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

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
Part 2- Swimsuits and Body Image

Part 2- Swimsuits and Body Image

Last week I shared a video about those little voices in your head that stop you from being your best or can even stop you from thinking about putting a swimsuit on. If you missed it, you can find it here.

This week I  give you some ideas  for how to change those messages and a few more tips that I hope get you excited about finding that perfect swimsuit.

Finding a great swimsuit starts with the right attitude and the right silhouette. You can find my free guide to the best suit for your body type here.

You will also want to  consider the 7 items below when you are trying to find the perfect suit in the store or online.

  1. Fit – Get the right size. When ordering online make sure you know your measurements for bust, waist and hip and compare them to the store’s size chart. The sizing for women’s clothing is not standardized. You may have noticed that a size 14 from one store is not the same as a size 14 from another store. It is also helpful to know if your torso is shorter or longer than average. Your vertical proportions will help you with this and you can also check to see if the store’s sizing chart mentions a measurement from your neck to waist and compare it to yours. This measurement is taken from the base of your neck where it meets your spine to an imaginary horizontal line that crosses your waist. If you are buying a swimsuit like the Miracle suit, then you may want to go up one size from your normal dress size or you may end up looking like an overstuffed sausage.
  2. Coverage and breast support – Depending on your size and age you may appreciate a built in bra to hold your breasts up. I also appreciate not having my nipples show through the suit if the water happens to be a little chilly. I also want my butt cheeks covered so I look at how much coverage there is in that area of the suit. If the model’s butt isn’t covered it’s a sure bet mine won’t be
  3. Why am I buying a suit? Am I just going to be lounging around the sand or pool? Then I probably don’t need to worry about the straps or how it stays up. But obviously that changes if I plan to do any jumping, diving or lap swimming or even just play with the kids in the water.
  4. Quality really does matter in a suit. A swimsuit is subjected to sun, chlorine and damp situations- the perfect environment for textile destruction. Feel the fabric. I prefer a thicker fabric for my swimsuit. I also look inside at the stitching and make sure it is nice and solid with no skipped stitches. No need to have a wardrobe malfunction at the pool or beach. Some suits now come with built in UV protection so if that is a benefit to you look around for that in your search.
  5. Color – You might be tempted to go with black because it can be slimming but black can also be aging. If it’s not your color learn what is. Navy and purple are flattering to most skin colors and can also be slimming.
  6. Prints – If you are larger you can get away with a larger print. Small prints would look silly. And vice-versa, if you are smaller you can get lost with a larger print.
  7. Cover ups – Does it have a coordinating cover up or do you have something you can wear with it to get from home to the beach or if it gets chilly? An over sized white shirt and a coordinated sarong could be an easy answer especially if you already have them.

 

Here comes summer!

Here comes summer!

My favorite season is around the corner. I love summer. I grew up in Michigan and was surrounded by lakes to swim in. As a youngster I would get to swim all day while my mother cleaned the homes of the “summer people”. It is surprising she let us because she was terrified of the water. We took our swimming lessons in the “ice tea” water of the river.

As a teenager I drove around with a swimsuit, floatie and towel in the trunk of my car and never missed a chance to jump in the lake. That swimsuit didn’t take up much room because it was a little orange bikini. When I was a teen it didn’t really matter what I wore, I thought it looked great. Now I find myself looking at bathing suits with a much different eye. I want a bit more coverage for lots of reasons. And I want some substance to it so there isn’t any jiggling! Funny how what we think about ourselves and our bodies changes over the years.

When I went to college one of my room mates wouldn’t go swimming because she couldn’t stand how she looked in a swimsuit. I felt so sorry for her but didn’t even realize that not going swimming because you hated how you looked was a possibility let alone have any idea how to help her

50 some years later, I have created a video about those messages we send ourselves. I believe hearing them is the first step to changing them. Next week I’ll share some tips on changing them.

For now I invite you to dream about what you will do in whatever swimsuit you get. Maybe you will just lounge by the pool in the warm sunshine, or kayak down the river, or waterski or actually swim! Those days are coming and finding a swimsuit that lets you comfortably do those activities you love is the first step. Did you know you can save some grief in the fitting room by knowing what style of suit will work best with your body type?

You can snag my guide to swimsuits by body type here.

Swimsuits are made from some of the least environmentally friendly fabrics there are so getting one that you love and would love to wear until it wears out is one way to save the earth. Taking care to rinse out the chlorine right after you use it and gentle washing will extend the life.

You may get lucky and find something at a thrift, vintage or consignment shop and if you do I admire your diligence.

I found this article from The Good Trade with links to several swim manufacturers using recycled plastics for swimwear. I plan to try Summersalt when my current suit wears out.

Summersalt also had a quiz to shop for certain features (including butt coverage and torso length) by size to help you choose a swimsuit.  And pricing was quite reasonable.

I hope to be in the water enough this summer to wear out my suit. How about you?

What are your favorite swimsuit memories?

Your real life has become a virtual life

 

 

Your real life has turned into a virtual life. You left work one day and the next you were working from home. The adjustment was abrupt.

There has never been a better time to bring your best when you show up in whatever virtual format your meeting host has chosen. It’s probably true everyone at the meeting will be focused on the presenter or their own image, but why not show up the best for yourself?  This means getting dressed in something you love to wear, turning on your own video (at least for the opening) and being prepared and present. Even introverts (and I am one) are starved for seeing some other real humans in real time doing normal things, so show yourself.

Here’s what I’ve learned from my first few virtual meetings.

  • Being familiar with technology helps. Especially if you are the presenter. You should find someone to practice your presentation with ahead of time. Make sure you are familiar with all the features like sharing your screen, the chat box, turning on your video and audio, muting yourself and figuring out how to find out who else is participating. Each technology  has a help section or introductory tutorial for you to check out ahead of time. If you need to download software to use the platform, do so ahead of time.
  • Make sure your computer or phone video and audio work. It can help to use wired or wireless headsets. You won’t be producing as much background noise when you use these. You may need to give the platform special permissions to access your video and audio so figuring that out on a practice run will make it easier for the real thing.
  • If you don’t want everyone to see the way you really live either find a place in your house that offers a neutral background or create your own. Some technology allows you to change your settings to a virtual background.
  • Be prepared so you don’t have to get up and create visual distractions (remember your boss or co-workers will see you leaving the meeting or doing other work). Have your coffee, water or tea nearby. Have a paper and pen handy for notes or split your screen to take notes on your computer during the meeting. If possible close the door and put up a Do Not Disturb note.
  • Try to figure out how the presenter would like to handle questions and comments. Taking turns and raising hands makes the process go more smoothly. It can be a challenge to get your ideas heard without stepping all over someone else’s input. This is even trickier virtually than it is in real life.
  • Show up like you would if this were an in person meeting. Don’t make the same mistakes I have – by being late, or showing up in pjs.
  • Be present. Don’t work on another project or scroll Facebook while you are in a meeting.
  • Turn off any audible notifications or alarms.
  • Put a little time into your personal appearance. Brush your hair, groom your beard if you decided to grow one, put on some earrings, wear some color and put on a smile (at least during your introduction). I’ve also noticed these meetings can be recorded and sometimes show up as a screenshot in various places. How would you want to show up if this were the case? 

This could be the new normal for a while. How you show up virtually deserves the same courtesy and respect as an in person meeting. Be the person you want others to be and act accordingly. I am offering 30 minute virtual image sessions and technology practice so you can get more comfortable showing up online.

If you need a good laugh, I recommend watching this skit from Saturday Night Live’s virtual show on April 11.