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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Mature Fashion:Wardrobe Basics

Designing a functional wardrobe means first eliminating all garments that do not belong in the closet.  Twice a year, every year, I review every item in my closet to remove "obsolete items," (we will discuss what items you choose to call "obsolete" later).  Items that are worn out or beyond repair or no longer fit and cannot be altered successfully (or economically!!) are obviously the first things to go.  I make three stacks of these items; one for re-cycling to thrift stores, one of items to be altered, and one for the garbage. My ideal is to leave nothing in the closet that does not fit and is not in good repair. It also means I have something to wear for any occasion, and it also means that it looks good on me. 

Although it is time consuming, I also suggest that a woman also take the following two-part "second step" in evaluating the clothing in her closet. Personally, I want every garment in my closet to "add value" to my wardrobe.  The color, lines, and patterns should flatter my body type and personal style, and it must not only fit, but fit properly.  Many times, a pair of pants might "fit", but they would be better if taken in 1/4 inch at the hips, or the sleeve length is just a fraction of an inch off. If a color, line,style, etc., does not flatter my figure, it should be put on the discard pile; if it needs even a slight alteration to improve my appearance, it should go on the alteration pile.  (I am working on this improvement now-I do most of my own alteration, so I have several things in that pile!!).

Once this task is completed, it is time to make a list of what garments must be added to the closet and what must be replaced. The goal is to have a closet containing garments and accessories that can be worn for any occasion, for any season, and of sufficient quantity for each of the personal roles a woman plays. Each ensemble should flatter me, be suitable to the occasion, and I should feel wonderful about myself when wearing it. 

 There is no "right" number of garments, although there are some general guidelines.  Basically, it is my belief that a closet should contain two types of garments; the "core" wardrobe that a woman can wear year after year and form the framework of the entire wardrobe. Choosing one or two neutral colors for basic garments such as good quality pants, skirts, sweaters, and blazer/jackets that can be interchanged to form several different combinations is always recommended.  I try to have one or more of each type of garment in each of my "core" colors, and ideally, in each silhouette that flatters my figure type.  This silhouette variety allows me update a look easily from season to season. (we will discuss this in greater detail in future posts).

These garments are usually the ones called "timeless" or "classic".  They should be simple in design; garments that have minimal detail lines that do not "date" them.. I recommend mostly un-patterned, or if there is a pattern, it is very conventional design such a small or medium houndstooth, etc (based on one's figure type, of course).  

This wardrobe also contains high quality accessories such high quality handbags, shoes, gloves, scarves, belts, etc., all that work with the core wardrobe.  The second type are the "temporary" additions; simple additions of accessories and seasonal tops that are in the modern fashion mainstream.  I never spend much money on these items. In fact, almost always I purchase these items at thrift shops or on sale at department stores.  This is the number one reason I watch the upcoming season's runway shows as soon as possible.  I am already beginning the process for scoping out articles for next spring.  (Although it is two months before S/S 2017, Resort 2017 shows are available on; I believe these shows give valuable hints of what will remain on trend for Spring/Summer fashions and I have been inspired by several looks).

Remember, that wearing the same clothing different ways that reflect fresh fashion trends cost no money at all, and there is almost always on trend combinations within your own closet. You all know that I recommend shopping your closet first before making any expenditures. One of the most common ways to freshen a look is in the mix of colors.  F/W is strongly based on the neutrals camel and gray.  Camel is frequently paired with a strawberry pink or a wine/plum purple.  Grey is in pearl shade and worn with white or other shade of grey and/or camel.  Since I have a lovely camel blazer that I love but does not flatter my complexion, I always wear another color close to my face that does flatter.  I happen to own a lovely pink cashmere scarf that will compliment me personally and update my F/W "looks".  I mentioned in another post that I have been saving for a quality pair of cream white boots for the season.  That is expected to be the only major purchase I make this fall.  All other "temporary" items in the closet have already been purchased, and all for less than $75.00. Of course, every woman makes her own decision as to how many "looks" she wants for a fresh fashion trend.  I usually like five or six "new" looks each season to intermingle with my existing wardrobe.  When I know which ones I will add (or retain) for S/S 2017, I will discard S/S 2016  trendy items.  (I already think that I will eliminate four items from my closet that have an anchor in the pattern.  I have already got my money's worth out of them, and I will be looking forward to a fresh look for next spring.)    

Arrangement of a closet is a personal thing; whether by color, garment type, etc., what ever organizational plan works best for you, is the best one to use.  I wish I could say the closet on the left was mine, but it belongs to a close friend of mine.  I asked her permission to show this closet to you.  As you can see, it is a master of organization, designed (and I might add, built by her) exactly to her personal specifications.) Everything has adequate storage space for her wardrobe, and she keeps it that way.

The "right" number of garments depend upon the woman's needs, closet space, budget, and fashion desires. What is important is that she always has enough of the "right" thing to wear, and the ensembles makes her feel wonderful when wearing them!.  

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Mature Fashion: The Style Book

 If you do not have a strong fashion point of view,
or are unsure of yourself in identifying your personal look, you can get a sense of your type  by clipping photos of fashions on models from magazines or take snapshots of models in the fashion sections of department stores. You will quickly be able to identify what fashion style type(s)  you most prefer.  It then becomes a matter of choosing the garments within that type that have the design elements that flatter your own body type!  Voila!!  ..Do not worry if you like more than one; this is one of the ways you will be able to identify the "authentic YOU.  " For example, in home decor, I am a "modern baroque"..defined by me.  In fashion, I call myself a Whimsical Artistic Practical Classic. (A lot of words, but I know what I mean, and it suits my definition).

In addition to the four magazines on your left, I also subscribe to Vogue, Bazaar, and InStyle. I view the pictures in these publications to add to the looks I have already styled for the current fashion season. Many times I do not like the entire outfit, but I like a certain garment, or the way it is worn, and I file it in my stylebook to remind me to give it a try.

I also view on fashion runway shows for the future fashion season and print photos of ideas that inspire me. The picture at the left is one such photo that I have printed.  It is Look #9 from the New York Vanessa Seward collection and viewed on . (Thank You, Vogue!), a practice that I advise for every aspiring stylinista.  I printed this picture because I have a similar denim pair of pants and jacket.  The position of the rolling of the cuffs, the boot style, and way the scarf is tied is what inspired me for a fresh look of wearing garments I already have.  I also have pages that show a new look for the styling of basic accessories that I may need to style my wardrobe.  

I also highly recommend the fashion blogs.  There are several that I visit once a week (I follow them because (1) I want to hear what they have to say, (2) I may find a particular styling that I admire as a work of art.  The StyleCrone (Judith Boyd) always has imaginative ensembles that I would usually not wear because of my lifestyle and the roles I play (3) some of the blogs (NoFearOfFashion) have several examples of garments I might wear as inspiration using my own wardrobe.  The same principle apply as above; if the print option is available, copy it to your style book or Pinterest if you have a style board and can capture the picture. Some of the others occasionally have a styling that I know will work with both my look and my existing garments.

These photo reminders also make it possible for  me to look for bargain prices on garments or accessories before I need to wear the inspired outfit. (you can view looks for F/W 2016 on for accessories I have already chosen to wear  F/W 2016.) (not all of them are posted yet)   Knowing ahead of time what I will be wearing also prevents me from eliminating a garment from my closet that I may want to wear for another season. It is very practical for me, and allows me to make the most use of my closet space and wardrobe investment buys.

It is extremely important to remember that the pictures are for INSPIRATION, not duplication.  The model wearing the above outfit in my stylebook is about six feet tall, and probably weighs no more than 100 pounds. I am 5'3" (on a good day, and at 7:00 a.m.!) ..and weigh 131!!...and am 73, not the < 25 age of the model!.  Needless to say, even if my clothing pieces were exact duplicates, I would not look the same as the picture even if I wanted to!  I will drop the roll of the cuff a bit, add a hairstyle that adds the appearance of greater height, etc.  and wear touches that make it my own.  The picture is to aid in remembering looks I want for myself.  Most of the time it only takes re-thinking of the use of pieces already in my closet and/or the inspiration to choose a simple, inexpensive, but trendy final touch or two. 

One of the most important elements in keeping the closet "fresh" is choosing the appropriate accessories to complete a new "look".  Often the accessories are the "look". This is when and where a basic neutral classic ensemble can be quickly elevated from a boring, tired, dated look to a smashing fashion success within your lifestyle roles. (one such example is Look #3 on where I will use only the color spotted fur clutch to represent the entire "look".  I will wear a solid white top and bottom (uniform) as the background for the colorful and trendy purse; a very simple ensemble, quick, inexpensive, and  a very fresh look for garments I have had for a long time in my wardrobe.  

I find inspiration everywhere; in fact, too much.  My niece introduced me to Pinterest, a social media venue on the Internet.  I also automatically receive wonderful fashion inspiration daily from other bloggers, etc; more than I can ever use.  As I mentioned above, I also receive a weekly feed from the (Judith Boyd is one of the most imaginative and talented stylists I have seen.)  I can't wear most of the garments she models in her blog because the roles in my life do not support that type of garment very often; (if I did, she would be one of my models!  She demonstrates how wonderfully one can play with a fashion trend, and adapt it to her garments. She frequently wears the same basic garments but always has such a delightful twist and original accessories. 

Fashion icons are another marvelous way to refine and identify personal style.  Helen Mirren is mine; I have an entire board on her at Pinterest because our ages are about the same. Her styling reflects my taste, age, and over-all fashion "attitude."  She expresses my spirit. Who is your fashion icon?

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Mature Fashion: Why "Styling"?

Personal style is the way a woman looks at her own unique world; not the eyes of her trendy friends or the latest "how to wear..." from fashion merchandising professionals.  A woman's personal style expresses her external personality and what makes her unique from all other women. She expresses it in the way she wears her clothing, arranges her hair, applies her cosmetics, and in her carriage, posture, and "attitude"; an attitude that tells the world she is secure in where she fits into that world.  Just as most things of value take thought, work, discipline, and desire, so does having great personal style. 

Styling this "attitude" is one of the most frequently neglected area of a woman's life even though she may spend hours of time clothes shopping, make-up application, skin care, etc. Frequently there is no overall plan what-so-ever for handling the details to produce a specific result.

A woman who is aware and who wants to project her "personal best"  at all times needs to address styling the same way she handles her budget, maintains her living space, or other practical, day-to-day living skills.  She identifies the elements of her life style; the different "roles" she needs to play for her lifestyle. She recognizes what she wants to project within those roles. She then creates the costumes she loves that meet the needs of those roles. I call these women "stylinistas", much in the same manner as one would describe a professional aesthetician -a stylinista creates her own credentials. 

Personal style begins by a woman understanding her own body type, specific figure assets, the areas she wishes to camouflage, what design elements work for her and the ones that do not.   It also clarifies what makes her feel great when she wears it. 

This first step is essential to understanding that however much she might love a certain design, it may be difficult for her to wear; notice I do NOT say she can't or should not choose it!  For example, I had a friend who is very short (5' tall) and rather big boned.  She absolutely loved bold over-sized floral prints, especially those with fussy design details, and frequently wore them with little success.  Every styling rule that existed at the time told her she could never wear clothing with loud, large patterns and fussy large design details would overwhelm her.  She was advised to wear smaller prints which she did NOT LIKE but were more in scale to her body. She was not happy about this advice, but she felt she needed to follow the "rules".

We were attending the same styling classes and addressed this issue ( a legitimate problem-most of her large prints DID overwhelm her and made her look like the clothes were "wearing her")  in an off-line girl gab fest with a few other students.  Our friend decided that she would over-come the challenge.  She chose styles with the simplest design lines, monochromatic "uniforms", and limited her still very large patterned prints to one or two "statement"  motifs on the garment (s); i.e., a single large flower on the bodice and another on the lower pant leg.  She also made sure the garment background was neutral and the fit and silhouette were perfect for her body type. She had to be very careful with design lines, texture, and proportion.

For many years my friend wore this design combination.  It was often difficult to find but she managed; it became her "signature" look, and she loved her self when she wore it.  It was an authentic, personal style, and she always looked wonderful.  She hunted out accessories that balanced the motifs; she felt wonderful-and made her own fashion rules. 

In order to successfully style oneself, a woman must thoroughly understand her  own body and how to work with it.  She needs to understand her likes and dislikes from the fashion world and choose the clothes and accessories that reflect her personality and roles.  She needs to define the message she wants to send  and develop an assurance that she is sending the message that SHE is comfortable with.  She must know that her styling is appropriate for her  (her "rules") and the occasion.  She must have the level of confidence to develop the "attitude" that will almost always accomplish her goal. 

"Personal Style" is the whole package; it is the clothes and accessories and how they are worn; It is the hair, cosmetic application, posture and self-confidence; it is a healthy "attitude" of self assurance that will appeal to almost all people.  As Dr. Jennifer Baumgartner says, "You Are What You Wear", and you will be judged accordingly.