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Saturday, May 26, 2012

Sorry folks- no blog this week; I'm taking a fascinating class in makeup artistry to add to my skill set, and I'm just crazy busy. I have one more week left, and then I'll be back to my blog!

In the meantime, Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Life's Essentials

"A good sermon should be like a woman's skirt: short enough to arouse interest but long enough to cover the essentials." ~Ronald Knox

Wardrobe staples are generally considered to be those go-to pieces that are the foundation of a good wardrobe. They're often pieces lacking in a lot of 'personality-' neutral color, classic, understated style.  They're like that for a reason.  Being classic in style means that they won't readily go out of fashion.  Think of them as almost a backdrop for the more dramatic, ever-evolving-with-fashion  elements in your wardrobe.  You can spend more on these foundational pieces and wear the hell out of them for years.  This is why they're called 'staples.' Since you'll wear them so much you should make sure they fit perfectly and be in your very best design lines. And the best quality you can afford.

Most people will treat the 'staples' as foundational pieces to build the wardrobe around, and not as the entire wardrobe.  There will, of course, be some minimalist, purist types who will take perverse pleasure in in acquiring only the staples, and only in the very best quality they can afford.  The rest of us will drool at their smug restraint and the resulting annoying organization in their closets.  Such is life.  (For slobs like me, anyway.)

Here's my take on some commonly accepted staples.

But first, a note on why so many 'basics' are suggested in black; with black you can get away with a slightly inferior quality fabric- the quality doesn't stand out as much as it does with a 'color.' Then there's the fact that being black it won't show dirt or stains- at least not as obviously. Also, most all garments are offered in black, so it's easy to find and replace items as you need them. There's no issue with matching black garments.  Black also 'goes' with all other colors and neutrals.

The Little Black Dress (LBD)-  As you can find infinite varieties of styles out there it's nearly impossible to not find one that's flattering.  (At last count I think I have 14. I think I can stop now with the LBD's, eh?) Can be dressed down for the farmers market or up for a black tie affair, depending on the type and quality of the fabric. One of the most versatile pieces you can own, period.
Black Jacket- to go with both other suit pieces or jeans- casual or professional. Make sure it's the right length for your proportions. This would work with 'my additions,' below.
Great Jeans - not the ones you wash the car in, please. NICE ones. Consider dark blue- easier to dress up.
Great Khakis - flat front.
White Button Down Shirt- white is hard to wear- not everyone looks good in it. If you don't, pick a soft version of one of your neutrals instead.
Cardigan Sweater(s) - best to start with neutrals first, then add color as you wish. If you don't look good in a crew neck but want the classic, then just don't button it up all the way.
Trench Coat - a flattering shade of beige is considered classic- but go with another color if you prefer.
Pumps - most will pick black, but can be any neutral.
Ballet Flats- with some support, ideally- better than totally flat.
Good Bag -  leather would be nice, preferably in a color that works nicely with the pumps, and good quality.
Shell Top(s)- at least a couple in colors that work seamlessly with your 'staple' pants and skirts. Make sure the neckline is flattering.
Long Sleeve Top(s)- same as w/shells
Jewelry- most traditionally a pearl necklace and perhaps pearl studs, as well as diamond studs, all either real or fake.  Add gold hoops if you like.

My additions:

Black Skirt- in your best hem length; can be dressed up or down, casual or professional.
Black Slacks- can also be dressed up or down.
Classic Wrap Dress- great in black, or other neutral.

Hope this little sermon hit the sweet spot- not too long, not too short…

Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Uniform Peace

"Realize how little you need in order to be satisfied and at peace." ~Wayne Dyer

Everyone wants to look good, but that doesn't mean everyone has the time, let alone interest in developing an extensive wardrobe.  Some of us want a easy formula, making shopping for clothes and dressing in the morning a breeze.  So let's talk about eliminating what we don't need.  Lets talk simplification. Lets talk 'uniform dressing.'

Uniform dressing is just another method to simplify your life.  It's putting together components that you know work on you as well as together with each other to create an easy, foolproof 'formulas.'  It's choosing a few options from the design lines that work best on you and sticking with those 'shapes,' in various combinations.There are a couple of different ways to approach uniform dressing.

The simplest way, and thus one of the best for the 'fashion challenged,'  is to pick a couple of specific styles of a particular garment. Let's start with tops; say you know you look good in, and like tunic style tops and also short sleeve v neck t-shirts. You decide these will be your basic 'uniform' shapes for tops. Next, you know you look good in wide leg pants and also boot cut pants.  You know there are a couple of skirt styles that look good on you, but you don't like skirts, so there's no reason to include them.  Ok, so now we have the basic components for a few simple 'uniforms.' Depending on  variables such as fabric, color, texture, and perhaps other details, you can use these formulas for casual, professional and even dressier outfits. 

Once you've chosen basic shapes it's time to determine what goes with what; the tunic top probably shouldn't be worn with the wide leg pants- if you have a 'loose' top, it's best to stick with a more 'fitted' bottom, and vice versa. (Of course this also depends on your individual proportions.) So, you'll wear the tunic tops with the boot cut pants, and the fitted, v neck t shirts will work with both the wide leg pants and the boot cut pants. 

All that's left is to find the various pieces in your colors, and combine them according to your proper contrast level, and also with an eye to making sure the line breaks are in a flattering place.  In other words, if you're wearing a different color top and pants, you may want to avoid having the hem of the top end at a 'wide' point in your figure.  Perhaps you have low contrast in your coloring, so you'll want to wear low contrast combinations.  So one option is to pick tops and bottoms in the same color and basically wear one color from top to bottom, which brings me to my next kind of uniform...

Maybe you are all about specific colors, and are less about sticking with particular shapes. Maybe you're more into spending some time on developing said wardrobe.  Here's another type of 'formula.' You can build little capsules with your chosen colors, or combinations of colors.  You'd still stay with design lines that you know work on you, (and that you love) but it's not about repeating the same style of garment. One capsule has variations on a certain color- say, green. Maybe a skirt, pants, jacket and a couple of tops that are all interchangeable- each piece goes with all the others. Then you might add accessories in variations of purple to this first capsule.  You could also have a set of accessories in another color for your 'green' capsule- maybe yellow.  Another capsule may contain red and black, with accessories in a third color, and so on.  

I'm sure there are lots of other, wonderful, and even crazy ways of creating uniforms.  Your imagination is your only limitation here.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Faking Up When You're Down

"In such ugly times, the only true protest is beauty." ~Phil Ochs

A couple of weeks ago I asked a friend to suggest some topics for my blog.  One of her suggestions was the effectiveness of dressing 'up' when feeling 'down.'  Later on that same day another friend brought up the same subject.  I chose to take this coincidence as a sign. I think it's an excellent subject, and it's a big part of what I preach.

There are always those nasty bumps in life that make you lose your balance and maybe topple off to not feeling so good about life, or even yourself. Losing a job, the end of a relationship, death of a loved one, serious illness, etc.  Life can be brutal, and we all on occasion get the wind knocked out of us.  If it's been one of life's nastier bumps, it may well take some time to get your bearings. During this time just getting out of bed can be overwhelming. So be it.  But if it's a lesser bump, or a bit of  time has passed after a bigger bump, it's worth it to push yourself a little- the payoff can be pretty big, both internally and externally.

From the Inside

Dressing well when down has the potential to lift a bad mood, even if only a little. If nothing else it can make one feel less 'vulnerable' when already down.  It's always better to look in the mirror and see your 'best' self staring back.  If you look  in the mirror and instead see your image without attention and care to your appearance, it can demoralize you even more.   If you dress your best when you feel down, it's a vote of confidence in yourself when it may feel as if no one else believes in you, or that the world is conspiring against you, etc. At least you're on your side.

From the Outside

Maybe you've hit one of those nastier bumps but aren't in a position to take some 'down time' and must push forward with life as if nothing were wrong.  Dressing well during this sort if situation can help you 'fake it till you make it,' as they say.  When you present a good, strong image you give yourself some much needed support.  This is good strategy in the best of times, and an absolute necessity in the worst. Sometimes it's all you've got between you and the big, bad world.

I'm always harping on how important it is to remember not only how your image affects how you feel about yourself, but also what it broadcasts about you to the world at large.  When we're feeling bad is often when we feel least like putting effort into image, but it's one of the most important times to do it.  It's showing faith in yourself when you most need that, treating yourself with respect when maybe others aren't, and again, putting up a good 'front' when you most need a barrier between you and the world.

The uglier the times, the more important it is to bring some beauty into your world.

Happy Dressing!