Updated: Aug 19, 2021
I’m writing this for the clothing clueless! Hopefully I will answer some of your how-to-dress problems in this blog and should you want more, then listen to me on Thursday mornings at 8.30 on 96threeFM for the month of May as I will be unpacking more. In addition to listening, in my book Un-frazzle & Re-dazzle, I go into some detail about how you can dress to look your very best every single day.
I wonder what is your dress-sense problem? Perhaps you look at your wardrobe and wonder what you can do to make yourself look and feel fantastic. Nothing jumps out at you. Or maybe you’ve put on a little extra here and there as a result of lock down and the fridge being oh so close. Maybe your budget is spent on the kids before you get to thinking about you and what you will wear. No matter what, you can still look amazing with who you are today and with whatever funds you have available. You just need some information.
I studied fashion in the 70s when Flinders Lane was the centre of the Australian fashion industry and when fashion was being designed and manufactured locally before it all went offshore. After my studies I worked in Australia and overseas in pattern making, designing, production and retail in women’s, men’s and children’s wear before I began teaching fashion design to tertiary students for many years. However, sometimes I feel like you too— 'what will I wear today?' But if you have some basic knowledge, you can know what suits your body shape and what colours work for you. Then your wardrobe will then reflect this, so the chore becomes much easier. Every day can become a good dressing day, no matter how you feel, as you fall out of bed in the morning. In fact, wearing the right things can make you feel a million dollars even if, like me, you love to shop at Salvos stores.
For now, let’s get started with body shapes, remembering that the beauty inside you comes from the confidence, strength, dignity and beauty from an inner knowing that you are loved by the Maker of the universe. When you begin operating from that position, you can shine for the world to see His goodness in you.
The body shapes fit into four approximate shapes: triangle, inverted triangle, rectangle and hourglass. The hourglass is the contemporary silhouette in the 21st-century, compared with the Victorian times when the silhouette was large and rounded and then later on in the 1920s when it was the flapper look— long and lean, before Twiggy gave us the longer and even leaner look in the 1970s. Our way of dressing and the prevailing silhouette that is supposedly desirable is simply a reflection of our contemporary society. I want to be a reflection of God but also to fit into our society, to win some, as Paul speaks about here:
‘…I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.’
1 Corinthians 9:22 NKJV
Do you want to be the best you can so others will want what you have? I do. So I try to look amazing each day for His sake.
For your body shape to resemble an hourglass (today’s prevailing shape): are you bigger on the top and small on the bottom? Or like me, small on the top and bigger on the bottom? Or are you more of a rectangle with a less defined waist? Or perhaps you are closer to the hourglass—shapely top and bottom with a nipped in waist. Whatever your shape, there are a few tricks of the trade to resemble the hourglass. For the bigger areas of your body, we want to deflect the eyes away by making them look smaller: by wearing darker colours, little details in the clothing, less texture, less pattern. For example, I’m smaller at the top of my body so I put all the interest in my clothing on the top of my body keeping my bigger bottom area dark and without detail, which means no stripes, no textures, no pockets and no bright colours. Essentially, make the bigger areas look smaller and make the smaller parts look bigger. This, hopefully, evens out the proportions. If you are an hourglass bring attention to your waist— it’s a bonus so show it off. If you are a rectangle shape, to create a waistline, wear either a raised or dropped waistline in a dress—these days raised waistlines can be a bit of a fashion statement.
Now to your colours: depending on your ancestry and skin pigment, your colour tone will be either cool or warm, which simplifies the colour coding system. If you have a cool skin tone, you are probably of Asian or Caucasian or African heritage. If you have a warm skin tone (or the traditional red hair and freckles colouring), you are probably of Scottish, Irish or Germanic heritage. To decide what you are, there’s more in my book to differentiate between the cool and the warm and a colour palette of colours to wear, in order to complement your skin tone. But for here and now, the easiest way for me to teach you a little bit, is to hold some fabric up and look in the mirror and decide if the colour makes you look alive or two steps out of the grave. Ha ha. I have a cool skin tone and I can wear black, white and the brights but don’t put brown next to my skin because I really do look like (a favourite saying of my mother's) ‘death warmed up’. However, if you have a warm skin tone, you can wear browns and creams and khakis. If you have a cool skin tone then white, black and colours from the cool colour palette, look better on you. So check out those colours in as natural light as you can get, with no makeup, hair pulled back (if it’s coloured, it could be camouflaging your real skin tone) and see which one makes you look alive or not. Stick with that palette.
Once you’ve got your body shape and your colours, now it’s time to do the wardrobe sort to declutter. This can be veryscary stuff. So try to have a friend with you, armed with refreshments to keep you going, as it may take several hours. Group the clothes in your wardrobe into three groupings: First are those items you’ve worn in the last 12-18 months (Covid19 extends this timeline a little to include more than the trackies we all lived in below the zoom level-LOL). These items are those that you feel good in, they fit you and are comfortable— they stay. The second grouping of items are those that you would love to put on but they require a button or a seam let out or a bit of mending, so put those in a pile ready to have alterations done. Thirdly, this next group of clothing items have not seen the light of day for 18 months or more, probably because they are the wrong colour. (‘Why did that salesperson persuade me?’) Perhaps they are the wrong cut for your shape or maybe they’re the wrong size. They need to find a new home somewhere else, not in your wardrobe so out they go into the Salvo's pile. (Who knows I might end up with your cast-offs?)
Now, this should be the fun part—shopping. But don’t rush it. Once you’ve culled your wardrobe, have a good analytical look, to see what’s missing. Do you need a nice black jacket or are you short on pants or do you need a few tops? It should have become very obvious what is needed. Make a list and put it in your purse but don’t go buying everything at once. Begin to purchase the items that you need, overtime, like an investment into you and your wardrobe. When you do go shopping, scan the shop for your colours and the items you need. This shortens shopping time considerably.
As you invest, think about each article as an important addition to, not only your wardrobe but your life. For items that last over several seasons like jackets, spend more money less often. For items that are more seasonal, like tops, spend less money, more often. Begin to look at your wardrobe as an investment in you, to make you look as good as you can, to shine His inner light, bright.
Remember that you are beautiful. And you can look even more gorgeous as you dress to suit you and your personality. Not like others but just like you!
To hear more of this listen to 96three on Thursday mornings for the month of May and if you do, there’s a great discount code that I will give on air to enable you to purchase my book Un-frazzle & Re-dazzle which includes more great info and a link to check out the colour palettes.
More on this-96three FM, 8.30am Thursdays.
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