Bill Cunningham, Boatnecks, The last of the Summer Colors and the Hourglass

Bill Cunningham, Boatnecks, The last of the Summer Colors and the Hourglass

Bill Cunningham at Fashion Week photographed by Jiyang Chen

“Fashion is the armor to survive the reality of everyday life.” —Bill Cunningham

 My take on this quote was quite bleak at first!

#1 needing armor to survive everyday life tells me you aren’t  quite on the right path. From what I have read about Mr. Cunningham, this simply wasn’t true. He didn’t use fashion but photographed it, wrote about it and also was a milliner early in his career. He kept his own life as simple as possible, wearing the same thing every day and riding a bicycle around New York.

After reading more about him through his obituary and Wikipedia I would be more generous. I would now conjecture that he thought fashion was useful entertainment and statement as life moved on through time. Mr Cunningham sounds like someone I would aspire to be (without the daily uniform).

How about you? Is fashion your armor?

This week’s fashion detail The Boat Neck

A boat neck is a wide  neckline  from shoulder to shoulder which sits just below the collarbones. It can be square or scooped. It draws visual attention upward so it is a good choice if you need to visually create more width on the upper part of your body and/or lengthen the look of your neck.

Grape Compote Photo from Pantone 2020 Color Trend Report

Brilliant White – Photo from Pantone 2020 Color Trend Report

Ash – Photo from Pantone 2020 Color Trend Report

2020 Trends – more summer colors

2 neutrals and a splash

This week I want to share the last of the Pantone 2020 Summer colors.  I am loving faded denim and ash because they are nice neutrals for me. Which are your favorites and how would you wear them?

Hourglass figures 

The hourglass figure is defined as being equal width top and bottom with a very defined waist.  It is the shape that the eye finds most flattering and if you have an hourglass figure your goals is to not throw it out of balance!

Suggestions include  balancing an eye catching shoulder look like a boat neck with some detail down below and then don’t hide your waist!

While we often think of the hourglass as the perfect figure, they too have challenges and can’t throw on just anything without thought. 

So with your new knowledge in hand,  embrace whatever shape you have and experiment with different looks to see what feels good to you. Remember don’t wear it unless you love it.

Drawing of an hourglass figure

Play, Turtlenecks, The Blues, and Round

Play, Turtlenecks, The Blues, and Round

woman in a smock

When I put this coat on I feel like a creative person ready to paint or do some patternmaking

Play some dress up

If I waited for a proper occasion to get dressed up I’d never wear half of these clothes. Put on the clothes and you make things happen to match them. It doesn’t work the other way around.”
― Erin Kelly

What an interesting thought. The stay at home order here in my home town is starting to lift. Is it because I got out of my pajamas? JK but what happens to your mind, your body and your will when you stay in your pajamas all day? Are you really pampering yourself or just indulging in despair?

For me in the past a full day in pajamas would have been pampering. Now after many days of not leaving the house staying in my pajamas would be indulgent. Maybe not indicative of despair but indicative of wallowing in something.

Now is a great time to play dress up because no one is looking. Try it out. Put together some different dilemmas you would like to find yourself in and dress for the occasion. Play make believe just like when you were 3 and let me know if it was a good escape that created some new results.

This week’s style detail – the Turtleneck collar

I don’t need to explain why turtlenecks are so named. Put one on and you will see. When it is cold out it feels amazing to put one of these on and sink down into it.  A turtleneck is found on a pullover knit shirt. It folds over on top of itself. A mock turtleneck is more of a band and if you folded it over it would be really narrow.

Turtlenecks and mock turtlenecks can be worn in a variety of ways. Put one on under a blazer for a casual Friday look or wear one plain with a scarf, sweater or vest on the weekend.  How do you like to wear turtlenecks?

2020 Pantone Summer Blues

classic blue, faded denim, mosaic blue, navy blazer

One of these blues will look good on you. Blue is one of those universal colors. There is a tint, tone, shade or hue for everyone. It is a good color to choose for family photos, uniforms or wedding parties.  I am sure you probably already have one of these in your closet so no need to go out for more (unless you need it).

Style Lesson – Round Body shape

A woman with a round body shape has a mid section that is wider than her hips or shoulders. There is no defined waist. She usually has amazing legs to show off.

Color and design lines as well as layers are some ideas to play with for body balance. As with all body types, avoiding  horizontal lines right across the widest part of your body is a good place to start playing. Creating a V with design lines with the narrow part of the V at your waist is a trick to create a waist. Wearing items with detail at the hemline and neckline will also create the illusion of a waist.

Avoid giving up and putting on clothes that are too large and baggy just to hide. Instead wear clothing that fits properly and let yourself shine. Unless of course you want to- You have to love it!

Round body type

Need help creating your signature style?

Use your nose, mandarin collars, 2020 greens and Rectangles

Use your nose, mandarin collars, 2020 greens and Rectangles

How Using your nose can save the planet

“I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don’t have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?” –Anonymous-

And guess what? Washing less also equals less impact from your clothing on the environment. Since I rarely do out and out dirty work in my job anymore I have started to give my outer clothes the sniff test before tossing them in the laundry basket automatically.  If they pass back in the closet or drawer they go.

According to this article in Treehugger 75 to 80% of our clothing’s lifestyle impact comes from laundry. The average household uses 13,500 gallons of water a year doing laundry. Front loading machines cut that back significantly by using 7000 gallons less. Now imagine if you cut your number of loads per week in half just by doing the sniff test.  Hanging your clothes instead of using a dryer will cut down on electricity use (but maybe crowd your minimal living space).

Use the coolest temperature water you can. Heating water accounts for a large amount of energy use when it comes to laundry.

To avoid ironing, hang your clothing up immediately instead of letting it sit around balled up.

Reconsider dry cleaning. Avoid buying things that say dry clean only. If you are open to experimenting, many sweaters and delicates that say dry clean only can be hand washed.

Another bonus? Your clothing will last longer when you wash less often, don’t use the dryer or an iron and use cooler water.

And now if you run into me on the street I hope you will know me because I am smiling about not doing laundry and not because my sniffer isn’t as good as it used to be.

Clothing detail of the week -Mandarin collar

A mandarin collar is a subtle little  stand up collar that is  basically the stand for a collar without the collar part attached. It is typically narrow but can be wider. It is typically thought of as an Asian look because it was used on Chinese military uniforms. Related styles are the Nehru collar and the band collar. What memories or feelings do the Mandarin collar create for you?

These girl’s costumes have a mandarin collar

2020 Greens Biscay Green and Chive

Have you tried either of these colors? I could see myself in a pair of chive green hiking pants on the trail!

Body Shape for the week – Rectangle

In a rectangular body shape the hips and shoulders are equal in measurement and the waist is not clearly defined. This body shape benefits most from defining a waist. This can be done with a design line, belt or other detail that creates a waist. This shape benefits from adding width to the shoulders and hips so that the waist appears narrower. A peplum top with additional shoulder details would do this well.

 

Rectangle body shape line drawing
Stagnant or creative? Standard collars, summer reds and inverted triangles

Stagnant or creative? Standard collars, summer reds and inverted triangles

“Our dilemma is that we hate change and love it at the same time; what we really want is for things to remain the same but get better.” -Sydney J. Harris

Photo by Mauricio Livio on Unsplash

Has your life changed in the last 20 years? How about your ideas? Your residence? What’s hanging in your closet?

Is everything you believe true? I keep exploring my “beliefs” and discover they are just my thoughts but not everyone would believe what I think (especially my husband). Here is a deep down one I didn’t even realize I had: “Fashion doesn’t matter.” Now I know that is not true because not everyone would agree it is true.  Only things everyone can agree on are true facts. I now realize it helped me justify not investing time in self care and it helped me justify not caring about what I wore or how I looked.

It kept me stagnant. And what I wore 20 years ago does not help me look the way I feel now. It actually makes me look like I am stuck in the past and it makes me look old. Even though I am technically “old” I don’t feel old and I don’t necessarily want to look old (although it could be useful when I’m trying to cross the street).

To me old is stagnant, not creating new thoughts, ideas or actions.  I was headed down that path- doing the same thing every day the way I have always done it. Including wearing the same thing I had worn for 20 years.  It isn’t comfortable to try to find new paths and my brain resists it just like society seems to resist real change. How about you? Are you stagnant or are you creating new ideas, activities and brain paths?

Need help breaking out of your style stagnation?

Clothing Detail this week – A standard collar

One way Merriam Webster defines a collar is as a band that serves to finish or decorate the neckline of a garment. A collared shirt is simply a shirt with a collar. It can be any of the collar types we have already talked about or it can be the type of collar that is commonly thought of on a man’s shirt.  Medium in width with points in the front and attached to the garment by a stand (a piece of intermediary fabric) .  When you do an online search for a collared shirt you get a variety of shirts with either buttons down the front (button down) or polos (a v-neck opening that may or may not have buttons).  If your boss has asked you to wear a collared shirt, they typically mean a button down collared shirt.

Collars are a face framing feature and one way to make them stand out is to make them from a different fabric or color fabric than the body of the shirt. Collars are decorative although they may also have a function of keeping the neck warm. Collars typically make a shirt more professional and formal than an open neckline. A polo shirt is often considered business casual even though it has a collar.

Do you enjoy the look and feel of collared shirts?

man's button down shirt

Fashion trends

Pantone 2020  versions of red

Flame scarlet, orange peel, cinnamon stick, coral pink –They sound luscious.

Do any of these colors complement you? They are your red if they match the color of your fingertip when you squeeze it, the color of your cheeks when you blush or the color of your lips. 

Reds that blend with you will be the most attractive. Which one is yours?

line drawing of inverted triangle

Style lesson

Body shape – Inverted Triangle is the opposite of a triangle (imagine that). The shoulders are larger than the hips and the waist is only slightly defined as it tapers down to narrow hips and a typically flat butt.  The guidelines for balancing out this body type is to make the hips look equal to the shoulders and make the waist visible. Ways to experiment creating this illusion include brighter or lighter or print pants with more subdued tops. You would want to avoid styles that emphasize the shoulders such as halter tops, ruffles at the shoulders, cap sleeves or a color block that had a lighter color defining the shoulders. Flared skirts and pants would also help the illusion. V neck lines, narrow lapels and items that create a vertical line down the front of the body are flattering for most.

If this is your body type which of these guidelines have you found helpful and which ones do you break on a regular basis with success? Remember these guidelines are just a place to start and breaking the rules can create some splendid results.

Traceability Report, Portrait Collar and Summer Yellows

Traceability Report, Portrait Collar and Summer Yellows

“I like my money right where I can see it: hanging in my closet.” – Carrie Bradshaw 

What do you think of this quote? First instincts? It sounds joyous especially at first glance. That is part of what made the show so fun. Unfettered joy and drama in getting dressed up and shopping. A retailer’s dream show and shopper. Confetti. I wish I could feel it. But there is too much undercurrent in my thoughts to allow this to be my motto. More power to you if you can enjoy this much consumption. And if these companies that make these expensive clothes are providing quality and supporting all employees at all levels of the process from maker to seller with a supportive lifestyle including health care, a safe work environment and enough income to provide good safe food and shelter for themselves and their families then I am all in for paying the price.

I have never craved designer items – Quality might make my mouth water but not necessarily the name attached to it. And I certainly wouldn’t spend on a designer name unless it was quality or secondhand. Do you think new cars lose value as soon as you drive them off the lot? Well then the depreciation on a clothing item as soon as you take it out of the store would blow your mind.

I just did a quick search on the Real Real for Prada shoes. A low top Prada sneaker at Nordstrom retails for $590 to $620. On the Real Real a never worn leather sneaker is $225 and you can get a 20% off coupon.

Now let’s look at the traceability of their supply lines. I am not picking on Prada it just happens to be the first designer line that came to mind in my search. Before starting this article I really hadn’t done much research into them but now I am curious. I pulled up my copy of the  2020 Fashion Transparency Index and looked up Prada in the traceability scoring.

 

Traceability includes such things as:

Does the brand disclose where their final production factories are?

Do they disclose their processing facilities that are earlier in the game – ginning, spinning, embroidering, dying etc. ?

Do they disclose their suppliers of raw materials?

Do they do any tracing on their suppliers to make sure they are being told the truth? 

Then are they sharing verified information about these facilities including: 

The address of the facility

  • The types of products/services made in each supplier facility
  • Approximate number of workers
  • Sex-disaggregated breakdown of workers at each site
  • If the facility has a trade union
  • If the facility has an independent worker committee
  • % of migrant or contract workers
  • Name of parent company
  • The business relationship between facilities at different levels of their supply chain
  • If the list is available as a csv or Excel spreadsheet
  • If the list was updated within the past 6 months

I hope you can see why this information is so important to determining if a fashion supply house is just giving lip service to responsibility or really participating in making the world a better place.

Prada scored in the 11-20% range.  

You can get your own report and look up your favorite brand here: https://www.fashionrevolution.org/about/transparency/ 

So I’m sure none of this was on Carrie’s mind but if it was I am all in.

Photo from https://sexandthecity.fandom.com/

Organized dressing area

Do you have a clean organized closet?

Creating one is well worth your time. Doing so can help eliminate confusion in the morning, up your style game, give you a plan for shopping that will help eliminate duplicate purchases, fill holes in your closet, help you see what you really have and finally help save the earth. 

When it comes to closets I believe less is more. Evaluating your lifestyle in terms of what you really need to own in terms of clothing, evaluating your style in terms of how you want to be perceived,  and paying attention to what sorts of clothing brings a smile to your face when you put it on is the first step in culling. 

How many pairs of black pants or blue jeans do you really need? There are only 7 days in the week. If that was all you wore and you only did wash once a week then 7 would be the max (assuming you can’t wear them more than one day a week between washing). Do you keep going out and buying black pants? Why? Evaluate your lifestyle to see what you really need. 

Do the clothes you own reflect you the way you feel and want to be seen?  Having clothes with holes in them may be how you want to reflect if you are proud of the fact that you reuse and never buy new. A better choice might be to do an artistic mending job, alteration or remake so this wear looks planned and not inadvertent. If wearing clothes with holes in them is not a choice you are consciously making and you don’t want to repair, then get rid of them. Goodwill and other textile recycling organizations now take ripped and stained clothing and turn them into other items. They no longer need to go in the garbage. So get rid of them without guilt and try to buy better quality next time. 

When you look at the clothes in your closet, which items bring a smile to your face? Which items do you wear most often? Are there things hanging there that bring you grief instead of joy? (i.e. too small or last worn on divorce day?) Get rid of them. They are keeping you stuck. Life is short. Let’s have some forward motion. 

If you want to get started on your own, try my closet makeover plan for free. 

If you need help, drop me a line.

Fashion Trends

Summer 2020 yellows Saffron, lark and sunlight 

Yellow! Yellow! Yellow! Brings me joy. Please wear some.

Pleated Portrait Collar on 5th Ave Dress pattern

Clothing detail of the week- portrait collar

 

This vintage style collar is a face framing gem and attention getter. It is very large and wide. It is probably called a portrait collar because it frames your beautiful face and highlights your neck and upper chest. It can be sexy or subdued depending on styling.  The collar can be simple or ruffled. The same color or a contrasting color.

Try one out and be framed.

Triangle guidelines – always a guide NEVER a rule 

The triangle body shape is larger on the bottom than the top. To achieve body balance which is a trompe l’oeil  that creates a top and bottom that are equal with a defined waist, make the upper body look larger. This can be done with color – (like one of the 2020 yellows worn with a darker bottom) or print or it can be done with design details like necklines, ruffles, sleeve styles, seam lines.  The portrait collar discussed today moves all the attention up! 

As a general rule for every body shape you want to avoid straight lines across the widest part of your body. This means don’t have a hemline or color break across your hips which are the widest part of a triangle. Instead move that hem up or down to a narrower part of your body. Another option would be to make that hemline a diagonal or vertical that moves the eye up and down not sideways.  The design lines should always lead the eye to where you want it not where you don’t. 

Play around, try something new and have fun experimenting. Look at the items in your closet with this in mind. Are there some items you like? Could any of these guides be part of the reason?

drawing of triangle body shape