When i took my hiatus from this blog, one of the things i wanted to focus on was how i would present to you some of the ideas and concepts which have helped me find and hone my personal style and wardrobe. This is especially important to me because i've yet to run across most of these ideas on the internet, and i've found them so useful that i want to get them out there to you!
Today i'm introducing my 'outfit analysis checklist' ('checklist' for short). I use this checklist for many purposes - to discover what i like and don't like style-wise, to discover likely ways to expand on my style or adapt it to different situations, to pinpoint my shopping lists, to hone in on what will work for me while shopping (since i've nailed my own style & know how to enlarge upon it), to figure out what i need to learn more about style-wise (color, line, etc.)
I also have used this checklist many times to create a 'formula', 'rule', or 'recipe' that i can use to shop my own closet for new outfits. I analyze a look of mine that i really like, and come up with my 'rule' from the results. Then i use this 'recipe' to shop my closet for new looks that have a similar underlying structure to the original inspiration. In addition, looking at my wardrobe in a new way often results in new, great looks which have nothing to do with my 'recipe' - this process sparks creativity.
I used this checklist to analyze one of Cynthia's outfits - the one in this post. Her first line in this post reads, 'I totally enjoyed what i was wearing today.' That's the type of look that's worth putting this kind of work into! My hope was that i would discover enough about Cynthia's personal style that i could suggest new outfits to her that she liked and truly enjoyed - that felt like her. As it turned out, i found that Cynthia had put together outfits that fit my 'rule' with no information from me - this casual look contains a large scale print, a small scale print, and the pants are a solid color. All three garments are blues. But did Cynthia like it? She says, 'This is one of those swishy, happy outfits that derives some of its awesomeness from movement and does not show up as well in stills." Here's another all-blue ensemble with a medium-scale print (the tee), small scale striped cardi, and solid color jeans. Cynthia doesn't say much about the clothes, she was having a rotten weekend. But she looks great! And here's the link to our first outfit collaboration.
Interestingly, as i studied Cynthia's wardrobe i realized that she could do more with detail than she has until now. I thought she could take any garment with nice detailing, label it as larger or smaller scale, and then just plug it into the 'pattern' part of the formula. She beat me to it. This look contains a large scale print on the (completely achingly fabulous, by the way - looking at Cynthia's wardrobe in depth was no pain at all) red/white/blue skirt, a small scale ruffle detail on the dark blue blouse, and a solid black cardi. Here Cynthia pairs a military/safari style olive drab jacket (large scale details) with a medium scale detail/pattern tee and solid color neutral dark browny-green pants.
These examples gave me confidence that i'd actually discovered something about Cynthia's style, instead of just imposing my ideas on her. I hope she feels the same! In fact, this post will be the first time i've shared my methods with her - she's just received a list of possible outfits to try. In the video i recorded for you, i give an overview of this checklist, some definitions of the checklist items, and explain more about the process of using this list to create more outfits. I plan to publish at least one post on each checklist item, with definitions, vocabulary words, examples, and resources where you can find out more.
(If i seem distracted at moments during the video, it's just the cat.) Please let me know if there's anything you'd like me to expand on or explain further. If you have an outfit you feel great in and you want to 'figure it out' so that you can create more outfits with a similar flare, leave me a comment or send me an e-mail! This material is pretty dense, but it's less so if you just focus on one element at a time, or only on the elements that you're interested in. If you're bopping around style nation, just spend a little time on your favorite blogger outfit of the day - what's the silhouette? how many colors? does she use one pattern or more? Little by little is how you increase your knowledge and experience. Thank you so much for reading and watching!
Grit and Glamour, Vahni's site
Checklist with Definitions:
Silhouette: how a garment is shaped, including fit and any 'fashion' fullness such as a bustle or gathers at waist or shoulder.this includes neckline, shoulder, and hems (sleeve, top, tunic, skirt, dress, pant leg).
Color: how many colors are in the outfit? are they saturated or pale, a tint or a shade, warm or cool? how do they relate to each other on the color wheel - are they opposites, triads, or...?
Pattern: any design printed on or woven into fabric.
Detail: any three-dimensional embellishments - collars, lapels, epaulets, gathers, pleats, pintucks, cuffs, buttons, zippers, pockets, etc.
Drape: how a fabric hangs and falls. dependent on fibre, weave, weight.
Texture: smooth, shiny, metallic, rough, fuzzy, furry, and so on.
Style References: these can be to an era (1920's, 1940;s), a nation (German lederhosen, French beret, Mexican sombrero), occupation (sailor, cowgirl), to a certain fashion designer (Coco Chanel, Dior's New Look), or to trends of the current day.
Accessories: any jewelry, scarves, handbags, etc. Since barefoot people have no influence in society, i consider shoes as part of the clothes more than as an accessory. Use your best judgement.
Checklist of Cynthia's January 19 Outfit:
Silhouette: classic to classic-relaxed. indicates the contours of the body, but nothing tight or baggy.no strong waist definition. Natural shoulder. Neckline neither too tight or revealingly low. Sleeve hems between elbow and wrist, skirt hem around knee.
Color: two 'colors' and two 'neutrals'. The 'colors' (red and blue) are both saturated, clear, and warm. The form two 'corners' of a triad on the color wheel. The tee stripe is a warm grey/ivory neutral. The boots are a warm brown cognac, which can be read as a 'neutral' or as the 'third corner' of the color wheel triad (yellow) with the red and blue (due to the strong yellow undertones of the leather).
Pattern: two patterned pieces, the cardi and the boots both are a solid color. The pattern of the skirt is very large scale, colorful, low-to medium-contrast. The stripe of the tee is small scale and low contrast.
Detail: pretty absent. mostly fastenings (buttons on the cardi), tho the boots do have nice decorative buckles.
Drape: not too clingy, not too floaty, not too stiff.....medium.
Texture: The boots have a nice finish to them with a bit of shine, there is almost a hint of shine in the cardigan, but the rest of the outfit is matte. Nothing feels dull, just enough shine to make things come alive (the boots).
Style References: the pieces feel current, nothing is dated or trendy. The cardi, tee, and boots are classic. The skirt has a wonderful ethnic, folkloric, eastern european embroidery feel to the floral pattern.
Accessories: one small, beautiful pendant. There is enough pattern and color in this outfit that accessories are almost superfluous (it is fun to think about what that bee would get up to in those huge flowers!)
The 'Recipe' derived from this outfit:
For a look comprising a top, bottoms, cardi or little jacket, and shoes or boots.
Color: Option A: two pieces will each have a different color, while the rest of the outfit is composed of neutrals (black, white, denim, grey, navy, any color so dark it's hard to tell what color it is).
Option B: two-three pieces will be variations on the same color (robin's egg blue, denim blue, navy), whilte the remaining pieces will be neutrals (black, white, denim, grey, navy, any color so dark it's hard to tell what color it is).
Pattern: one piece will have a large-scale print, one piece will have a medium-to-small scale print, the remaining pieces will be of a solid color.