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Thursday, October 27, 2011

Spiffy Today...




"I find it a great antidote... lipstick and mirrors and hairspray."
Joanna Lumley


So you get dressed one morning, head out the front door on your way to an unremarkably normal day.  Except that all day long everyone says to you ‘you look great today!’  ‘Have you lost weight?’ ‘Are you working out?’ ‘Did you change your hair color?’ and so on.  You look in the mirror, and they’re right- you do look good today.  Unusually good.  As the day goes on your confidence grows.
The next day, buoyed by all the good feedback from the day before, you dress a little more carefully- it’s nice being complimented.  But instead of more compliments, no one says anything.  Except the guy in the next office- he asks if you had a late night last night? No, why? you ask- you look tired, he says. 
What went wrong? 
The thing is, if you don’t know why you looked good the day you got all the compliments, short of wearing the same outfit every day you’re powerless to recreate the experience.  It was just a happy accident.  But if you know what colors and design lines make you look your best, then you can make this happen every day.
Many of us are aware which color family we look our best in- warm or cool colors (orange or blue, for example.) But have you paid any attention to whether you look good in the bright or muted versions of these colors?  If not, then go to a mirror with good lighting, no makeup on and hair pulled back and try putting both a bright and muted version of one of your best colors near your face. You’ll soon have your answer.
Now onto design lines- ie: ‘styles’ of clothing- the ‘shapes’ of various clothes.  Maybe you’ve always loved long, gathered, flow-ey skirts; but it may be the case that your proportions aren’t good for these skirts.  Again, at a full length mirror with good lighting really look at yourself in said skirt.  Now look at yourself a different kind of skirt- it may be that if you’re short a shorter, more tailored skirt will flatter your shape more.  (My mother had a long, gathered skirt that always made her look like an upside down mushroom.  Not a good look on anyone.) You can find skirts that have the ‘romantic’ feel of the flow-ey skirt, but in a less bulky version.  A shorter, bias cut skirt in a sensual fabric, for example.  There are always ways to suit your aesthetic preferences and still create a pleasing visual balance with your figure.
I’m not big on sweeping, generalized statements like ‘if you have curvy hips you should wear pants with flair at the bottom’ because my experience has been that all your proportions have to be taken into account before knowing if you look good in pants that have flair at the bottom. Or any other style of pants, for that matter.
You have to be willing to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself.  It’s worth it!
After all, it’s nice to get compliments.
Oh- and a couple of simple rules to think about as well; clothes that are too big make you look bigger.  Clothes that are too small make you look bigger.  Doesn’t seem fair, but it is true.  Fit is as important as knowing what colors and designs look good on you.
Happy dressing! :-)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Wicked


"I did not have three thousand pairs of shoes, I had one thousand and sixty."  ~Imelda Marcos, 1987

Anyone who knows me knows I love my shoes.  All my shoes.  And my boots.  Every last pair.  Consequently, my shoe man loves me.  He’s Japanese, speaks limited English, so I assume to express his appreciation for me has been known to hug me. He should; I must pay his light bill every month.  I mean, if you spend good money on shoes that you love it’s advisable to spend a little each year on upkeep- that way you can double or more the life of said beloved shoes. 
Every day I wear heels- generally 5” platform stilettos.  I do actually have some flats- 5 pairs, I believe. You’ll see me sans heels when working out, going barefoot or when I’m sick.  The rest of the time I’m in my heels.  I may be wearing a $10.00 thrift shop dress, but it’s a pretty good bet that the shoes were...more. 
Yesterday I wore a pair that, in my world of I-love-all-my-shoes, I love perhaps a little more than some of the others. They’re such standout shoes that they wind up having the starring role in any ensemble.  Not to hurt any of my other shoes’ feelings, but these shoes are truly wicked.  Wicked, hot, and dangerous. No, really- the platform is a couple of inches, but I measured them and the heel is almost 6”.  That must be the highest heel I own. 
I’m not one to claim any sort of exceptional intelligence, but I get by- in these shoes however I’m reduced to the cliché ‘can’t walk and chew gum.’  I really have to pay attention. 
After walking my son to school I got home- time to walk the dogs.  In the wicked, dangerous shoes.  I looked at my 16 ½ yr old mutt.  She ‘looked’ back at me (I put this in quotation marks because she’s got a cataract in one eye and is blind in the other. But she always seems to know where I am.) She started up her tippy-tappy-toe-toe ‘we’re going walkie’ dance.  She may be blind, deaf and NOT dumb, in any sense of the word, but she sure has quality of life.  I envisioned the fight to get the harness on her- her wiping her snotty nose on me (especially if I’m wearing my purple suede boots) then the rediscovery every day of exactly where that darned front door is hiding, then the exuberant, headlong plunge down the stairs at whatever angle strikes her as being the best for that day….
I love my shoes.  I love my animals.  And I don’t see the point in risking death or ruining my beautiful shoes for the sake of a walk.  That benefits no one. 
Yesterday morning Lolly got to wipe her nose on my red suede sneakers. I guess even something as important as fashion has it's limitations. :-)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

“Exuberance is Beauty.” ~ William Blake


Physical ‘beauty’ is not an external, quantifiable, measurable ‘thing.’  It’s not how your various body parts are arranged, the color of your eyes or skin, your weight or age, or how much money and time you have to spend on clothes. In other words, beauty is subjective- in the external sense it’s in the eye of the beholder. There are potentially as many different kinds of beauty as there are people.  Go to any art museum and you’ll see hundreds of different interpretations of beauty.  You’ll also see that there really isn’t any such thing as a ‘figure flaw.’ 

Real ‘beauty’- the worthwhile kind- lies in facing life’s challenges with courage and integrity, being willing to take risks while putting yourself on the line in all earnestness. Doing what you can to make the world a better place. Sincerely doing your best to make your life and the lives of those around you better. Treating yourself, others, and the world at large with respect. These are the things that make us better people; it always shows, and always makes you more beautiful.   

Despite this, we are a visual species; by that I mean we have strong immediate responses to physical appearance when we see each other; especially for the first time. This results in assumptions about your socio-economic status, educational background, intelligence, self respect and so forth. 

As I said before, I believe part-a big part- of real beauty is self respect. Properly caring for your body -getting enough sleep, exercise, and eating well- is the first step.  Basic grooming/upkeep is next.  When you’ve got these things down, the only thing left to do to achieve ‘external’ beauty is to wear the colors and styles that flatter you and create a pleasing visual ‘balance.’ These things are the simple foundations of external beauty. This also tells others that you have self respect and thus expect them to also treat you with respect.  This helps in all areas of life.

Beyond this foundation is the joy of self expression.  With life being so full of challenges and circumstances that force us to quash opinions, preferences and even needs, this is one area that you can- and should- totally indulge yourself.  Every day is an opportunity to adorn yourself with what makes you look and feel your best.  It doesn’t cost more money to wear flattering colors, and no matter where you shop you’ll be able to pick and chose between styles that will be more flattering for your physique.  It also takes the same amount of time to put on clothes that make you look good as those that don’t. To really make dressing a pleasurable experience, be aware of your personal aesthetic and learn ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe as much as possible.

Life is so much better when you make the most of everything you’ve got.