Sunday, August 21, 2011


Or... "What do all those 'how-to dress' books mean when they're talking about dressing like a 'romantic bohemian' and what does that have to do with *me*?"

What they are talking about is your style of dress.  You will have noticed that policewomen and gypsies don't dress the same way?   And that some policewomen suit their uniforms and some look uncomfortable?  Yes.  Good.  This is what they're talking about. 

Some - even a lot - of what "style of dress" you end up with is determined by the shape of your face, the shape of your body, and your occupation.   I'm writing primarily for housewives, but let's face it... if you're taking a part-time job at the bank, it doesn't matter if you prefer to wear your hair loose and bangles up to your elbows, when you go to work, you're putting on a nice blouse and slacks or a fitted skirt.  You'd keep your sense of self (if allowed) by perhaps wearing a bolder print on your shirt and *one* bangle. 

Face shape, bustline and shoulders determine most of what collar options look best on you.  Go through a style book - or a sewing book, my Vogue book has a very completely list - and look at the options.   Fine tune by grabbing a camera and a friend and draping one of your neutral colors around your face, roughly in the shapes of the various necklines.  (Camera use, especially now that we don't have to develop the pictures or even keep them, is a *wonderful* tool.  Mirrors can lie!)  You'll find some you resonate with and some that you don't.

That gets you started on finding your style... you know necklines, you know colors... now what?  Well, now you experiment.  You'll soon find certain looks that please you and some that don't.  And you'll get surprises!

My daughter surprised me, because I couldn't imagine anyone born of me that would look good in uniform.  Small necklines, peter pan collars, neutral hues... well, my 7yo works them.  It's... startling.  That's not her main look, being that she's a 7yo girl and doesn't have to wear it, but it's something that she sometimes enjoys.  And most of her things look better a bit tailored.  (She's working the 80s retro look so hard that it makes me blink, and that is largely an edgy uniform look).

I, on the other hand, look entirely out of place in uniform.  I like flowing lines and bright accessories.   I don't do a full-out bohemian, because so seldom in my life am I in a place that suits an armful of bracelets - and I'm short, so a billion accessories overpower me.   I would call my look clean and romantic, with a natural edge.  You're never going to find that in any style book!  You *have* to find your own look.  Start with the basics and work up.  Experiment and play.

And that's where a lookbook comes in handy and where a camera comes in handy.  Create a lookbook - make a big  pile of looks that you resonate with.  Try a few things in your wardrobe on that look similar, take pictures.  See what works and what doesn't.  Figure out how to incorporate those looks with your occupation, and go from there. 

Then you can name it, and then you can understand it, and then you have a great starting tool when you shop or when you sew.

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