Monday, March 12, 2012

Clothes Pony

Barbara: I do love the look of beautiful clothes. I have coveted my fair share of finery: silky shirts, cashmere sweaters, comfortable but still sexy pants. But I am so not a fashion maven. In fact, for the most part, I’ve even stopped reading fashion mags—they make me think too much about a world in which I don’t really have time to revel. Argh to the shopping scavenger hunts, to the changing-room fiascos, to the sticker-shock of non-third-world-child-sewn quality wear. But I come full circle to the fact that I also really really love the look of beautiful clothes. If I were to answer my own question about what to do about them from the safety of my keyboard, I would say irrefutably, “I want me some.” But what about actually going out into the real world and dealing?

There’s this closet in my house full of lackluster, serviceable clothes which greet me when I go to pick out my outfit every day. There’s the drab uniformity of the same colour choice over and over again. Or rather: non-colour. I have planted myself in that world of “easy choices”. Everything—almost everything—is black, white/cream, or grey. There’s some brown, some dark blue. Not a lot. But it’s easy, right? Most everything “goes together” and I can always pull together a classic “chic” look if I need on a moment’s notice. How can a black shirtdress with opaque hose and chunky jewelry not work?

The other day I was admiring a friend’s red coat. It looked spectacular on her. She told me that three different people had offered her three separate wise observations when it came to wearing colour. 1) Colour made you feel better. 2) Colour made you look better. And 3) Colour made you look younger. And so then I began to think about colour. If I was going to buy new clothes, didn’t I need colour too?

But colour isn’t always easy to wear, certainly not for me. Secret confession: I’ve often coveted and admired Deb’s clothes and those of my sister-in-law—both are impeccable fashionistas with style in abundance. And both of them have offered me precious items from their collections when they were spring-clearing. Oh, you can imagine my delight and excitement! Beside myself with giddiness, barely able to stop and kiss my husband hello before racing for my bedroom to try on this guilt-free benevolence (aka: I didn’t have to pay for it and they didn’t have to buy it for me). But time and time again, those very pieces that I coveted the most, the frothy blouses, the architectural jackets, the detailed sweaters, made me look (and by extension, feel) ridiculous! I know it’s logical when I say it, but it never feels logical when it happens: how could something look so beautiful and special and right on this person and so overblown and silly and wrong on me?!

And so, with a spring-cleaning ritual ahead of me and the correlating semi-annual itch to refresh the old wardrobe, I find myself wondering about what choices I will make when I next visit the stores. I mean, I have to have a plan of attack if I’m going to make the rare event a success, don’t I? And despite my reservations, I am now coveting colour, I am coveting striking, I am coveting unique. But will it all make me look like a damn fool who’s trying too hard? How do I invest my shopping hours and modest budget with the best results? And how do I split the difference between what I admire, what I wish looked good on me, and what truly makes me feel (and, as a result, look) good? Deb, help me!!!!

Deb: Help is on the way. Here is the deal. Colour is wonderful. The trend is trending for two years and I love love love to see it. But we always have to be true to who we are and how we see ourselves. I see the models in a hot pink silk skirt and cobalt blue top and I love it, but it’s not me. Sooooooo I will buy as I have done this last month, bright yellow shoes and teal blue shoes. I will buy a bright purse. I choose (mostly) to colour block with accessories. Or try a hot pair of coloured jeans. I love the pastels but not on me, so I have red and they rock. Then I play it down with a white t-shirt. Also you can do your own blue jeans (maybe in a new shape?) and just add a great and bright flowing top. Flowered tops are wonderful with ripped and torn jeans. I just got a gorgeous vintage pale yellow background and flowered silk shirt and I wear it with really distressed jeans to mix up the soft and hard. The other night I wore a gorgeous full lace top (so soft and fem) with ripped jeans and vintage doc martens. Or bling it up. I think I was telling you that I have this vintage rhinestone collar and it is a huge piece that just screams fab. I just wore it (as you know) with a vintage Oscar de la Renta cocktail dress but in the summer I will wear it with white crops and a white T.

Go through your closet and toss all the boring that is not classic. DO BUY or borrow your daughter’s fashion mags. Decide which looks you would love to add to YOUR look. Then pick five pieces that can spice up your look. What I have stopped doing is going shopping and buying a million things that I will wear once. I decide what my look for the season will be and I invest in a few “key” pieces. And DON’T worry about trend. Stress what would makes YOU feel good, visualize how you would love to look this spring and summer. And then ... GO BABY GO!

I would LOVE to help you with this. I WOULD LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Okay, somebody stop me; I could go on and on and on and on and on.

Okay, one more thing. Go shopping in your own closet. You may be surprised that a little piece you bought years ago will work well NOW. I save things that I love and I wait like a fashion tiger to pounce on them when their time comes around again. And by that I don’t necessarily mean trend-time but rather when I LOVE them again. And mix it up. Some of your clothes may be boring to you because of the way you USED to wear them. Mix them up!!! Introduce that little cashmere sweater to a different skirt, pant or shoe. You may just fall in love all over again. And only after you have done that ... you go shopping to fill in the blanks.

Okay, I will shut up now, but I will still be thinking about it while I work out. Then I will call you and then I will pester you and you will regret opening this can of couture! xoxo 

33 comments:

  1. That's funny Barb, that you should mention the red coat..... I saw a friend in a red coat the other day and she did look younger, and more vibrant! I used to wear red and thought "I must start doing that again" But so many of your comments were good ones and thought provoking.
    Deb, I love how you think about clothes and mixing old and new, bling and jeans. I really don't think I have much fashion sense at all. It's just easier to wear riding clothes all day. I do want color back though and I do need help too. I look forward to some lessons from the "Middle Ages" xoxo

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    1. I bet you look FAB in those riding clothes, though, Mary-Jo!!

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  2. Awwwh Barb...ITS LIKE ONE MIND !!! seriously....!!!! In my case...i have no Fashion knowledge at all but really respect the people who know stuff about it..(Say Hi to Stefanie for me!!)....I have so many clothes in my closet and yet dont even wear 5% of them....recently coza my medical stuff my weight was going up and down....so I held on to some stuff that made me feel and look good....but Like Deb said...I always stick to things that make me feel comfy and good...And what works for me is...."TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS" whenever you go to shop....just buy what you think feels good and comfortable...trust me...when you are happy...and you know you feel good....and you love the way you LOOK....everyone starts complimenting you...!!!
    And You are so right Deb is a great dresser !!!!! and Honestly Deb when you started writing...I was like "THIS WOMAN IS MY GODDESS!!!!"....I almost pictured you in a superwoman costume flying here to rescue me !!! lol.....and you are so right.... shopping in your closet can surprise ya !!!
    "Okay, I will shut up now, but I will still be thinking about it while I work out. Then I will call you and then I will pester you and you will regret opening this can of couture! xoxo " lol....after that...if you want you can call me..and talk as much as ya want XD I always like to talk to someone who LOVES TO TALK like me :P !!!!!! love ya both xoxo

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    1. I know, Shalaka, that last line just made me burst out laughing! I'm thinking that I might need to document an excursion with Deb... hmmmmmm...

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  3. I am SO not a fashion maven--I have the wrong figure for pretty much any trend to go through since Ruben, and I am cheaper than cheap. But I have ALWAYS been a color wearer (my husband has likened me to a clown now and again). Sure--black, grey or brown slacks, but color by my face or I look totally washed out.

    My recommendation--do your Chinese Zodiac--there will be two power colors for you that are associated with luck and prosperity (mine are gold and blue)--and shockingly, when you think back, you will realize clothes that color have been associated with feeling good and good things happening--for your purchases (as opposed to the freebies) choose those. (I have a red coat I love--hubby of the classic taste bought it for me)

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    1. Lol, I got yellow and olive-green my absolute worst colors. I've a very pale skin tone so yellow or green makes me look like I'm about to be sick.

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    2. Ooh, I always love any kind of zodiac stuff. I checked and my colours were white, silver and light green. Not super out-there! I am going to be more brazen though. At least to try.

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    3. Ah, mine are silver and red. I hate red. :(
      And I don't wear silver things (well, except for jewelry...).

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    4. I got aqua, green, and silver. Back to the drawing board, I guess.

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  4. The idea of fashion for me is some abstract thing that other women get and I do not. I honestly think that my 12 year old sadly has a much better style than I do. I hate shopping I seem to be incapable of picking things that look good on me or even fit right for that matter. I've desperatly been trying to add colour to my wardrobe for a few years and have managed a few times but I think I've learnt more about what doesn't look good on me rather than what does. Yellow for example in any shade is never going to look right on me.

    The biggest lesson I've learnt is not to be scared of trying things on. I went shopping with a few friends one of whom is a fairly successful designer a while back. She picked a few things for me that I looked at and went nuh-uh no way. She insisted I try them on and lo and behold everything she picked looked great. One of the shirts she choose is still a favorite and it was a design I never ever would have tried on my own. Since then I'm really trying to push myself to try on more styles and colours even if I hate it as much on me as on the rack I feel better having at least tried it out and sometimes I get surprised.

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    1. This does inspire me, Erin, to really take advantage of having that other, trust-worthy eye with me. I must take advantage. I must surprise myself a bit more.

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  5. I have no fashion sense, none, zero nada. Always look casual. Dress in black pants, jeans and my favorite lulu lemons. Nice workout clothes. Only once person dressed me as a little kid and that was my fashion plate mother. It went downhill from there. My best friend dressed me before she unfortunately died 13 years ago. I have become even worse since then. I don't do sexy very well nor any fashion actually. My fashion style is no style but it is my style. I would have to use a personal shopper in a store if I wanted success. I loved the writing today but it stressed me out because I will never be Deb and fashion. Barb, at least you have Deb who wants to help. My friends dress worse than me and that is hard to find.:)

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    1. This made me laugh, Madge! Sorry for the stress, but yeah, I am jealous of myself to have someone like Deb in my life to hold my hand through this. And, as with everything, it depends on where your priorities are at any given moment: it's very rare that I feel compelled to refresh the ol' wardrobe. It just happens to be that I feel that way now (must be spring).

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  6. Style?? Oh, don't make me laugh!

    Right now I'm rocking the I'm-wearing-sweats-and-I-couldn't-give-a-crap look (hey, I've been cleaning and sorting all day). Throughout my typical week of classes I can vary from just a t-shirt and jeans to a fitted tee and a pretty skirt...purple Chucks totally optional ;). Every couple of months I go through my clothes and, generally, if I forgot I had it or I haven't worn it in three months, it either gets donated or given to my roommate! haha!

    And SCARVES! Oh. my. word. Do not get me started on those things! I own at least a dozen and am always looking for more. When Kelly and I go shopping and I see the scarf area, I tell Kelly to get me away!!! LOL! And also when I go shopping I usually try to find things that are versatile. Just yesterday I found this salmon and navy striped dress: the first thing I said when I saw it was "I can think of about a thousand things to wear with this!" Make it work with more things so you can keep it longer.

    Can't you tell I love clothes? And shopping? And getting rid of things? ;)

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    1. Scarves. Yes. I love scarves and think they can do a lot of big for such very little. I will keep scarves in mind, thank you!

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  7. Ok,so I have to say that I am not up I guess you would say with the latest clothing fashion,but however I do like to look good. I like to make sure that I look my best,but no I don't follow fashion at all. I have to say though Deb,I love the comment of what you say about going shopping in your own closet. Very true. It might suprise you on what you can find and do with your own clothes. Great post ladies.

    Oh and one more thing all, I have just posted some new photos on blogger. You all should check it out. My post is called Life's Little Mircle baby. I hope you all don't mind me saying this on here but just though I would say a little something. Great post today.

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    1. You can always post here, Lyndsie! I'll check it out after I comment.

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  8. Deb: you're a genius. Barb: it was like you were speaking from my own heart.
    I love love love fashion and clothes and stuff... on other people. When it comes to dressing myself I stress out, I worry about budget, how long the item will last, how long I think I can confidently wear said item, if it will go with the rest of my wardrobe etc. I literally get VERY sweaty palms when I shop. I think a lot of it has to do with low finances, so I need something but I have to get the purchase right. I can't afford mistakes, and I always make mistakes so it's so nerve-wracking! And then there's what you said, Barb. About seeing other people's clothes or pictures in magazines and wishing you could work that look. I don't know about you but some of my most coveted looks would require a whole wardrobe dedicated to it. A whole large wardrobe. And of course there's also the confidence issue.
    With regards to colour (look, this is almost turning into a blog of its own! ... sorry), I loooove colour. I have a love affair with three different colours: dark, warm, deep red; bright, deep green and bright deep orange (yip, orange!) I'm head over heels for these colours. I cherish them, they lift me, I can stare at them and drown in their depths and beauty. They must be clear colours and I am quite picky about the exact shade I'm in love with, but I do love them so! I have a beautiful silk scarf in orange with threads of red and yellow that grant it depth. It was a gift and is calling out to me from my wardrobe right now, seducing me. This is about when people start giving me funny looks, but I remind them that Monet was obsessed with colour (and therefore I am allowed to be).
    Wow Deb, you were right about opening a can of couture! I could go on about fashion issues, but then this comment would end up taking over your blog!

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    1. I totally agree. I love clothes on other people. I can help my mother pick out entire outfits in a second, but when it comes to me, I'm hopeless in the stores. Just can't do it. I love to shop, but I tend to go back to the ol' reliables (jeans and tees). Oh well...

      Deb, I think we all could use a crash course! xoxo

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    2. Aimee, I loved this comment! "Take over" whenever you want! I totally relate to everything you say here. And I love your colour choices, btw!

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  9. Clothes. Fashion. I don't know. I am a t-shirt, jeans, and converse kind of girl. I can dress up and do when I need to but since I have to get up so early I tend to just do jeans and a tee. I love vintage and tattered clothes. My favorite pair of shoes are these hot pink converse that are splattered with various colors of paint. I have had them for about four years and they are my go to shoes. I guess I love shoes since they are the easiest thing for me to experiment with. I don't change my style at all. I tend to prefer darker shades than the lighter, pastel colors; they just seem to look better. I have a lot of t-shirts from events, like some I got from seeing some Shakespeare performances (total nerd, I know). One of my favorite t-shirts says "The Constitution: I read it for the Articles." I love the odd tees that you don't see everyday. I hunt them out.
    I also collect socks of a wierd nature. I have various prints and colors, some that I think even glow in the dark. I have knee socks that I love and some ankle socks too. One of my favorite pair of socks is purple and black plaid. I also love all of my argyle socks. I love argyle. Socks are like my secret thing, no one see them (or rarely see them) so I can do what I want.
    I also like cardigans. I have recently taken wearing those up. I really like classics and simple in general.
    Fashion is not my thing, but I have a style of my own. I tend to not follow trends because I like what I like and don't like what I don't. Why try to dress like everyone else? I like the way I look in the clothes I pick out.
    ;)

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    1. It TOTALLY sounds like you have a style of your own. A style that will go a long long way and will always be your true style. Because it sounds "strong" choice-wise but also completely you.

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  10. ugh..Fashion. So not me. I own T-shirts and cargo shorts and blue jeans. But I do LOVE socks! They are my accesories and pop of color..or colour as you guys spell it : ) I have ones for every holiday, day of the week, and even fancy lacy ones! So don't forget to add that little pop of color just for you! Even if no one else sees my socks I know I have them and it makes me smile : )

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    1. You and Steph with the socks! Love that. And I may even try this one.

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  11. I love holiday socks! I love to wear Christmas socks in July! ;)

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  12. Sharon (NOT! Miranda Priestly) ReineMarch 12, 2012 at 9:37 PM

    Once, along time ago, I loved fashion. Read all the mags, cut out looks and even created binders w fav designs and desires. Bought books and learned how to shop resale for upscale items @ much lower prices. But 2 ( 2+1/2) things happened. 1) I went into menopause and .5) gained a sh*tload of weight that became increasingly impossible to loose which severely limited my choices. ( in Italy size 10 is a large!!!) But more imporantly, I had very few places to wear things anymore, no lunches, barmitzvahs, weddings, and fewer people who cared what i looked like at the few places I DID go (ie theatre) a pair or black pants and a shirt( some times in colour) takes me almost everywhere.
    (Course I wear scrubs at work and cos of my size can only wear the simplest of styles so no room for expression there and patients don't really care as long as its clean and not too scary)!) But Deb, u have a figure 2 die for and I am a total fan of your style sense. Barb jest give her 'er head and she'll take u where u wanna go- to the sun moon & stars of colur & style! U go Gurl!

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    1. I am so going to do this, Sharon. If Deb is on it, I am all over it! Thanks for the thumbs-up. (and there's something to be said for the basics, right?)

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  13. I wear a lot of tank tops and I have all colors of the rainbow. I don't look healthy in yellow or red, but I love all manner of (? Jewel tones?) blue, purple, deeper pink (and some bright), teal/aqua, and, of course, black.

    It all goes with denim jeans, though, either blue or black. I own one pair of white jeans that don't quite fit right now. (They did when I bought them. Just gotta work on getting back there.)

    I don't know if I've ever had an issue re: wearing color. I should go shopping, check out some new things. It hasn't been easy to care over the past few months, but as the sun comes out, I may go looking for more sunny items. So long as I don't end up looking like a piece of citrus, I'm all over it!



    My favorite color source is shoes. I'm an 8 medium, an actual PEOPLE size, snd life is beautiful.but have decided that footwear is where the fun's at. I LOVE clogs,

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    1. Ooh, yeah, shoeeees. And I never feel like clothes shopping in the winter for some reason. Too sluggish???

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  14. I told Barbara earlier today that one look @ my Pinterest boards would prove why I need to stay silent about anything to do with fashion. She argued that what I showed her was all the more reason I should speak up.

    Blame Barbara. ;)

    Clothes:
    http://pinterest.com/winterlighthome/clothes/

    Jewelry:
    http://pinterest.com/winterlighthome/jewelry/

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    1. Yay, Rigel!!! Thank you. Love these boards.

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  15. Fashion...Oh, well...

    I've never been into it.
    I wore oversized boys T-Shirts, when I was 15.
    Asked my friend once, why her other friend didn't like me.
    She said: Well...it's not you. It's your clothes!
    I was like: What's wrong with my clothes?
    She: They're not up-to-date.

    See? I didn't even realize that! I didn't care. Nobody showed or told me about fashion and style.

    I haven't changed much since then...

    I usually wear jeans with a T-Shirt or a Jumper. I love colourful shirts, though. I have all colours! :D
    And I love shirts which have a meaning.

    I have one that says: Did you already smile today?
    I have some with Eeyore and Timmy (Shaun the Sheep) on them, because I love them.
    I have some with bunnies, stars and butterflies on them, because I'm obsessed with these things.

    Sometimes I think that's childish, and that I need to grow up, but I just like to wear it. So I wear it.

    And...I have a big problem. Aka my legs. I must have borrowed them from an elephant. I hate them so much.
    I'm not thin, but I have nice waist. When I want to buy trousers that fit my waist, I can't get them over my thighs. No way!
    When I buy trousers that accept my legs, they are too wide around my waist.

    I only own three pairs of trousers...and I hate finding new ones. I can't choose. I need to take what fits me. No trend for me.

    Recently, I discovered wearing leggings. I never dared it, because of my legs. But with some oversized shirts/jumpers (I LOVE that!), and maybe a skirt, or shorts (I can't stand it, when girls only wear leggings and you can see their backside, because the shirt is too short. No way)...that's all right.

    Often, when I walk into the different shops, and see the current fashion, I think: How on earth can anybody wear that? That looks horrible! Maybe I miss a gene!

    And when I think of what I would like to wear...I make it! :D
    Yes, I started to sew, and create my own clothes.

    I made an entry in my blog, and show some pictures, if you want to have a look!

    http://2handwonderland.blogspot.com/2012/03/creative-sewing.html

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    1. Wow, Becki, these creations are truly wonderful! They are unique and lovely and yet still comfortable (and I love that red dress on you!!). You are just so radiant in every photo! Wow. Definitely a fashion flare there. Thanks for sharing.

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