Archive | September, 2008

Sometimes you just let it go

30 Sep

In the last few days I have been encountered several times with clothes that I love, love, love. Unfortunately, they have been clothes that I can’t, can’t, can’t wear.  Why? Because they don’t work for my body.

I’m 5’2″ and my body shape is a modest hourglass. But I’m full in the thighs for certain. That said, between my height and my lower half, things that emphasize hips just don’t work.

Example: High-waisted, wide-legged, pleated trouser jeans or pants.

Unfortunately, even if I’m wearing heels, the wide legs of the pants make me look short and squat. I’m not particularly long-torsoed either, which means there is not a whole lot of room between the high waist and my breast line making me look even more squat.  Even though I love them, I have to let them go.

Example: Large puff or kimono-sleeved tops

I have a small frame with a small head and shoulders. If I wear a very voluminous garments on top, I look like I’m drowning in my clothes. I look overwhelmed and almost silly. That said, I have to be super careful in applying this trend (because I love these shapes!).  I have to be very fitted or tailored with whatever garment I pair a voluminous top. Or, I have to incorporate some structure to an otherwise fluid fabric and shape with a belt or tailored pants. But the default is usually, “I love it, but I have to let it go.”

Important Lesson: Not all things that are trendy look good on everyone.  Not all things we love are good for us in fashion.  Not all things we want will be harmonious with our inherent features.  Appreciate your body’s own natural lines and shape and work with it, not against.

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7 Personal Styles

7 Sep

There is a definitive science to every institution of study, including fashion. Within this realm of information lies the concept of Universal Styles. There are seven Universal Styles and each one has its unique set of strengths and inherent message(s) that it sends to our surrounding world.  Each of us falls into a one, probably two and sometimes a combination of three personal styles. Below is the 101 (source: What’s My Style, by Alice Parsons).

See if you can find yourself in one, two, three or even four of these!

SPORTY: friendly and casual

Messaging: Through this style, you’re communicating a friendliness, energetic, natural, casual, happy, and optimistic message.  Typically people who are all or mostly Sporty in style are easy going, unpretentious, relaxed, value ease in their wardrobe and are often in “people oriented occupations.”

Easily recognizable elements of the Sporty Style (not to be confused with athletic wear) are:

  • All American look with functionality, semi-structured characteristics in neutral (not striking or overly-bold) colors and patterns in natural fabrics.
  • Brands that exemplify sporty are: Polo, J Crew, Gap, Banana Republic, Ann Taylor, Old Navy, Timberland, Talbots, American Eagle Outfitters, Levis, Kate Spade, Lacoste
  • Celebrities that are Sporty:  Ellen Degeneres,  Rachael Ray, Jane Fonda, Meg Ryan, Diane Keaton

TRADITIONAL: Conservative and Businesslike

Messaging: Through this style, one is communicating messages of trustworthiness and loyalty, accuracy, credibility, maturity, responsibility, organization, and honesty. Typically those who fall into this category are in financialy, government, real estate, education, admin, or insurance-related fields. Easily recognizable elements of Traditional Style are:

  • A business-like image, always polished, neat and tidy; conservative with tailored lines, structured fabrics and shapes, in neutral and dark colors without a any “flash” or bold details.  (Think suits, straight trousers and blouses, skirts and classic shoes with no embellishments).
  • Brands that exemplify Traditional are: Brooks Brothers, Calvin Klein, Jones of New York, Talbot’s, J Crew (some), Pink
  • Celebrities that are Traditional are: Barbara Walters, Hillary Clinton,

ELEGANT: Refined and Stately

Messaging: With an Elegant style, you are communicating an air of confidence, flawlessness, timelessness, distinguished, grace and are always polished, restrained and dignified.  Those who fall into this category are often times in high-profile, public positions (PR, politics, etc.). There is an element of formality and prestige to this sense of style.

Easily recognizable elements of Elegant Style are:

  • Suits are a definite key element and clothing is simple and exceptionally-made.  Garments are elongated gently showing the female form with slight definition to the body
  • Colors are monochromatic or “tone-on-tone” and fabrics are lightweight natural, expensive
  • Brands that exemplify Elegant style are: Ann Klein, Donna Karen, St. John, Valentino, Armani, Ralph Lauren, Chanel, Pink
  • Celebrities that are Elegant are: Jackie O, Diane Sawyer, Audrey Hepburn, Kristin Davis (as Charlotte in Sex and the City), and Nina Garcia (Project Runway)

FEMININE: Soft and Romantic

Messaging: This style often projects a sense of lady-likeness and delicacy, is approachable, warm and caring.  Women who fall into this category are often good-natured caretakers, soft-spoken or mannered and have interest in more traditionally feminine activities and professions (teachers, nurses, counseling, intimate apparel or home-related industries).

Easily recognizable elements of Feminine Style are:

  • Loose hourglass silhouettes with modesty but still acknowledging the feminine shape, lengths are longer, colors are softer and pastel, light neutrals. Fabrics are soft and touchable, lightweight or cozy and patterns are floral, paisley, dots or can even have a “wallpaper feel to them.”
  • Brands that exemplify Feminine Style are: Eileen Fisher, Anthropologie, Laura Ashley, Jessica McClintock, Ella Moss, Free People, Betsy Johnson Nanette Lapore, (some)
  • Celebrities that are Feminine are: Princess Diana, Melanie Griffith, Nicole Kidman, Lisa Kudrow (as her character in Friends)

ALLURING: Sexy and Glamorous

Messaging: This style is captivating and sensual, flirtatious, and seductive. The woman who has this style is comfortable with her body, revels in her feminine shape, is bold and outgoing, loves glamour and is likely social.  They often fall into industries such as entertainment, fitness, media, or fashion/style.

Easily recognizable elements of Alluring Style are:

  • Fitted, body-conscious fabrics that make the figure obvious, hourglass silhouette with little or no detailing; colors are vibrant and rich and fabrics are stretchy/knit and can range from leather to silk.
  • Brands that exemplify Alluring Style are: Bebe, Versace, BCBG, Guess, Kenneth Cole, Diane von F
  • Celebrities that are Alluring are: Eva Longoria, J-Lo, Sharon Stone, Heidi Klum, Beyonce, Kim Cattrall (on and off screen)

CREATIVE: Original and Artistic

Messaging: Creatives are seen as imaginative and free, inventive, unique, spontaneous and sometimes quirky.  They often do work in creative fields or have creative hobbies and interest; fashion, arts, dance, stylists, writers, design, music, etc.  They take risks and their wardrobe is often a function of their creative urges.

Easily recognizable elements of Creative Style are:

  • Mixing of anything and everything, unpredictable or unique combination of fabrics, textures and styles. Garments can be layered, very colorful, and silhouette isn’t a focus but often a result of the combination of pieces.  Outfits often will have “themes”.  All patterns, textures, and colors are used in a creative’s wardrobe; no limits or restrictions.
  • Brands that exemplify Creative Style are: Betsy Johnson, Anthropologie, Agnes B, Issey Miyake, Nicole Miller, Jean Paul Gautier
  • Celebrities that are Creative: Whoopi Goldberg, Olson Twins, Madonna, Sarah Jessica Parker (as her character in SATC)

DRAMATIC: Fashionable and Sophisticated

Messaging: Dramatic dress is perceived confident and self-assured, assertive, bold, urban, powerful, fashion-forward, and have an intense attractiveness about them.  They have a commanding presence and are easily intimidating, charismatic and unapologetic in their dress.  More often, they populate the fields of entertainment, fashion, marketing, art, media, consulting, PR, etc.

Easily recognizable elements of Dramatic Style are:

  • Non-classic style but with some structured shape, exaggerated lines and silhouettes, colors are the darkest darks and lightest lights, saturated color with high-contrast combinations (black and white).  Garments are often large scaled and make “statements.”
  • Brands that exemplify Dramatic Style are: Karl Lagerfeld, Donna Karan, Christian Dior, YSL, BCBG Maxazria, Prada, Missoni,
  • Celebrities that are Dramatic: Kim Cattrall (on-screen), Iman, Paloma Picasso, Diana Ross

Let’s talk under garments

1 Sep

Say it with me: “Underwear.”

The most important foundation for a good wardrobe is undergarments.  Even the best of ensembles can be ruined by visible panty lines and the diabolical breast version of muffin top.  If you’re wearing a body-conscious top and your chest is sagging, you run the risk of looking heavier than you are. Heaven forbid you have a gap in the buttons of your blouse and your breast is peeking through!  Or, (gasp!) you sport fabulous new white jeans and out peeks two unflattering lines on your tush; now you have four cheeks! There are some things you just need to invest in – undergarments are one of them.  Here are my suggestions for some amazing undergarments that will lift and smooth.

HANKY PANKY PANTIES

Known for their one-size-fits-all stretch lace panties, Hanky Panky makes beautiful and comfortable panties that really do fit all!  They are sold in all major department stores, boutiques, and even some gyms with clothing boutiques on site.  They come in 20+ colors and beautiful patterns in thong (low and original rise), bikini, and boyshort styles (all shown below) plus versions with ruffles and embellishments. While they are a bit more pricey ($18-$22) and do require delicate treatment for washing (by hand or in the gentle cycle in lingerie bags), they always feel good, comfortable, and make me feel pretty and feminine no matter what I’m wearing.

WACOAL BRAS

While there are many, many wonderful bras out there that do miraculous things for womens’ numerous needs, my personal favorite is Wacoal.  Wacoal makes endless styles in beautiful colors and are known for their shape, structure, and ability to put the fuller figured woman into her place!

For the basics in your bra wardrobe, you’ll need:

Smooth bra for t-shirts and form-fitting tops. A smooth cup will look streamlined and clean underneath cotton, silk, and stretch shirts.

Push-Up Bra for low-cut tops (ladies please, nighttime or social wear only!)

Everyday Minimizer for full figures to work with any garment.

These are some basics and you can build from there based on your needs.  Choose a strapless for halters, cocktail dresses, or tube-tops. And finally, a pretty lace bra with underwear that can withstand day to day wear is a great add-on to your collection (for when you want to feel sexy for no good reason!).

I would suggest going to a department store and getting properly measured. More women guess incorrectly than accurately when it comes to their bra sizes. And, like jeans, there are countless cuts, styles, and fits so you should get advised on the right styles for you before you buy. Once you know your ideal bra, feel free to beef up your collection on sites like Bare Necessities or department stores with online lingerie shops.

Happy fittings!