draw over and over, but I don’t think I ever heard her speak until I saw her on Oprah in 1998. She would have been nearly 50 then, and I would have been 24. I remember sitting captivated as she spoke; she represented just the kind of woman I wanted to grow to become. She was confident but humble, sincere, soulful, beautiful (that hair!), and comfortable in her own skin. More than anything, though, I thought she was sexy, so sexy—especially the way she moved and looked when she sang.
What you wear matters, but perhaps it isn’t as important as how you wear it. Great style comes from attitude. And confidence. And sexuality, humility, kindness, and a bunch of other stuff that Bonnie Raitt has in spades.
Bonnie Raitt is 63. Even now, she’s still going strong. So inspiring.
And since I’m an Austinite, I’ll leave you with this one last special video. Here is Bonnie on Austin City Limits in 1995 TEARING IT UP on Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Pride and Joy.” If she’s not your hero yet, I bet she will be after you see this.
© Amy Daniewicz