Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Fashion Peeve #4: The Future is Yesterday

Here in Nebraska we are still in the tight clutches of winter. Yet last week when I was out shopping I saw spring clothing boldly displayed, and all the winter stuff was crowded onto a few clearance racks. I can understand that. Even though we are probably at least a month away from being able to wear any of the new styles, I can see that it's fun and interesting to plan ahead. Plus, it's a welcome distraction from the unending snow and ice and cold temperatures.

BUT--and here's my latest peeve-- now I'm seeing fashion forecasting for NEXT FALL! Come on. I'm not ready to think that far ahead. I still have to plan what I'm going to wear this coming summer!

Related to that is this: Fashion forecasting is a game, not biblical prophecy.

At least, that's what I've decided. People who love and know a lot about fashion try to guess what the new trends will be in the next couple or three seasons. Sometimes they are right, but just as often they are wrong. Sometimes they were right for only a brief moment. I saw fashions last spring that only lasted long enough for the first run to get bought, and then the trend was gone again. If I had jumped, I would have only had time to wear my cutting edge whatsit once before it would have been So Last Week.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Fashion Friday: Oh, NOW I Get it.....

"Haute Couture should be fun, foolish and almost unwearable" - Christian Lacroix, high-end French fashion designer.

To wit:

Givenchy Spring 2010
Givenchy Spring 2010 Couture

Christian Dior Spring 2010
Christian Dior Spring 2010 Couture

Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2010
Jean Paul Gaultier Spring 2010 Couture

Chanel Spring 2010
Chanel Spring 2010 Couture

Valentino Spring 2010
Valentino Spring 2010 Couture

Alexis Mabille Spring 2010
Alexis Mabille Spring 2010 Couture

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Wardrobe Maintenance

Looking at photos of myself over the years, I realize I used to have pretty nice clothes. They weren't expensive, but I looked reasonably put together, especially in college, where at my Bible college I was required to wear dresses to class; and in the early days of my marriage, when I still had those college clothes. But somewhere along the line I lost whatever sense of style I had, little as it may have been, and I'm wondering what happened.

I've been thinking about it, and I think I've discovered the answer. My wardrobe suffered from lack of maintenance. Since I had no "style" to speak of, I had no plan, no vision of what  my wardrobe should consist of. It was mainly whatever caught my eye, that I could afford, that looked halfway decent on  me, that matched at least one other thing in my closet. (One style sense I did have was the love of mixing and matching.) Over the years, as I've changed shape and sizes, what with having babies and growing older, I've outgrown or worn out different items in my closet, and I never replaced them.

Many years ago my wardrobe had a lot of brown and cream. For example, I had a nice brown linen pencil skirt and a cream sweater with pastel flowers embroidered on the shoulder, and to go with it, a pair of tan heels. There is a photo of me wearing that outfit, while holding my first born, who was one year old at the time, and I actually don't cringe when I look at it. But what happened? Well, the waistband on the skirt became too tight--my waistline just never went back that skinny. The sweater became pilled and a little shrunken--and besides, at some point I became disgusted with acrylic sweaters and threw all of mine out. (I did "replace" them, sort of--with cotton sweatshirts! What was I thinking?) I don't remember what happened to the shoes, but my guess is I ran out of things that I felt "went" with them, and got rid of them. Eventually, my wardrobe degenerated to the point where I was wearing jeans everywhere, including church, because that was all I had. It never occurred to me, when I outgrew my brown skirt, to find another brown skirt, to keep  my wardrobe going,  or to find another cream sweater in a different fiber when I tired of the acrylic one.

Now, I've learned. I've learned that when I find a basic, classic piece of clothing in a color and fit that suits me, I will replace it when it become unwearable, as many times as necessary, until I change my style and I need something else. But I will no longer just let something die. It must be replaced if I want to keep my wardrobe to continue to function efficiently.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Makeover Quote #13

My memorable quote today comes from an unexpected source: On Writing Well, by William Zinsser. The author is discussing the subject of good taste in your writing style, and then he gives this example:

A woman with taste in clothes delights us with her ability to turn herself out every day in a combination that's not only stylish and surprising; it's also exactly right. Taste is the instinct to know what works and to avoid what doesn't.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Triumph of Individual Style: A Review

The most helpful book about personal style that I've read so far is this one: The Triumph of Individual Style: A Guide to Dressing Your Body, Your Beauty, Your Self

The book approaches style from the perspective of art. Using many illustrations from famous paintings of women (usually nudes), as well as charts and diagrams, the authors show that all body types are just that: types--not problems or flaws--and all are beautiful. The key to showcasing your personal beauty is in the art world: proportion, line, and color.

With the authors' help I began looking at my body as a work of art, a sculpture or a painting, and I began to understand the basic principles behind why certain clothing shapes and designs work or don't work on me. It's a matter of proportion. Just as in art, there are certain lines and proportion that are generally pleasing to the eye, and the closer you can get to that, the more pleasing your form will be to others. And it's not a matter of the "in" body type this season; it's a matter of working with the proportions of your own body.

There is also a whole section on color, with pages of color swatches that you use to find your own personal palette of color. I did this exercise with my daughter and we each ended up with a little key ring of color cards of our "colors." The difference from other color theories being that in this case the colors were truly MY colors: the four colors of my eyes (the iris, the ring around it, the specks, the whites), the two colors of my hair (the base color and the highlights), the two colors of my skin (the actual skin color, and the undertone), rather than a set of colors that are supposed to look good on me. The idea behind this is that you will then find colors to wear that enhance the colors of YOU. This actually works. I have found that my eyes, instead of being green are actually two shades of gray that look green from a distance. This is why certain shades of gray seem to make my eyes bigger and prettier.

The last page of the book has an unexpected quote that sums up the philosophy of the book:

For thou didst form my inward parts; Thou didst weave me in my mother's womb. I will give thanks to Thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are Thy works, and my soul knows it very well. Psalm 139:13-14

Friday, February 5, 2010

Friday Fashion--Just Me

These are some photos of me that I entered in YouLookFab's Maxxinista contest a while back. I didn't win the $300 gift certificate from TJMaxx (boo) but I did get to see myself from the outside, so to speak, by taking pictures of my outfits and looking at them objectively. There are several more that didn't make the cut, but they are buried in the bowels of my laptop, which is inaccessible right now because the power cord died again. If and when I get my laptop back I'd like to post those pics also and get some advice on why those outfits don't work as well as I'd thought.

First up, one of my favorite outfits that I have worn quite a bit. With the jacket--
Maxxinista Gray and Pink, part 2 by cynthikat.

Without the jacket--
Maxxinista Gray and Pink, part 1 by cynthikat.

Next, a great fall outfit, using clamdiggers with boots, instead of jeans, and using the "column of color" idea I learned at Inside Out Style. Although, technically, I should be wearing the cardigan open, so the denim blue flows in a long line.
Maxxinista Black and Blue by cynthikat.

I liked this next outfit better before I saw the photo of it. I'm wearing a white vee-neck tee under the cardigan, and in real life, about an inch of it shows at the neckline, which is difficult to pick out here. The shoes, I love. I get complimented every time I wear them, even though according to some stylists they are all wrong, because they have a horizontal strap across the foot, supposedly making my legs look short. However, I think the horizontal line is counteracted by the vertical strap, and the fact that the shoe is very open, showing a lot of foot.
Maxxinista Black and White by cynthikat.

What do you think? I'm open to comments and suggestions.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Fashion Peeve #3

I didn't title this Peeve, because I'm not sure how to phrase it in a pithy way. It's going to take me a whole paragraph, or at least a sentence, and here goes:

What's with the fashion experts who tell us that the cheap way to update our Look every season is with bags and shoes? Bags and shoes are not necessarily inexpensive, especially not the ones the same experts are telling us to update with. A trendy leather bag for $800? A pair of killer heels for $300? I'd hate to see what the experts are paying for their jeans and sweaters if those are the CHEAP items.

Personally, I don't like to spend more than $2500 for a bag, but that's just me.....

And really, I don't think I own a single "bag," because I buy "purses."

However, I do like my shoes to be of as high of a quality as I can afford. I like good leather, comfort, cute styling, and something that will last a while. I hold to the philosophy of Hercule Poirot---Mystery writer Agatha Christie's famous detective---who said that however shabby an impoverished British Lady may have become, her footwear will always be of the highest quality.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Does anybody else get these?

I got an interesting piece of mail the other day. It was addressed to The Main Grocery Shopper {well, that would be me} and the letter inside began:

Dear Shopper,

As a Nebraska resident, you play a key role in our Consumer Surveys.

Once in a while we carefully select individuals {oh, you do, huh?} in your community---those whom we feel represent the smartest, most value conscious shoppers {well, thank you}. If our hunch {hunch? Your "mass mailing" hunch?} is right, you are such a person.

I read through the enclosed survey and felt like throwing it over my head in frustration. Under the category "Grocery Products" there were listed items such as bottled water, cookies, crackers, frozen fish, frozen meat substitutes (what is that?), frozen pizza, salad dressing, whipped topping, snack bars. Beside each item there were two check boxes for me to tell how often I buy these products. Here were my choices:

3 or More Times Per Month or 1 or 2 Times Per Month.

Seriously? Who buys whipped topping every week? I buy juice once or twice a month, salad dressing a few times per year, hot dogs once in the summer, frozen fish rarely (it's expensive here in the landlocked midwest), and "frozen meat substitutes" never.

The rest of the survey was the same. Lists and lists of products I never use, such as canned soups and frozen waffles and artificial sweeteners-- all wanting to know how often per month I buy them.

Either this survey is ridiculous or I'm more out of step with modern America than I knew--which, of course, is very possible. The kicker was this question:

How often does your household do the following At Least Once A Week or Twice a Week or More Often?

~Prepare meals from scratch {uh, every day, twice a day}
~Use ready-to-serve dishes {never}
~Order in or take-out {how do you do that, anyway?}
~Eat at a restaurant {once in a while}

By the end of my perusal of the survey I came to see that if I filled out any of it, I would probably soon be inundated with magazine subscription requests, and coupons for products I never use (to encourage me to try them), and credit card offers. No thanks. I threw the thing away, in spite of the cheerful promise that I "may" receive "a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash."

Do you get consumer surveys? What do you do with them?

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Makeover Quote #12

I started very early to believe in an inside-out concept--that if you look as good as you can, you will feel better. ~~Jil Sander, designer.

How you feel in clothes is as important as how you look in them. ~~Leah Feldon, author of "Does This Make Me Look Fat?"

Monday, February 1, 2010

Like a kid in a candy store...

....that's what I'm like at the annual Library Book Sale. There are tables and tables of books set out for sale, either library discards or donations, priced at ten cents for a paperback (twelve for a dollar!) or fifty cents for a hardcover. Them's penny candy prices!

In spite of the fact that I love the annual January sale, I never seem to keep up on what week it actually transpires each year, and it's hit or miss for me. Sometimes I catch it, sometimes I don't. This year, I happened to walk in on it, and not having prepared for it, I only had a dollar or so in change with me. So I stuck to looking at paperbacks, figuring that was the biggest bang for my literal buck.

The biggest find (literally and figuratively) was this:

For several months now I've been wanting a copy of The Jerusalem Bible, partly because I've read about it and it sounded interesting, and partly because, to tell the truth, I'm a bit of a bible version junkie.

Years ago, I had all sorts of odd versions, and then I had the misfortune to read a couple of books that argued that the King James version was the only inspired, God-ordained version, and I got rid of all my non-KJV bibles. Then I changed my mind, and once again I am enjoying accumulating and reading many different versions. (Most of them, except for my KJV {smile}, are cheap paperback copies, because how can I justify owning piles of expensive leather bibles--even though I would love to if I could afford it--when so many people don't even have ONE bible? That's my guilty disclaimer... Anyway...)

On my bible shelf at this moment I have:

Phillips New Testament
The Five Books of Moses (Everett Fox)

and, now, of course, The Jerusalem Bible.

Which brings me back to my original thread of my great deals at the book sale. I was so tickled at finding the bible, beings as that particular incarnation is out of print and hard to find, not to say kind of expensive when you CAN find it, that I figured I bought the bible with my dollar and the other eleven books were FREE!

And now I just have to share something. This morning as I was waking up, wondering how achy I was going to be once I got up, and wishing my golfer's/tennis elbow would subside, I suddenly thought I knew why sometimes we feel betrayed by God. If we are put here in this life to accomplish certain things, and are given promises by God that he would help us, then  we find we are failing because we are ill, and feeling helpless and abandoned-- well, it sort of feels unfair. God is expecting things from us we can't do. In addition, we know that we walk by faith, not by sight, and that we are being trained in faith-- but for what? Normally when a person trains for something, it's because they are going to do that very thing. You practice running to run. You practice dancing to dance. The idea of learning to live without hearing God speak, or seeing him work, or without his help, seems to point to a horrible eternity. As I asked Hubby later, What are we being trained for?

But then. This morning after my vacuuming was done I picked up my new bible, and began reading. I just sort of flipped around, reading a few pages here and there, getting a "feel" for it. Then I read this, from 2 Corinthians:

"...though this outer man of ours may be falling into decay, the inner man is renewed day by day. Yes, the troubles which are soon over, though they weigh little, train us for the carrying of a weight of eternal glory which is out of all proportion to them."

Oh my goodness. There's my answer, in my exact terms. We are being trained for glory. Wow. I don't know exactly what that will look like, but it's gotta be good.