My favorite is when you're rushing around in the morning, your entire goal to just not be naked. You've no style or fashion concerns on your mind whatever. Without your knowledge, the outfit fairy twanks her magic twanger BOOM You look down and you're wearing a great new look! Of course, i've spent enough time and effort obsessing about style in general, and my own wardrobe in particular, to realize it's nothing to do with kismet. It is everything to do with planning planning planning.
But it sure feels magical when it happens! How paradoxical is it that achieving effortlessness does indeed require a commitment to a significant amount of effort? This ensemble goes to another topic that's been on my mind quite a bit recently, especially since I won two books by Kendall Farr in a You Look Fab contest. The package arrived about 3-4 weeks ago and i have been reading both books every single day since. Ms. Farr is full of incredibly useful ideas and inspiration, and her writing style and wit make taking it all in a breeze. From my ego's standpoint, it doesn't hurt that she espouses many ideas which i've also found to be integral to personal style.
One of these concepts is the importance of dressing to flatter your individual physical person. Staying true to this principle has a many positive effects. For one, you'll always look great! More to the point to this look, you will severely limit the colors and shapes in your wardrobe. I'll admit that many many fashionable people will be aghast at my last sentence - we want options, variety, up to date, new new new! But there are those among us who feel overwhelmed by the vast variety of offerings available, and who will be happy to have an easy way to cut through the fluff and get straight to the good stuff. Even better, choosing only items that flatter your person naturally creates an individual color and shape palette wherein the great bulk of clothing works together effortlessly. How does this come about?
Let's take color as an example. Three characteristics determine whether or not colors 'go' or can combine pleasingly to the eye. These are temperature (warm vs. cool), saturation, and similarity of tint-shade-tone.*** Warm colors 'go' with warm and cool with cool. Colors with a similar degree of saturation (strong or weak colors) 'go' together. And colors with a similar degree of tint, tone, OR shade go together. In the jacket and blouse i'm wearing here, all of the colors are warm, they are all fairly saturated, and they are all tones (overwashed with grey). True pastels all go together because they are all cool to neutral, are very lightly saturated or 'weak', and are all tints (the base color is heavily diluted with white). Follow the embedded links for definitions and examples of these terms, or search the web for more information. If you take the time to train your eye to recognize these color characteristics, finding and combining your colors will suddenly make complete sense.
As it happens, temperature, saturation, and tint-tone-shade also determine which colors look most flattering on you. Therefore, sticking to your best colors will result in a closet which mixes very well. The same principle goes for shapes. Adhering slavishly to these principles allowed me to toss on two items bought six years apart, from different stores and different designers, and look put together and even current.
It's easy to take a look at this approach to wardrobe building and wonder, "Where's the room for ME?!?!?" It sounds terrifically restrictive - but it's not. Subtle variations of shape and silhouette, details, pattern, echoes of various times and places all offer tremendous opportunity for expression as well as contributing so much to your personal style. It took me about five minutes to find these variations on a theme. Each of these coats has a defined waist and shoulder, a collar, and is a strong, neutral-to-cool red.
Even with these narrow guidelines i could find coats ranging from simple and clean-lined, through military-style, to ruffles and bows, and one straight-out bombshell trench. I hope this demonstrates that even within some pretty strict guidelines a vast amount of individual expression is possible.
Do any of you have strict, 'do or die' guidelines you follow when choosing new items for your wardrobe? Or do you take a more inclusive, spontaneous approach to filling your closet?
*** temperature: warm colors tend to have yellow or red undertones, cool colors tend to have blue or green undertones. At the same time there are cool yellows and warm blues (turquoise is a warm blue)
saturation: the amount or strength of the 'color' or hue in a color. the red coats are all very saturated, there is a ton of 'red' in the color. My sandals are at the 'weak' end of the saturation spectrum - are they oyster, or bone, or cream, or......? The 'color' is just not saturated enough to really tell!
tints, tones, shades: these are all 'pure' hues or colors with something added. tints are color with white added, shades are pure hues with black added, tones are color with grey added. This illustration is very helpful.