Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Because... getting dressed should be fun!

Tag: dressing

2017’s Top 5’s

2017’s Top 5’s

NB: Some of today’s images were found in my Camera Roll. Apologies for their ultra-amateur nature!
As an Image and Wardrobe Coach, lots of people ask what are my favorite pieces. I’m not always sure why, because my favorites are not necessarily going to be someone else’s favorites. I have written about how I find Must Have lists problematic, and what my personal Must Haves are, and thought it might be a good idea to look over my Camera Roll from 2017 and figure out if my faves correlate with my Must Haves! There are lots of missing days, but between my phone and Stylebook app, I hope to find out what my real workhorses were in 2017.

I should probably explain… This list will look really ordinary! I have a very structured (some call it “boring”) wardrobe, built around a small color palette. This approach doesn’t work for everyone, and certainly not for many of my clients, but it’s how I like MY closet to work. My neutrals are Grey, Navy/Denim, and White and my accent colors are Pinks/Wines, and Turquoises/Teals. I get my sartorial kicks from playing with accessories: shoes, scarves, and jewelry. So leaving out the kicks (another post, maybe?), my most worn basics in 2017 were:

Tops:

Bright Navy Linen Blouse (no collar)

This and the same style in white listed below were clearance purchases from Talbot’s a year or two ago. I love linen for our hot summers, and can live with the wrinkles! The blue is fabulous for fall when I want darker colors, but still need cool. This with my white jeans is a three season go-to, and I can work different looks just by changing the accessories…

3/4 Sleeve Gathered Waist Chambray Shirt

A consignment shore purchase in 2016(?). I was unsure how I would like it, but it is the one shirt I am always impatient to get back from the wash. (It inspires me to iron, and that says a lot!) In general, I am not a collared shirt fan, but mine has a Y-neck and gathers under the bust that make it a more feminine choice than your average chambray shirt. I wear it with trousers to take them down a notch, over a sheath dress to make it look like a skirt, and with jeans when I’m feeling it. This shirt is a three season piece and will stay in my winter capsule and move into spring to rock the denim on denim trend that will be hot again in 2018!

Teal Gathered Neck Blouse

One of my fall/winter purchases, the green flatters my skin and eyes, the loose fit lets air circulate, and it gives the color I crave in fall and winter. To top it off, it has 3/4 sleeves, which are a must for me. It was one of my Baker’s Dozen Capsule pieces and went right from the laundry back onto my body. No ironing necessary! I wear it with any of my trousers and jeans, and expect that when it finally dies, I will be one sad woman… (If anyone at Loft is listening, you could make my shirt again!)

Confetti Spot Shell (Wine/Pink/Grey)

This is a another Talbot’s (sale) item bought in the fall, but it became an instant favorite. It is lightweight and airy, and the wine background makes it great for our warm falls and winters. The bright pink splashes give it life, and in our recent cold snap, I’m loving it over a turtleneck. It’s a little apron-y styled like this, but in a good way.

White Linen Blouse (no collar)

I am a hot mess, so what am I doing with a white shirt? Well, it can be bleached, and that sorts out most of my problems. And a white shirt goes with pretty much everything, as long as it’s your white, and doesn’t create contrast issues. I love blue and white, and grey and white for hot weather. They may be neutral combinations, but they feel “cool” to me. Most people splash into brighter colors in the spring and summer, but I work in reverse… I wear more colors in the winter, and more neutrals in the summer.

Bottoms:

White Gap Jeans

Purchased last spring to replace an old ill-fitting pair that taught me how practical white jeans can be, this pair wears like iron. As stated in the white shirt review, I am a hot mess, but bleach can sort a multitude of sins, and so can a little white chalk. These are a 3 season wonder, too, and I even regretted putting them away for the winter, but expect that will make me even more happy to see them again in the spring. They work with every top, and were a backbone of my fall Baker’s Dozen Capsule. They will look cute with my new confetti spot shell, and I just hope I can fit back into them by the time March arrives.

Skinny Jeans

An inexpensive pair of Levi’s (Denizen) from Target, they have more spandex and are thinner than I like a jean to be. Although, this does make them perfect for our hot summers, and the weight gain I have been plagued with this year. I love them for travel, as they are comfortable to sit in for road and plane trips, and that alone is enough to earn a spot in my closet. They will stay in my wardrobe even if they aren’t faves, just because they are so darned practical, and are the only jeans that still fit comfortably. (Arrrgh!) I wear them with any of my blousy tops, to balance the silhouette.

Levi’s 501’s

I love, love, love my old Levi’s 501’s, but they are just too heavy for most of the year here. Last spring I cropped them and left the raw edge to fray because I was not buying a new pair of jeans at some ridiculous price for the frayed look that I wanted to try. Once the weather warmed up, away they went to be broken out again for my winter capsule, and they are making me so very happy. I love the frayed crop with a short boot, ballet flat, or wedge. It feels extra casual with an edge, and just the other day, a woman stopped me to ask where I got my “cool jeans.” Go figure! (Here’s that chambray shirt, too!)

Blue Cropped Kick Flare Trouser

I picked this fave up at Banana Republic a few years ago before the one at our mall closed. (And a sadness came over the land…) I wore them about twice a week for more than a year, and put them away this winter. We’ll see how I feel about them come spring, and if I can even squeeze into them. I love the sass of a kick flare, and how they give a little more air circulation than a long trouser. The only drawback to these is that they are dry clean only.

Little White Dress

This was another clearance item a few years ago at the Gap. It lived in the back of my closet, unworn for months because I couldn’t work up the courage to wear a white dress. (What’s with that?) Then we took a trip to Hawai’i. All sorted. I wore it there, and then had no reason not to break it out regularly. With wedges, sandals, jean jacket over it, belted if I’m feeling sassy, loose if it is hotter than blue blazes. It’s a perfect foil for jewelry, and a colored shoe. Another bleachable white natural fiber. Thank you Clorox!

Not very interesting sounding are they? So, how do these Top 5’s compare to my personal Must Have list? Not very well! To be fair, many of my personal Must Haves fall into the accessories side of the clothing camp, and the above list is only tops and bottoms. Only one top made my personal Must Have list, a white knit top. It hung unloved in my closet this year while the white linen did all the heavy lifting. Maybe I should edit my list, but as you will find “the perfect white shirt” on almost every other Must Have list, I don’t think I’m too far off! As for bottoms, my personal Must Haves included a Narrow Trouser. My Kick Flares are narrow every other way, and so are my white and skinny jeans, so I have that one covered. My Little White Dress fits my Day Dress Must Have perfectly. I might even be able to stretch my Chambray Shirt to cover the Denim Jacket listing… If so, I did cover all my clothing Must Haves!

Do you track what you wear? What are your most worn pieces, and are they your favorites? Or do your favorites fall into some other category? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear your thoughts…

 

 

Building a (Wardrobe) House

Building a (Wardrobe) House

A lovely woman named Victoria (in a Facebook group I play in) likened building a wardrobe to building a house. She had been having trouble because she had been buying all kinds of lovely things, but still didn’t feel like her style was growing. Then she realized those beautiful accessories were like the throw pillows, and paintings in a house. Until you have a foundation and walls, and furnishings, all the trimmings in the world won’t help! I loved her analogy and asked to borrow it. With her permission, I am going to push the analogy further to examine how a wardrobe is built. Thank you, Victoria!

The Blueprints

Your blueprints are what determine how your house is built. Your wardrobe blueprint is your plan. It should take into account your terrain (your body shape), your budget, and your needs. Your needs are determined by your lifestyle, values, and personality. Choosing a palette can help give your plan definition.

The Foundations

I’ll be lazy here and let Foundations be foundations. Your underthings. Here I include panties, bras, camis, socks and hose, and myriad other bits. Shapewear, too, if that’s your thing. As frilly and flimsy, or sturdy and practical as you like

The Structure

The Structure is the studs, plumbing and ductwork that hold your house together and make it liveable. Your wardrobe Structure is the basics you come back to day after day. These are the workhorses of your wardrobe that you can always count on. For one woman that might be jeans and a tee, for another–a skirt suit, another–a dress. They are usually simple pieces in solids. Your basics should be versatile and comfortable. (No, that does not mean all yoga pants.) A wardrobe full of Structure pieces will keep you protected and covered (like an empty house) but get boring very quickly.

The Furnishings

At home, the furnishings are what make your structure livable. You could live in an empty house, but it’s much more comfortable with beds, tables, and chairs! Your wardrobe Furnishings are different from Structure pieces. You might think of them as wardrobe Heroes, pieces that definitely stand out. It could be the color, cut, pattern, or detailing that makes an item a Furnishing item rather than a Structure piece. Frequently tops, and statement accessories fill this category. You don’t want to wear them day after day because they are quite memorable. A wardrobe full of Furnishings with no solid Structure leaves you with a closet of nothing to wear. (Kind of like a room set up outside… It may look fabulous, but you don’t want to be sitting there when the rain comes!)

The Decor

This is the place you can get into trouble, or be a really easy way to revamp your look. At home it’s throw pillows, bedding, artwork, and knick-knacks that you choose to spark up your home. This is often where we indulge our personalities and quirks. If your furnishings are bright and complex, you may keep the rest of your decor items pretty simple. Or you may be like Iris Apfel, and everything is over-the-top. You wardrobe Decor pieces are your Accessories: shoes, scarves. jewelry, hair baubles, watches, purses, even phone cases.

Remodel

Most of us don’t start from scratch and build a whole new wardrobe.  That is usually reserved for those poor souls who have lost everything due to disaster. The structure is there, the foundations are solid (or may need some shoring up), but most of what we are doing is a remodel. Maybe you have outgrown your old style, or are simplifying. To remodel, you still start at the beginning with a plan, and then work through the list to see what you can still use, and what needs repairing or replacing. And if you want, you can always call in a contractor. I love to help with wardrobe remodels!

What is your favorite piece of clothing? Is it Foundation, Structure, Furnishing, or Decor? What do you have too much of? Or need more of? Please let me know in the comments below! I love to hear what you have to say…

H Body Shape

H Body Shape

Previously, I have talked about the 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 AX, 8, I, and V. To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not. The first three (A, X and 8) are waisted shapes; the V may have a waist, but the I does not. Today’s shape is the H, and like the I is a balanced shape without a defined waist. Many women who were 8’s when younger, find themselves becoming H’s if they put on weight with menopause.

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

First, let’s determine your Balance.

The best way to determine your body shape is to 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, or the outer thigh. If the line you draw is perpendicular to the ground, or straight up and down, you have a balanced shape. If your lines angle out or in, you have an unbalanced shape.

Next, let’s see how you are waisted.

First look at your waist on your photo. If you are very waisted, you may see a dramatic gap between the side of your waist on the photo and the vertical line you drew between your shoulders and hips. For most women, the best way to tell whether your figure is waisted or not is to wrap a ribbon around your ribcage below the bust. Hold the end in place and slide the ribbon down to your waist. Bend sideways like a teapot to find the spot I am talking about! If you have to draw the ribbon in to measure around your waist, your shape is waisted. If the ribbon stays the same, or needs to be let out, you have an unwaisted shape.

H’s are a balanced, unwaisted shape. That means that an H’s hips and shoulders are the same visual width across, and the waist is not pronounced. Frequently, H’s are short waisted. Famous H’s include Princess Diana, Julianne Moore, and Anne Hathaway.

H’s What to Wear

H’s generally want to avoid drawing attention to the waist area, but prefer to focus attention on the bust and above, or to the legs. Keep detailing, like appliques, designs, or seaming on tops at the bust or above. Dresses and tops with princess seaming to lengthen your middle are flattering. Vertical patterns, like striping on tops, elongate the middle as well. Jackets with strong vertical lines, seaming, front opening, and lapels are also a good choice. Keeping with one color (monochromatic) from shoulder to hip prevents attention focus on the middle. Interesting hemlines, and border prints on skirts are great for H’s. Attention getting shoes and boots are also fun, especially for taller women.

H’s What to Avoid

Since the ribcage is the smallest part of your waist area, a horizontal here may seem like a good choice. Even though an empire waist is great, the gathers that usually fall from it are not, as they add bulk to your middle. Traditional denim jackets and other cropped styles create unwanted horizontal lines through the waist area. Stay away from gathered and pleated waists, cinched dresses, and tucked in tops. Stark color contrast at the waist is to be avoided, but a dark under layer with an open light colored topper can camouflage a thicker middle. Make sure tops skim the body, and do not cling. Belted coats and jackets are not the best choice.

When You Love It Anyway

You love the belted look that is everywhere this fall and winter, you can finesse it by wearing your belt under a jacket, and over a column of color. You get the visual effect of the belt, and the visual effect is shortened by the open edges of the jacket, creating an illusion of narrowness. Your favorite top is a blousy empire waist? Tame the volume and create vertical lines with a more structured jacket on top. If you must wear a trench coat, leave it open, or draw the belt to the back. Tailoring, like for all other shapes can be your best friend! Buy bottoms to fit your waist, and have the hips and thighs taken in to remove excess fabric.

We have almost finished the body shape identification posts. Have you found yours yet? What are your struggles? Please let me know in the comments below!

What Makes an Outfit Work? (Part 1)

What Makes an Outfit Work? (Part 1)

Have you ever seen someone dressed and think That’s amazing on her, but I could never wear that. So, what makes an outfit work? (Or NOT work?!) When I pull together an outfit for a client, my goal is for it to:

Reflect Your Personality

This is one reason an outfit may be perfect for one woman and feel like a costume on another. I was working with a client a few weeks ago who loves a Relaxed Feminine Creative “boho” look, but feels like a clown dressed so. It didn’t take much digging to discover that she is also an organized and responsible woman with a need for structure and routine. The “boho” outfits she was trying to create were leaving out all the Classic in her personality. When we added a little structure to the flowy, or a touch of “boho” to a more Classic look, she felt like herself, or at home in the outfits. It is important to encompass ALL the pieces of your personality when you dress.

Work with Your Personal Coloring

We have all been given a set of colors that flatter us and make us look our healthiest. You may be saying, I’ve never had my colors “done” so I don’t have colors. You have colors, whether you recognize them or not. They are the colors given you by God, or if you prefer, determined by your DNA. You have been gifted the perfect colors for you, and these change throughout our lives as our natural coloring changes. Our skin and hair softens and lightens in color as we get older (often starting in our 30’s), so the colors that looked amazing on us at 25 are probably not the same colors we look best in at 50, and those are different than the ones that will best suit us at 75! More about color terminology, here.

Harmonize with Your Color and Value Contrasts

Is your personal coloring neutral (hair, skin, and eyes) or colored? Maybe you are a combination of both. A man or woman whose personal coloring is very neutral (e.g. blonde hair, brown eyes, and neutral skin), will be most flattered by outfits composed of neutrals, or outfits that are monochromatic (one color), or made from colors closer on the color wheel. Often the bloggers who look amazing in their all neutral capsule wardrobes are those neutrals women. Maybe you are highly colored, with red hair and green eyes. Then make sure your outfits are comprised of two colors along with any neutral you are wearing. The goal is to have you wear your clothes, not to have your clothes wear you!

Value contrast is determined by the lightest and darkest colors of your person. Snow White, with her very dark hair and fair skin is a classic example of high value contrast. Cinderella is a lower value contrast princess, with her blond hair and fair complexion. Think about their signature outfits. The high contrast of Snow White’s dark bodice and bright skirt. reflects the high contrast of her natural coloring. Cinderella’s varying shades of light blue reflect the much lower value contrast of her personal coloring. Getting our value contrast right can make all the difference, and can “cover a multitude of (style) sins”!

Flatter Your Body Shape

One of the biggest struggles for women is that our bodies change throughout our lifetimes, sometimes repeatedly! Pregnancy and nursing, and at the other end, menopause, create a state of flux that can be frustrating. We may have known how to dress our pre-babies body, but now, extra weight from pregnancy, car-pooling or desk-sitting makes dressing a new challenge that we simply don’t have time or mental energy to research. Menopause can take a stylish woman by surprise when body parts start shifting along with the hormones. Our body shape is based on our skeleton, and how our weight is distributed on our bones. Knowing your shape doesn’t tell you what to buy (That’s your personality’s job!), but it does tell you where you want (and don’t want) horizontal and vertical lines, and details to draw attention to assets and away from your less loved characteristics.

When you take some time to get to know yourself inside and out, pulling together a great outfit becomes easier every day. (And dressing can become fun again!)

What outfit do you feel most confident and yourself in? I’d love to know! Please share in the comments below!

 

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

I Need a Hero! (AKA: I’ve Got Nothing to Wear!)

Do you stare into your generous closet and think “I have nothing to wear!”? Some days we are lacking inspiration, but often we have a Heroes/Basics imbalance. Every closet needs both, but when we have too many of one, and not enough of the other, it can be hard to get dressed.

What’a a Hero?

A Hero is a standout piece. It could be the color, cut, or details that make it a Hero. Maybe it’s an artist’s print on a shirt, or a white shirt with dramatic pleating or ruffles all around the neckline and hem, or an oversized pair of cropped trousers. A shocking pink pair of suede pumps can be a hero, as can a bold necklace. You might collect ethnic jewelry that piled together makes a Hero. What kind of Heroes are you drawn to? I have been told that my clothes are boring. I’m okay with that, because I am happier in clothes that are Basics, and love Hero accessories. That’s just part of my personal style. Others prefer Hero clothes, and more Basic accessories, and some like both.

Too Many Basics

When your closet is filled with Basics and not enough Heroes, dressing can be a bore. Think about a recipe with chicken, rice, and broccoli. There’s nothing wrong with the ingredients, but there’s no pizzazz. To give the meal flavor, you need some spices, or at least some onion and garlic! An outfit of all basics with no Hero lacks focus and interest. If your closet is full of Basics with no Heroes to provide the spice, you can feel like there’s Nothing-to-Wear.

Too Many Heroes

Too many Heroes in an outfit gives us the opposite effect. Instead of no interest or focal point, we can have competing focal points. This kind of outfit distracts us from the person in the clothing. There are some people who have a gigantic personality (often Dramatic or Rebellious) and look perfectly themselves in these over-the-top outfits, but they are the exception rather than the rule. The inimitable Iris Apfel is a woman for whom there is no such thing as too much! A closet full of Heroes can be hard to mix and match, and leave us feeling the same Nothing-to-Wear angst.

Finding Your Balance

One rule of thumb is to make sure you include a Hero in every outfit to prevent the snooze factor. Some people wear more than one hero, but keep them corralled to a particular category, like adding Hero accessories to an outfit of Basic clothing, or Basic accessories to Hero clothing. It takes some experimentation to find your comfort level. Taking a good look in your closet and identifying your Heroes and Basics is a great place to start. If you have no Heroes, it may be time to pick up one or two, and if you have no Basics, you may need a trip to the store as well, but beware! Stay focused on what basics will bring out the best in your Heroes. Pick a Hero out of your closet tomorrow and build your outfit around it by adding some Basics, and wear it all day. You might find that you have a lot more to wear than you thought!

What’s your favorite Hero? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you to Katherine at Not Dressed as Lamb for the link-up!

 

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Dressing Stressing to Blessing (Turning Lemons to Lemonade)

Monday morning can be a challenge for anyone. Here are 10 ways to make dressing less stressing and more of a blessing,,, Just try one. And then maybe add another next week. And maybe another after that. Who knows what might happen?

1)  Lay (or hang) out your clothes for tomorrow when getting ready for bed. Check your calendar and the weather, first. (This also lets you know whether or not you need to shave in the morning!)

2)  Keep photos of outfits you love in a folder on your phone for days that you forget #1! Or make sure you have some go-to Outfit Recipes.

3)  Do your laundry before your work week begins. (No more “Arrrgh, it’s in the hamper!”) Smaller, more frequent loads are a lot easier to fold and put away.

4)  Pull together some Beauty Bundles to make accessorizing outfits easier.

5)  On your “weekend” choose a small cohesive capsule for the week, and dress out of only those clothes. Fewer choices means less stress (Try 4 shirts, 3 bottoms, 2 toppers, and a dress.)

6)  Next time you go to the hairdresser, ask about a cut that works WITH your hair’s natural texture, rather than fighting it.

7)  Time how long it takes to do your makeup in the morning. Simplify your routine to 5 minutes, MAX!

8)  Get all the out of season clothes out of your active closet and into a storage box. If your closet has room, separate out of season from current season items.

9)  Keep a lint roller in your car; then it doesn’t matter if the dog or cat loves on you on the way out the door.

10) Limit your color palette (for any season) to two neutrals, your white, and two accent colors. Careful choices here will give you a mix and match wardrobe! Think Garanimals for grown-ups…

What other tips do you have for turning dressing stress into a blessing? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

X Body Shape

X Body Shape

In a previous post, I talked a bit about the different women’s body shapes, and how body shape has to do with your skeleton, and with how your “meat” is attached to those bones.  To determine body shape, we look at the shoulders and hips, and their relationship to each other. We also look at whether the waist is defined or not. There are 8 basic women’s body shapes, 5 balanced and 3 unbalanced. The X is one of the balanced shapes with the shoulders and hips of the same width. This is another feminine, curvy, (and desirable) shape!

Put Away the Measuring Tape!

The best way to determine your body shape is to 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 is perpendicular to the ground and your waist is defined, you are an X or an 8 shape. The difference between the two can be subtle, but the difference in how to dress their shapes is enormous!  Both are often referred to as an hourglass figure, so how do you tell if you are an X or an 8? An 8 has a high hip shelf, and an X usually has a smooth transition from the waist to the widest part of the hip. X’s are frequently long waisted, and 8’s are frequently shorter waisted. 8’s are more prone to love handles, and X’s are less love handle prone. (Marilyn Monroe was an 8; Sophia Vergara is an X.)

X’s What to Wear

If the goal is to create a balanced figure, you X’s are blessed because you already have one! In general, drawing attention to the waist, with a waistband or belt is a great look for the X. (If you are busty, you may choose to skip this advice, as drawing attention to your small waist can make your bust look larger.) Wrap dresses are amazing on X’s (Thank you, Diane von Furstenburg!), as are wrap tops. Fit and flare dresses are custom made for the X as well. A-line skirts are fabulous for your figure, as are straight or trouser leg jeans, especially if they zip up the side. If you are self-conscious about your curves and don’t want to show off your waist, at least make sure that your tops and jackets are shaped, or princess seamed. Properly placed darts can make you look 10 pounds thinner in an instant!

X’s What to Avoid

Losing the waist can make an X look heavy. Avoid blousy or oversized tops that hide your waist, and boxy tops and dresses. Long straight jackets are less than flattering on an X, and double breasted pieces often just make the X shape look bulky. Stiff fabrics often create extra visual weight that the X may not want. Avoid ending your tops at the widest part of your hips. Make sure jackets are belted, or nipped in at the waist. Even a drawstring on an anorak makes a difference! On trousers, avoid tapers, cuffs, and embroidery on the rear or thighs.

When You Love It Anyway

It may need altering. X’s often struggle to buy trousers and jeans that fit. There are more curvy-girl jeans than ever out there, which has made the hunt easier, but if you are still having a hard time, buy your bottoms to fit your hips, and have a tailor take in the waistband. You don’t need the bulk (or discomfort) created from belting a too large waistband to keep your pants up!

Another option for X’s is to belt it! This fall belts are making a comeback, so you X’s are in for a treat! Coats and jackets are showing up with self-belts, and leather belts over coats and blazers are everywhere, so you can make even shapeless garments work better for you!

A note about alterations… Unless you are employed as a fit model, assume that everything you buy will likely need alterations, and include them in your budget. Many women (and men) can’t be bothered to have their clothes altered to fit properly. Or maybe I should say they won’t pay to have everyday clothes altered to fit properly. Dresses for special occasions get special treatment, but why only them? Those special occasion pieces will be worn once or twice. Life is a special occasion! Shouldn’t the clothes you wear everyday fit you beautifully, and make you look good everyday? You deserve clothing that fits well and makes you feel great.

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!

 

Beauty Bundles

Beauty Bundles

I love the ever amazing Brenda Kinsel, and the versatility of what she (and many others, now) calls Beauty Bundles. A Beauty Bundle (BB) is a group of coordinated accessories that can be used to add a punch to a variety of outfits. Think of them as accessory families. Now don’t panic. A BB is not fixed; you don’t have to wear all the pieces at once, and there is no set number of pieces required. You probably have some at home already…

(Please forgive my extremely amateur photos… They were taken years ago, for my own reference, ages before I ever imagined I would be blogging!)

Color or Theme?

Often, BB’s are thought of as a way to add color to an outfit, and they can be a great way to pop your neutrals, or add a second color to an outfit without feeling like you are dressed like a clown. If a Beauty Bundle is an accessory family, think of the bundle’s DNA as what makes it hang together. That DNA could be a color, or a theme. I have a polka dot problem (no there is no support group available, yet!) and pulled together a polka dot bundle. No, I would not wear all my polka dots at once, but I would mix up two or maybe three! Maybe you feel a little rebellious some days and need a Rock-n-Roll Bundle. One summer, feeling a little sad that a trip to Capri was not on my itinerary (A friend was going and I was extremely happy for her, as well as a little jealous), I pulled together a Capri beauty bundle. In my mind’s eye, that meant turquoise blue, gold, and white, and a boho luxe flair. While she was away, I joined her (in spirit) on her trip by wearing items from my Capri bundle each day. Crazy? Probably, but it made me happy, and when we did sneak off to the beach later in the summer, I packed my bundle, and that long weekend became my Capri!

Packing with a Bundle

Which brings us to one of the ways Beauty Bundles can be most effectively used. Packing! I love to travel, and will throw together a suitcase at the drop of a hat. Weekend away is one of my favorite phrases in the English language. A BB, whether by color, or theme, can help a suitcase full of basics turn into a customized travel wardrobe. Imagine my Capri bundle on the left packed with white jeans, a white tee, a denim shirt, a turquoise tee, and a chambray sundress and a swimsuit. You would be dressed for days, with very little in your bag!

Pulling Together a Bundle

Since color is the easiest place to start, head to your closet or drawers and choose a colored accessory. It could be a pair of shoes, a scarf, a handbag, or jewelry. This is your starting point. Now look through your other pieces and see what else you have that shares that piece’s color DNA. Look everywhere. Bandanas count, too! Take a snapshot of your bundle, and next time you put on jeans and a white tee, add two or three pieces from your bundle, and see if you don’t feel more polished.

Mood Dressing

Mood Dressing

Control Freak?

When I suggest to people that they choose the next day’s clothing the night before to save time and stress in the morning, the most common reply is “But what about my mood? I may not feel like those clothes in the morning! Then I’m starting all over again.” I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic, but who’s in control in that situation? Are you in control of your mood, or are you letting your mood control you? If you have been up all night long with a sick child, and are now going to the doctor instead of work, I understand you need easy, wash and wear comfort clothes. Go change. The suit and pumps you chose last night aren’t going to cut it for the day’s activities!

Dress for How You Want to Look and Feel

I would posit that on 90% of the other days, you don’t even really know what kind of mood you are in (except the Need More Sleep and Coffee mood) when you get dressed in the morning! To be honest, I’m not sure I want to see what the Need More Sleep and Coffee outfit looks like… The problem with letting your mood control your dressing is that moods are temporary. They flit from one place to another, up and down all day long. Do you really want to drag a lousy morning mood along with you all day? I suggest that dressing for how you want to look and feel is a better choice. Studies by a UK researcher in the showed that when people wear superhero shirts, they feel more likeable, and test subjects wearing white coats (doctor-type) do better on mental agility tests. What we wear affects not only how others perceive us, but how we ourselves feel and behave.

Try it for a Week

So, let’s do some science! Make yourself the subject of a dressing experiment. Take two minutes at bedtime Sunday evening to lay out or hang up your clothes for Monday. Repeat each evening. (I know a man who does this on Sunday for the whole week! That’s a bit much, even for a planner like me…) See if your mornings aren’t less stressful. Then come back and let me know how your experiment went. Please do, I am insanely curious!