Know thyself, fashionista

I like clothes.  A lot.  I wouldn’t say I’m a shopaholic, I would say I’m a great apreciator of the art of style.  Not fashion, that changes.  It’s fun to throw in some trendy stuff but I have a deep love of the classics.  I can’t get enough of trench coats, sheath dresses, perfect flats and pointy heels, bags that are the exact right blend of slouchy soft leather and structured sophistication, oversized pashminas, round Jackie-O Sunglasses…and the list goes on.

If I were to truly indulge myself I would be broke, all the time.  So I don’t.  I try to be a smart shopper and always know what I need in my wardrobe, how much I’ll wear a given item, and can then calculate the cost per wear and see if something a little pricey is worth it.  Often it is.  Since clothes are the first communication you will have with most people even before body language, they need to say the right thing.  I want my wardrobe to tell people that I am capable, confident, and know what works for me.  You may want to say something different…the trick is to know what you want to say and how to say it.  Wearing trendy ripped jeans and a bejewelled hoodie tells people you’re cutting edge and layed back…but if you’re a lawyer and wearing that to work, it’s not the best message.  I find most people have no idea what they’re communicating, and a little help in that area would go a long way.

Out in the world (it really doesn’t matter where), what I most often see communicated is confusion.  I would love, love, love to help clear some of that up.  Learning how to dress yourself for clarity of message is a process, but I can offer a few easy tips right now on things no woman should be confused about.

Your body type.    There are four basic types, and they apply whatever weight you are: hourglass, apple, pear, and tube.  Sometimes they’re referred to as different names, but those are the basic four.  Think of where you gain weight first, and that should tell you your type.  Hourglasses and tubes will gain evenly (so hourglasses stay curvy, tubes stay tubelike), Apples in their stomachs, Pears in their hips, butt and thighs.  Knowing what you are will help you choose clothes that play up your good parts and downplay your trouble areas.  So if you’re an apple, don’t choose a top with ruffles on it; you’re simply drawing attention to where your weight is.  Pears, don’t wear skinny jeans.  And no one should wear big tenty pieces that hide your body.  The goal is to create your ideal body with the structure and illusion of clothing, not to hide it or enhance what you don’t want to enhance.  It’s a sad fact that garments that tend to be “oh so comfortable” look like crap, because they provide no structure or lines.  Know your body type!

Your Colours.  When I was about 15, we were on a family outing at the Vancouver public library and I found a book on draping.  I took it home and poured over it for weeks.  I named myself a warm autumn (I was more tanned and had my natural hair colour then) and looked for warm colours to wear.  You don’t have to go this far, it’s a bit restrictive.  Just know which colours look best on you.  They’re the ones people tend to compliment you in that don’t make you look ill.  Remember black is not every girl’s best friend, even though we tend to think of it as being good for all skin tones.  Know your colours.

Your life: the way it is.  Of course you need to dress for what you do; if you’re a stay at home Mom who spends most of her time at soccer practice and who’s more likely to be found at the grocery store than a charity dinner, there’s no sense in stocking your closet with gowns.  Most of us have 3 or 4 primary activities to dress for.  For me it’s work, the gym, leisure time like dates with my husband, and events like weddings and charity galas.  So if I don’t have clothes for these four things always on hand, I’m not very prepared.  Know what you do and buy clothes for that.

Your Life: the way it should be.  And then there’s the life you wish you had.  Being practical all the time is incredibly dull and sad.  There’s something powerful about dressing for the more that you want in life.  It makes me shrivel up inside to hear women say “I LOVE that dress…but where would I wear it?”  They invariably walk away from the clothes, and the possibility.  Sometimes you have to buy the dress, and look for a place to wear it.  Sometimes you have to be Carie Bradshaw crazy and spend your rent on shoes.  I’m not advocating irresponsibility…or maybe I am.  Not as a way of life, but as a departure from how depressingly casual we’ve all gotten.  Have lovely events and parties disappeared from middle class life because we don’t wear the clothes anymore, or was it the other way around?  In any event, I see clothes as a way of bringing back a little magic to our lives.  Dress for the life you want instead of the life you have, and see where it takes you.  Amazing things are just waiting to happen!

 

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