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Friday, February 28, 2014

On Fitting In

"If you are out to describe the truth, leave elegance to the tailor." ~ Albert Einstein

This week I'm going to highlight a most unfair and unfortunate truth about the fit of one's clothes. 

If it's too big it makes you look bigger.

If it's too small it makes you look bigger.

Don't believe it? Go try on a shirt or pair of pants that's clearly too big for you.  Notice that the pants crotch hanging down not only makes your torso look longer, but also makes your legs look shorter. And let's face it- pants that are too big just look…dowdy. Notice how the lack of definition with the top gives you a lovely 'blob' like appearance. Not the look one wants. At least not this one.  Clothes that are too big create additional girth. Most of us don't need that.

I probably don't have to try as hard to convince you that clothes that are too small make you look bigger.  Just squeeze yourself into a skirt or top that's too small- you'll be popping out of the top, and maybe having some lovely 'muffin top' goin' on with the skirt….not to mention how uncomfortable it is as well.

If you're not convinced, just go to a store and pick out a garment a few sizes too small, another one the right size, and a third one a few sizes too big and try them on. You'll see you actually look slimmer and better proportioned with the one that fits the best. Oddly enough, both the too-large and too-small will indeed make you look larger.

So what do you do if you have 'fit issues?' There are a few ways around it. 

It may be that knits are your best friend here- if you start with the best inside and outside design lines for you, and you go for the best quality knit you can find and afford, then not only do you have the best looking fit, but it's probably going to wear better and last longer. Good quality knits tend to 'glide' over your figure better than the cheaper knits. 

There's always the option of avoiding certain styles of garments altogether, or trying them in non-traditional fabrics, if it can be found. Not necessarily the happiest option if it's a garment you'd like to wear, but sometimes it is what it is. 

The last alternative is finding a decent tailor; either to alter garments that you buy so they fit perfectly, or, perhaps to make the difficult-to-fit-garment from scratch. If it's a garment that you particularly want but can't find with a good fit, this may be worth the $$.

So, take THAT, you evil, unfair rule! Ha!

Happy Dressing!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Looking Into the Abyss

“Tell me what you eat, and I will tell you what you are.”
~ Anthelme Brillat Savarin

I'm going to get on my hobby horse this week. My excuse is that if you wanna look good, ya gotta be healthy. And too many people I really like aren't healthy.

Lets play a game. Lets imagine something; lets imagine what it feels like to wake up in the morning feeling fantastic. Having had a great night of deep, restful sleep, you wake up free of pain, not depressed or anxious, no need for drugs to manage pain or mood imbalances, ready to face the day with all the energy and strength you'll need. Feeling physically great, and happy. 

Unfortunately, this isn't reality for far too many of my friends- for too many people, period. They wake up tired, sick and in pain, maybe unhappy and/or anxious as well.  Next many of them start to medicate- maybe just in order to get through the day. And how does that day go? It may be that the day has to be planned around various health issues; pain, fatigue, mood issues, etc. Some days- it's just not gonna happen. It's a 'down' day- a total loss. 

Is that really living? I think it's just a sort of a murky half-life. More to the point, is that how you want to live your life?

It used to be that 'making healthy choices' was an option; that eating unhealthy food was at the least irresponsible, and at worst a pathway to eventual ill-health via preventable, degenerative disease. But usually this didn't happen until later in life. That if you made healthy choices in food and lifestyle, you'd have a better chance to avoid ill health and weight gain, and you'd look a bit better too.

I don't think any of that is really the case anymore.

I personally know way too many people who are way too young being literally debilitated by 'degenerative' disease that often seems to stump the medical field. I don't mean people being somewhat affected, but as in my above scenario, having to plan their life around their ill health. Over the past few decades we've seen an alarming rise in autism and autism spectrum disorders, allergies, auto-immune disease and inflammatory disease. Why? What's different? 

There's a lot of buzz about gluten intolerance, celiacs disease, GMO's, and even what happens when the two are put together in the human body. A lot of scary buzz. I keep seeing articles in magazines- even in fashion magazines- about new 'superbugs' that antibiotics are totally defenseless against. In short, it sounds to me like our immune systems are under assault, and the short story is that we're losing.

Read about the history of 'super gluten'-

And watch this about 'leaky gut'-

Read these about 'leaky gut'-

Read about what the combination of Roundup and gluten do to our bodies-

Watch THE movie all about GMO's- (warning- very scary)

Watch this about exactly what GMO's and Roundup are doing to the human body-

I'd like to think that all of this will jar my not-so-well friends out of any lazy complacency, and impress upon them the importance of taking responsibility for what they put in their mouths. I think what stops a lot of people from making the change to a 'real' food diet is fear of deprivation.  Yes, admittedly it's a big change for most. And yes, real food means…food preparation. Cooking. And cleanup. BUT. It's also really, really good. Actually, it's better than pre-packaged, junk/fast food.

Again revisit the first paragraph. Imagine waking up, feeling great…and the thing is, if you're eating real food, chances are you'll have that energy for the food prep, cooking and cleanup. And enough energy for everything else in life, too. And you'll probably be happier, too. The hardest part is beginning. It's making the commitment and doing the work before seeing any results. 

Still not convinced? Well, if you're one of the ones in poor health, let's play another game. If you're in your 30's,40's or 50's and already having 'down' days, what do you think it's going to be like in 10 or 20 yrs? How about 30? Drugs are generally designed to mask symptoms, not fix the root problems. So, if you don't make any changes, most likely nothing will get better. And drugs are very hard on your liver and kidneys…talk about premature aging-!

So, you really have very little to lose by making the change over to a 'real food' diet. And potentially everything to gain. 

Just ask the birds, bees and butterflies. They're dying to tell us that we really don't have a choice anymore. Literally.

Happy Dressing!

Friday, February 14, 2014

1+1+1= Infinity

"Design is not making beauty, beauty emerges from selection, affinities, integration, love."~Louis Kahn

Week before last I talked about color and how to find your best ones. Last week I reviewed design lines and how to 'work' them to your advantage. 

The idea behind all this was to reduce your choices to just a handful- to simplify, simplify, simplify- to choose only those colors and design lines that are the absolute best on you. That way, every day you give yourself the very best chance of looking your very best- otherwise it's a haphazard event when you do look good, and the rest of the time you won't look your best, possibly downright bad- all without you really understanding why. Not good. Fewer choices also means you're less likely to be overwhelmed when confronted with a store full of options. You know exactly what works on you, and you also know that anything less is just not worth it. 

Still, you may be looking at what you're left with and feeing a little deprived…have patience, here's where it starts to get fun. This next and last part is where your choices open up to the point of being seemingly infinite.

Let's start with color. You know now what color family you belong to, and whether those colors will look best muted or full intensity, and how much contrast you should wear in a given outfit. So. Where you go from there is up to you- you may choose to mix color in a very traditional way, or perhaps in avant garde way- more unexpected combinations. you may choose to wear one color per outfit and, should you need more contrast, get it with accessories. Maybe your focus really isn't so much on actual color, maybe you're all about interesting texture. The way that makes you happy is the best way to do it. 

On to design lines..Again, you may choose the traditional options, or you may choose to stretch the limits of what works best on you and find the avant garde in it all. And how you put it all together is another avenue for expression as well. You may choose one 'uniform' to wear all the time- one silhouette, or 2 or 3 basic silhouettes. Or you might try to have options in every combination imaginable. Totally up to you.

Odds are there's at least one someone out there who looks best in the same colors and design lines as you-  but I bet if you compared wardrobes you'd never be able to tell. Between choices in color, color mixing, texture, mixing texture, overall style and mixing styles and the various details you choose to add, there's no limit on creativity. 

And as long as you start with your 'rules'- the small handful of colors and design lines that work best on you, really the only failure might be an outfit that you just sorta don't like. And that's easy enough to fix, right?

Happy Dressing! 

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Successful Design

"Art is not what you see, but what you make others see."

This week's blog is about the second part of my consultation process with my client- 'design lines.' By design lines I mean the outside and inside lines of a garment- outside lines are the 'profile' of the garment- such as an A line skirt vs. a straight skirt, or skinny jeans vs. bell bottoms. By inside lines I mean a double breasted vs. single breasted jacket, seaming details, such as pocket placement, princess seams, etc. Although inside design lines may seem comparably unimportant, they can have a surprisingly big impact on overall appearance.

In fact, both inside and outside design lines are probably more important than you realize. It's second in importance only to color. The design lines you wear determine to a large extent how your proportions come across- if you look wide, tall, skinny, short, and how your various bits and parts seem to visually relate to each other. It determines whether you are visually balanced or not. 

Most advice I see tends to 'compartmentalize' individual areas of the body- 'if you have wide hips, wear bell bottoms to balance out your hips.' Well, this can be true if you're tall; but if you have short legs and a round torso, this may make you look even shorter and rounder. And even that I'm not willing to commit to- there are just too many potential variables. 'If you have broad shoulders don't wear ____ because you want your shoulders to look narrower.' This might be true if your shoulders are considerably wider than your hips- but if you have rubanesque hips, you may be better off not trying to minimize your shoulder width, as your wide shoulders create 'balance' for your hips. And again, balance is what it's ALL about… 

So here's what you need to remember. In order to made something look longer or thinner, use vertical (up and down)  lines- diagonal lines usually work here, too. In order to make something look wider or shorter, use horizontal (side to side- like the horizon) lines. You may have heard the generalization that if you have wide hips your shouldn't wear horizontal lines on your lower half because you'll make your hips appear wider and your legs shorter. This is why. (And I'll commit 85% to this generalization, too.) 

For example: if you have a rounder torso, belts might be a problem for you. Generally, being a horizontal line they emphasize width exactly where you don't want it emphasized- but there are a few tricks you can employ here if you just cannot give up your belts. Keep the belt the same color as the garment you're wearing; that way it's an 'inside design line' yet not a total 'line break'- a line break is where something visually breaks your appearance in to separate pieces, and is, as a general rule, one of the first places the eye is drawn to. So be careful where line breaks occur. Another trick is to wear those vertical lines with the belt- such as a jacket or fairly tailored sweater over the belt, and only have the belt showing at the front, where the sweater or jacket is open. This works if the topper you have on 'skims' or 'drapes' over the body- if it's tight it won't work. And that's always true when using vertical lines to make an aspect of your figure look longer/thinner- the vertical lines must hang well- they must drape or skim over the area. If too tight they can sometimes almost become a horizontal line, or have wrinkles that are so pronounced as to become horizontal lines right where you're trying to work the 'vertical' thing. This is one reason I always say it's so important to stick with the highest quality knits you can afford- not only do they always hang, drape or cling better, but they tend to last longer, too. 

And the last element I want to bring in is hemlines- they also profoundly affect whether or not a figure will appear 'balanced.' Lets take our above example again- say she's gone with the old standby of a top that falls below her behind, and a pair of pants. We know she's a little on the shorter side, and her midsection is one of the widest parts of her figure- how's this going to look? 

In the first example we see how the toga-style top looks: the good part is that it skims over her figure, so that creates the very helpful 'vertical' where it's most advantageous. But- notice how the length of the top makes her look top heavy; this effect is further strengthened because she's wearing flats, and with her proportions, it makes her legs appear very short. This, clearly, is not the most balanced look for her.

In this next example we've changed 2 things- first, we shortened the hemline on the top; we made it end at her high hip. This alone will create visual balance between her top half and her bottom half by making her legs look longer. Second, we've made the pants and top either the same color or very close. This visually reinforces the vertical lines, making her look longer and leaner. Add some pretty accessories, and voilĂ - a lovely image. Success indeed.

Well, there you go. A tiny example of how just a couple of small, easy changes can have such a huge impact on one's appearance….

Happy Dressing!