Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: Body Shape

V Body Shape

V Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with the way your “meat” is attached to those bones. So far, we have tackled the AX8, and I. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other, and at whether the waist is defined or not. When we talk about the X, 8, and I, we say that those are balanced shapes, meaning that they are even in (visual) width at the shoulders and the hips. The A is an unbalanced shape, with hips wider than the shoulders. The V is another unbalanced shape; but with the shoulders wider than the hips.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

(This first part is the same for all body shapes!) To determine your body shape, take a full length photo of yourself in leggings and a form-fitting cami. Print out the picture if you can, and lay a ruler on it. Draw a straight line from your shoulder bone (not the outside of your arm) to the widest part of your hip. For some women this will be at the hip bones. For some, the widest part may be across the leg crease. If the line you draw angles in toward your hips from wider shoulders, you may be a V. Some V’s have waists, and others have no defined waist. V’s are often thought of as having a “swimmer’s body.”  V’s are often the envy of their hippier sisters like A’s, X’s and 8’s. Celebrity V’s include Cameron Diaz., Demi Moore, and Hayden Panettiere.

V’s What to Wear

If the goal is to balance your hips and shoulders, then V’s may do this by wearing darker colors on the top and lighter colors on the bottom. Raglan sleeves, and plain tops are good choices. Skirts and pants with horizontal patterns or details also can also help balance the bottom. Whiskering on jeans works for V’s, as do cargo pockets which many other body shapes need to avoid. Gathered and pleated skirts balance the shoulders as well. Trousers or jeans with a flare or bootleg are flattering. V’s should look for tops and jackets that have v-necks or low lapels, and look great in jackets with patch or flap pockets near the hips. Feeling fancy? Halterneck dresses and gowns are made for you, Miss V! The V body shape is the opposite of the A, and they dress “oppositely” too…

V’s What to Avoid

V’s wanting to create balance should avoid drawing attention to the shoulders. Pass by the tops and jackets with epaulettes, cap sleeves, gathered or puffed shoulders. Spaghetti straps on tops just make those broad shoulders look even more broad. Shiny and blousy fabrics on the top will also create more volume where it is not needed. Wide, high lapels like those on biker jackets also create more unnecessary width. Stay away from double-breasted styles to avoid adding bulk to your upper half.

When You Love It Anyway

I am sure everyone is tired of hearing the alterations mantra, but it suits for every body type. V’s may find tailoring trousers to take out bulk from the hips and thighs a necessity. Buy jackets and tops to fit through the shoulders, and have the body tapered to fit properly. If a blousy ruffled top is a must have, wear a long vest over it to create a smoother longer line. If you must wear a top with a very high or closed neckline, draw verticals with jacket openings  or even a long necklace or two. Gotta have those skinny jeans? Pair them with riding boots for balance.

The Perfect Handbag

The Perfect Handbag

I spent years looking for the perfect handbag. I don’t literally mean years wandering the Earth in pursuit of the perfect bag, but I might have had a wee obsession. Pretty much anywhere I went that had anything vaguely resembling a handbag, I would look. This led to some amusing, and some incredibly practical purchases, and quite a bit (Oh, let’s just say a lot!) of wasted money. It wasn’t until much later that I thought to spend  time thinking about what I thought made a handbag “perfect.” Let me make something clear; I despise (No, that is not too strong a word.) the tyranny of “perfect.” There is only one perfect, and it’s not found on this Earth. I prefer: Ideal for you now. This is where I struggle with the what-every-woman-MUST-own lists discussed in a previous post. At some point I discovered that there is no perfect handbag, or even ideal, but there is the handbag that best works for at this point in my life, and for particular occasions.

Here are a variety of questions to ask yourself before exchanging your cold hard cash (or credit card) for a new bag…

Know Thyself Questions

  • What is my life like? Do I need a bag that is easy to clean? (Maybe that cute suede hobo isn’t such a good idea…) Where will it live at home or work? On the floor? In a drawer? In a coat closet? On the dining room table where spills happen?
  • What do I want this bag for? Everyday? A special event like a wedding? Travel?
  • How much do I like to carry around with me daily? Am I the kitchen sink woman, or a  phone, credit card, and lipstick woman? Or am I  somewhere in between? (If you are the kitchen sink woman, know that you will spend more time and money at the doctor’s office later!)
  • Do I want a bag du jour (the latest trend), or one that will stand the test of time?
  • Do I want to change bags often, or have one that goes with “everything”? (Note: There is no bag that goes with everything. There are bags that go with your everyday everything!)
  • How much do I have to spend? How much do I want to spend? (These are two very different questions!) Am I willing to spend more than I want to get what I really like? (Note: I would NEVER suggest you spend more than you have to get what you really like!)
  • What size and shape bags are best for my personality, body shape, and scale?
  • Is brand important to me? Do I like carrying a recognizable bag? Do I like logos? Or do I prefer to go stealth? (Be honest here…  It is a pity to spend a fortune on a bag just to find out you don’t want to be advertising for a particular company. And it is OK to want a bag with someone else’s initials if that makes you happy!)

Know Your Bags Questions

  • Do I prefer a shoulder strap? How long? A cross body? Maybe a handheld satchel is more my speed. Or does it need to be convertible to handle all these options? Some women prefer a wristlet or clutch.
  • How much structure do I want? Soft and squishy, or more structured? What shapes do I like best? Soft and rounded? More angular? Taller than wide (North/South) or wider than tall (East/West)? Frequently there is a connection between angularity and structure, but lately there are structured round bags everywhere, and square squishy totes, so be sure to keep your structure and shape preferences defined.
  • What materials do I prefer? Fabric and PVC (even when called Vegan Leather) are, for the most part, less long wearing than leather. If you have issues with leather bags, expect to replace yours more frequently.
  • Do I have a hardware preference? I have seen a woman reject her (otherwise) ideal bag because the hardware was silver colored and she only wears gold.
  • What colors do I like best? What goes with the majority of my outfits? Do I want a bag that blends with, or stands out from my outfit? (Hint: A black or camel handbag stands out like a sore thumb on many women; a handbag in the same color as your hair goes with all your outfits, because you wear your hair wherever you go.)

If this seems like an awful lot of questions to ask before heading to the shops or to your computer, take a moment to think about what else you could do with the $25-$2,500 (or more!) one can spend on a handbag. (Movie, or family vacation…) Spending time thinking through what your ideal bag looks/feels/smells/carries like is well worth the time it will save you shopping. Think of it as the shopping equivalent of Measure Twice, Cut Once.

Do you have a favorite bag? Or did you, but it is no longer right for your life? Please share in the comments below!

 

            

 

AUGUST GIVEAWAY!

AUGUST GIVEAWAY!

To celebrate the launch of Closet Play Image (AND my acceptance as a Skilled Member of the Association of Image Consultants International — Woo Hoo!), I am giving away a Personal Style Consultation OR Wardrobe Audit ($300+ values) to one local winner to be selected at the end of August. The winner will be drawn on September 1, 2017. (Yes, Aiken is local. So is Grovetown. And Burke County! Even out Clark’s Hill Lake way…)

To help you decide which of my services would be best for you, here’s a taste of what the winning options include…

Personal Style Consultation

This comprehensive (3-4 hour) style consultation includes:

  • Personality, Lifestyle, and Values Analysis
  • What’s Working Now Breakdown
  • Physical Presence Awareness and Education
  • Somatype and Fabric Choice
  • Line and Design
  • Facial Evaluation: face shape, defining features, and other related aspects and includes recommendations for jewelry, necklines, hairstyles, makeup based on your unique qualities
  • Body Evaluation (No Measurements!): body shape, proportions, variations, clothing shapes to flatter your unique assets, what to avoid and how to camouflage, scale and how to use it to your advantage
  • Business and Social Dress Codes
  • Style File: your own customized 50+ page style portfolio with an overview diagram showing what to look for when shopping, and other reference materials for review
  • Mix and Match: a short session in your own closet, evaluating some favorite pieces and how to make them work even better for you

Wardrobe Audit

This 3-4 hour wardrobe review includes:

  • Personality, Lifestyle, and Values Analysis and
  • 3 hours closet work including:
  • What’s Working Now Breakdown
  • Piece by Piece Assessment (Fit, Potential, Modification)
  • Wardrobe Capsule Creation
  • Wardrobe Gap Evaluation
  • Shopping List for Future Purchases
  • Mix and Match: a session in your own closet, evaluating some favorite pieces and how to make them work even better for you
  • Closet Organization
  • Wardrobe Therapy File: your own customized 13 page style portfolio with capsule wardrobe worksheets and other reference materials for review
  • Removal/Donation of Unloved and Unwanted Items

How to Win

To enter, please comment below, and feel free to share with your friends! The more the merrier!

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

Imitation is the Most Sincere Form of Flattery?

The familiar quote above is from CC Colton, although others have said similar through the ages. In our social media (especially Pinterest) age, where are the lines between imitation, inspiration, and cultural appropriation?

Imitation and Inspiration

I will say flat out, that I have no answers here! This is all interpretation, unless you are dealing with patent law, and piracy, neither of which involve flattery, merely profit. For fashion or style, I define imitation as the the duplication of another’s look. Maybe, you are trying to duplicate one of Kate Middleton’s maternity looks for a baby shower. You find the same dress, and the closest possible shoes, but alas, you cannot duplicate the jewels! Understandable, so you go for a matching set you have that is similar. You are trying to recreate her look. That says imitation to me. Pre-teens do this all the time; I am sure most of us have seen two or three together, (sometimes more!) wearing matching outfits.

Inspiration works on a much looser principle. You like someone’s look, and you take something from that look, and make it your own. Maybe you use the color scheme, or the proportions, or the way she mixed her jewelry, but you do it using your own items, in a way that works for your personality, shape, and lifestyle. I have a client who loves Katherine Hepburn in her wide legged trousers and crisp white shirts, and Nicole Kidman’s modern interpretation of that same Elegant Chic. My client would be swamped in wide legged trousers, and does not wear woven shirts, but she takes her inspiration from the color combinations, and simple accessories they use.

Cultural (Mis)Appropriation

Talk of imitation and inspiration often leads to a discussion on cultural (mis)appropriation. This is a messy topic, and much like the author of this article in The Atlantic, I do not want to only live the culture of my Irish, German, and Alsatian ancestors; I would look silly running about in a dirndl and shawl. (Although a pint of Guiness would not be a strain…) I can see how taking elements from another’s culture, using them for profit, and not giving credit is a problem, as the author of this Thoughtco.com article elucidates. Years ago, I was astonished when a folk-dance enthusiast and instructor commented on a necklace I was wearing. She recognized it as an antique Kuchi Wedding Necklace (I think…) and asked how it came to be in my possession. She told me these necklaces were very special pieces, and rarely left the family. When I put on the silver necklace that was a gift from my mother, I was not pretending to be an Afghan bride. My mother saw it at an estate sale, and thought the craftsmanship beautiful; it is a work of art.  I wear it with that same appreciation. I appreciate its beauty even more, now that I know more about it.

Most of us are past the imitation phase in our lives, so, where do you find inspiration for your outfits? Please share in the comments below!

 

Passing a Trend By…

Passing a Trend By…

In our digital world, if you are a living body with a credit card, and/or internet access, you likely receive “newsflashes” about the newest fashion trends. You don’t need to be remotely interested in fashion for this to happen. Shop online anywhere just once, and the notices start coming. You may have been buying a power drill, and magically you end up on the “rugged man sale list.” If you browse online before going to your local brick-and-mortar, you probably receive sales and trend notices from them, too.  All the hype about trends can get exhausting! Regularly unsubscribing from lists can help you maintain your sanity.

Pick a Trend, Any Trend

Let’s talk about passing a trend by… I have at least 12 trend notices weekly in my mailbox, and that’s with a rigorous unsubscribe schedule! This week alone, one notice included: High-Neck Dresses, Striped Dresses, Plunge Swimwear, Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, Tropical-Print Dresses, Bell-Sleeve Tops, Backpacks, Maxi-Skirts, Espadrilles, and last but certainly not least, Off-Shoulder Dresses. Even if you have been living under a rock, you have probably noticed the Cold-Shoulder Top trend. (These are so ubiquitous that even my husband asked what was going on!) For the sake of argument, I will address the above-noted Off-Shoulder Dress trend.

Why Skip a Trend

There are lots of reasons to leave a trend in the shops. The Off-Shoulder Dress (OSD) is one bandwagon on which I will not be jumping. I think they are darling, but they don’t fit my personality, my figure, or my values. (Values and Personality are not the same thing… More on that another day.) (1) My personality skews to the more Classic side of Feminine, so the often ruffly tops of an OSD do not work for me. (2) I have yet to find a strapless bra that I am comfortable in for more than a few hours, and that actually defeats gravity in the way I need, so a strapless dress doesn’t work for my figure, either. (3) And last, and, most importantly, Modesty is one of my highest ranked Values, so the OSD doesn’t fit for me either. Please don’t get me wrong, there are lots of OSD’s out there that I do consider modest, but the way they tend to slide about and down makes me worry for the wearer! For me, that is three strikes against the darling OSD;  it shall stay on the rack for the right person. If a trend works for your lifestyle, personality, values, and shape, and you love it, run with it. Just make sure anything you take home you can wear in at least 3 different ways, please!

Nod to a Trend

So what if you LOVE a trend, but it just doesn’t work for you? There are often ways to finesse a trend and nod to it, but work it your own way. Maybe you are feeling daring, and want to play with the lingerie as outerwear look. I will not suggest that you head to the office with your bra on exhibit, or even go clubbing that way; celebrities make a living being outrageous, don’t risk your livelihood doing the same! How about a bustier or corset laced over a white shirt and jeans? That’s one way to nod to the look without risking an indecent exposure charge. Maybe you love Wide-Leg Jumpsuits, but getting in and out of the restroom quickly is imperative for you. (If you do not understand this, you have never had small children to care for.) Nod to it! Wear your wide legged jean or culotte with a chambray shirt and a denim sash. You’ll have the look and less restroom stress!

What trend are you loving now, or what look do you love and wish you could wear? Let me know in the comments below!

What’s Shape Got to Do with It? (Apologies to Tina Turner…)

What’s Shape Got to Do with It? (Apologies to Tina Turner…)

Before I start work with my clients, I ask them to fill out a questionnaire, to help me better understand them and find out with what they want help. One of the most frequent responses about a client’s goals is to learn to dress his or her Body Shape.

A Little History

The “ideal” body shape has changed dramatically over time., and differs from culture to culture. In western culture, for much of history, extra weight was a status symbol signifying that you were well off. You had more than enough to eat! Think of all those amazing paintings by Rubens. Botticelli’s Venus, as trim as she is, still sports a little tummy pooch. No ripped abs or muscled legs for her! Her attendant is a well-built woman, with thighs that could certainly be called strong and generous. The nipped and corseted women of the past may have been striving for the ideal of a tiny waist, but were still expected to be full elsewhere. So when did society’s obsession with thin begin? We most commonly associate the 1920’s with the beginning of the thin craze, but the boyish figure obsession of that era passed and in the 1930’s and 40’s curves ruled again. In the 60’s, Twiggy and the Youthquake brought the “skinny kid” figure  back into style, and we still struggle with an obsession with thinness today. If you have ever felt trapped in the wrong time for your body style-wise, you are not alone!

What is Body Shape?

Put simply, your Body Shape is your skeleton, and your silhouette. Your body shape is determined by your skeleton, most notably your hips and shoulders, and how they are related. This is (for the most part) determined by your genes and your environment when you were growing up. There is really not much you can do to change the skeleton you have. (Although, you CAN control the kind of skeleton you WILL have when you are 80, so please eat well, don’t smoke, and do weight bearing exercise!)

If you Google “body shape” you will find oodles of images, and geometric and object shape names! Brick, bell, rectangle, triangle, apple, pear, hourglass, inverted triangle, oval, straw, column, straight, spoon, diamond, and the list goes on. I am not impressed by being called a fruit shape, and even less so a brick. My training was with the amazing Imogen Lamport from AOPI, and I love her letter and number based system that leaves those negative word connotations behind.

The Basic Body Shapes

The basic female body shapes are I, H, O, X, A, V, and 8. Five of the shapes are balanced, meaning that the shoulders and hips are equal in width. This is NOT the same as being the same measurement around! This is a visual measurement across the shoulders and hips. The balanced shapes are I, H, O, X, and 8. Now you can be a plump balanced shape or a slim balanced shape, your weight is not relevant, here. The unbalanced shapes are the A, and the V. You can imagine an A having wider hips than shoulders, and a V having wider shoulders than hips. (Often referred to as a “swimmer’s body…) Again, you can be a curvier A or V, or a more slender A, or V. Every body shape has its benefits and challenges, and almost everyone I have met wishes they had a different one! Every body shape is beautiful, and every body shape can look amazing when properly dressed!

Next week we will talk more about figuring out your body shape, but if you can’t wait that long, contact me and I would love to get you started with a consultation!

 

 

 

 

 

Personal Shopping

Personal Shopping

Not Retail Therapy

I enjoy personal shopping with my clients. It’s not that I love shopping per se, but I see shopping as a puzzle to be solved, and a way to try out new ideas. You have holes or gaps in your wardrobe puzzle, and my job is to help you find the missing pieces. To solve the puzzle, I spend time getting to know you; I want to understand your personality, your values, your goals, and what you already own. This helps me to see the final picture the puzzle should make, and to make choices that are a good “fit” for you . (Sorry, the pun took over and forced its way in…) Your body shape and coloring play into the puzzle solution as well. I will probably stretch your boundaries, and ask you to try things you might never have given a second thought. I plan out our trip to make the best use of our time, and take care of many of the stressors of shopping. Your job is to come prepared, and with an open mind. I make no money from the stores we visit. I work for you, and want you to get great value for your money and have a wardrobe that makes you happy!

Fashion Feast or Fashion Famine

I shop all price points, from Neiman Marcus to consignment shops! My job is to know the trends, do the research, and find the pieces that will complete your puzzle and not break your budget. Fashion is fickle. Some seasons everything appeals, fits, and is fabulous for you. Other seasons there is nothing to be found, even under the most obscure rocks. Recently, I went on a personal shopping adventure in California with a lovely lady who was in the middle of a life transition: she was moving, changing jobs, and taking on new personal responsibilities. Being out of town, I couldn’t do much of the pre-shopping or planning I would normally complete before meeting a new client. She was ready to buy, but most of the items in the stores were not her personality, not her colors, and not her silhouette; we did find a few gems for her to buy in her sizes and colors on-line when she returned home. Afterwards, I sent her a Polyvore with ideas for her to use as she heads to the stores on her own.

I’ll Take a Friend

It pays to have someone along who knows you, your style, and your needs when you head to the stores with your hard-earned money. Many people take a friend to help, but that may not be the best way to get what works for you. As a trained professional, my job is to identify the best out there for you. Not what I like, not what I wish I could wear, not what the celebrity mags say is all the rage. In my client’s words “I loved your blend of straightforward yet kind, down-to-earth yet highly knowledgeable approach to coaching the way I see myself and wardrobe choices. I look forward to practicing another way of seeing in the days ahead.”