Take a hint

there are always people we encounter where we think, if given the chance, we'd make different sartorial choices for them. but they might be perfectly passionate about their decisions. and i might be clueless about my own fashion foibles. always easier for me to see others somewhat more clearly than myself, but then there are also little signs that i could perhaps pay attention to, pointing out when something is and is not compatible with me, my style, my life, my body, etc.

where is the line between giving it "the old college try" and trying too hard? how do you know when you've crossed it?

A lot on the line

there is shopping for a fantasy life, and then there is shopping for a fantasy wardrobe. ever find the perfect x that sweeps you off your feet, only to discover you don't have the y and z to go with it? to speak more plainly, let's say you find a great pair of boots. these boots really go with skirts, and you wear pants. what do you do, change your whole style? with an item like this, there are 2 choices - buy them and they languish, unused, or buy them and allow them to set off an absolutely necessary shopping spree to correct the wrong that was your previously unaccommodating wardrobe.
ooops, totally forgot option C. pass.

do you make sure that new items are compatible with your current wardrobe?

Distribution of wealth

for contemporary culture, dorothy is one of the earliest examples of mixing high/low, marrying a simple country pinafore with magical ruby red slippers. just like today’s “It” items, the power was all in the wearer’s mind, but a lot of people are putting a lot of stock (and money) in the idea that one key accessory will make the whole outfit.

when the investment is made in the accessories, and they are then expected to elevate the clothing (this seems deceitful, in a way), then they cease to be accessories. an accessory is a subordinate item, something non-essential.

i wonder if this long-running trend is breeding a whole lot of people who don’t know how to dress themselves, because they don’t think they need to, because they’ve got the It, and It’s all they need.

on the other hand, h&m and other retailers of fast fashion* do make it possible to assemble an outfit with legitimate flair at a low cost, plus vintage or even a very keen eye can produce great style at reasonable costs.

is there any advantage (or disadvantage) to distributing the wealth to keep a look in proportion, value-wise?

Whistle while you work

buying is definitely a panacea for me and the results are less than stellar when it’s over-prescribed. i’m trying to wean myself off and primarily use shopping as a tool to shape my wardrobe, not as retail therapy. i say “primarily” because shopping provides a very nice high and i see no reason to deny myself that but i have to be more alert when i am doing it for emotional reasons and shop accordingly.

i have also been an active part of the e-shopping revolution. it takes a while to develop an e-eye for how something will fit, feel and even actually look just based on a picture on the screen, but, for better or worse, i’ve pretty well mastered it. with it comes mistakes, for sure, but also a whole new shopping experience that includes insta-delayed gratification. you can click “buy now” and take the item off of your shopping list, which makes you feel productive, but then you also get the week of anticipating the item’s arrival, thinking about it with expectations of use (remember, you haven’t tried it on yet and discovered the ten ways it doesn’t work) and basically this turns the process of shopping into a literal gift-getting experience (there’s a box and everything).

would you forsake the pleasure of shopping, browsing, discovering for an all custom-made wardrobe?

Dressing by numbers

at 58, miuccia prada herself represents a fashion ideal for me. both independent and conscientious in her choices, miuccia seems to know herself, and always looks as if she gets dressed deaf to the white noise of the retail industry (her training as a mime might be assisting her there).

another aspect i do not see blatant evidence of in her style is age. i think she does consider it (you will not see her bare arms, a hemline above her knees, etc.), but her look is not easily categorized. her mix of conservative cuts with whimsical details is hugely appealing to me.

though i am now making an effort to understand and dress for myself, and i look forward to settling into my "final" wardrobe, i do expect that it's a lifetime process. i may even have to sit down and do an overhaul again in another 4-6 years, depending on if, going forward, i am successful at understanding my style and buying accordingly, so it might not have to be as extensive as my current efforts. but regardless, there are things i anticipate wearing, look forward to wearing in conjunction with the acquisition of certain ages (just as some pieces i am choosing with an eye to their expiration date – gather ye rosebuds and all of that).

do you have a long term plan?

How do you look

a quote from ms. vreeland goes "what do I think about the way most people dress? most people are not something one thinks about." while it doesn't keep me up at night, i am most definitely aware of the way others around me are dressed. if you’re savvy about and invested in your own appearance, then odds are you’re interested in others’ (or is it just me?). to a large degree, magazines merely fill the void when i’m inside and don’t have people-watching opportunities. when out and about, often i have something on my brain that i’m musing about for myself, and so i look at that feature/aspect on others, like research (hair, shoes, etc.), in an attempt to gain some objectivity, since looking in the mirror is a highly subjective thing. one thing i seldom do is judge. it's all good, in my opinion.

how invested are you in how other people dress?


the theory is, if you lose one sense, the other remaining ones are heightened, becoming super senses. alternatively, with clothing, if you subtract a major characteristic (color, material, fit... are there more?), i think the result would be that focus would then be put on the absence, highlighting what is missing. emphasizing one over the others creates a standout feature. that’s one thing. but a missing quality takes the spotlight.

do you always pay attention to all three?
which could you give up most easily?

Credit where credit is due

if you get a compliment on a physical feature, you say "thank you" but while we benefit from our pieces and parts (eye color, ear size, ;) whatever), those are luck of the draw. we don't own them the way we do the things we actively choose. yet despite this fact, physical beauty is more often prized over style.

if you could only have one, which would you prefer, beauty or style?

Double standard

sometimes i cannot decide if men have more fashion freedom, or less. they have a much more narrowly (culturely-) defined range of options in contrast to women but then within those options, there is room for creativity to be sure. not to mention that my favorite outfit of all times, a t-shirt and jeans, can look so much better on them (than me grrrr). i wonder if my variety of choices backfires, on me anyway. too many choices muddle my decisions i think.

so working backwards i thought, if i were a guy, what would i wear, or rather, what would my style be? obviously my style is largely informed by my experience and mind, as a woman, but all things being equal (wouldn't that be nice), if i were me, as a guy, what style would i embrace? looking at an opposite can still, sometimes, be a useful tool.

if you were a boy, how would you dress?


aspirational shopping is a great development for retailers and fashion houses. it's a guarantee to licensees that the $500 sunglasses will sell. it assures the credit card companies that the biased 2005 bankruptcy amendments will be put to good use. i haven't done research but i think it's an american invention. the US tossed the typical english class hierarchy out the window and essentially is a country built on the premise/promise that anyone can do or be anything (the wealth of inequality prevents this from being true, but the idea is firmly entrenched in immigrant hearts), and as capitalists, looking/living that desired identity is as good as being it, more so now than ever before.

but the very term "aspirational" suggests that ownership is not 9/10ths of the identity. there is an inherent classism going on in the vocabulary if owning X merely exposes that you aspire to be worthy of X, to be legitimately equal to your possessions (and if you are aspiring then presently you are not?). suddenly playing dress-up no longer sounds like the harmless, healthy game it once was. with fashion, if dressing is self-expression, is it deceptive/delusional to express your style/taste if that style/taste is generally associated/attributed to an income bracket well above your own? is it important to make sure that your interpretation of your personality/taste be rendered in fiscally responsible and honest fashions? and then, happily, leaving economics behind, what about dressing per your role/daily activities/position etc.? are we obligated to tailor our style to our labels?

do you dress for who you are or who you want to be? is it always clear?


despite my personal ambitions for minimalism, often i am inspired by maximalism. it isn't that i become inspired to go over the top, not at all. my eye is still my eye, so within the chaos, i will still seek the simple - a color or a shape or a feeling. if a mood is effectively portrayed, i can take something from that. if my own taste or style is reflected back at me, i lose interest. i think i prefer that all the work not be done for me.

are your inspirations tangible or more unfamiliar?

Want not, waste not

accessories are my achilles’ heel in the effort to keep my style streamlined and, more importantly, true to myself. i don’t wear accessories. i own a watch, a ring, a bangle... i can list the accessories i own on 2 hands, and the ones i actually wear can be inventoried on just one, and you can get the other hand out again to count the number of times a year i probably even wear the pieces that i do. yet i am an inexplicable fan. last night i found myself contemplating a necklace i would never wear. wait, that's not even true. there were 2 very different necklaces on 2 different sites that i was drawn to. in the past, i've contemplated saving up for a ring. what i cannot understand is how i have this appreciation for something that i don't actually wear. it's not a case of not having found the right piece yet. i don't like wearing accessories.

is there anything you are drawn to that you have no practical use for whatsoever? do you pass or indulge?


i always find it fascinating how the dictates from the powers that be can make us turn on once favorite pants/skirt lengths/hair styles/colors/shoes and regard them with disdain. "pleats? how could i have ever worn pants with pleats" "cuffs? i'd sooner die" "bangs? what was i thinking!" only to eventually have the pendulum swing back in that direction, raising the rejected back to revered. as i described runway reviews to my friend the other day, it’s an exercise in mood swings: "berry lips are huge!" "pale lips are sexy!" "retro red is a must!" "muted lips are so now!" "we love red lips!" "we hate red lips!" unfortunately i expose myself to this lunacy constantly but at least i do laugh at the transparent lack of ideas. it's just a game of back and forth and i fall for it myself every time. suddenly, gloss does look wildly more fresh than matte. suddenly, i am sure that matte is more appealing, etc. let's face it, they do know what they're doing, those powers that be.

a recent and steady big trend is the bigger than big bag. chanel crossed a line when they sent garbage bag style totes down the fall’06 runway. whenever things get too extreme, it means we’re heading for a backlash. lowrise got so low that now high waists are returning because there was nowhere else to go. as it was, things were already dangerously flirting with crossing the NC-17 line. unless next season’s handbag is so big we can actually get in it and zip it up, it’s going to have to come down, back to actually being a “hand” bag.

the truth is that while large bags have been de rigeur and smaller bags looked out of proportion, smaller bags never looked any different. what i mean is, the bag never changed, just our perspective. it's sort of key to survival, mental that is, to block out some of the stimulation we get, some of the exposure to trends etc. so that we can see for ourselves what really works on us, what really appeals to us as thinking human beings, individual human beings, so that we do not shop as the herd they count on us functioning as (no store would order a huge pile of x style if they did not rely on our predictable collective thirst for x, which would be reliably instilled by the powers).

it's not that a new trend is necessarily wrong, but i need to approach it as an option i can accept or reject. i used to think the word "trend" was a bad bad thing, but someone shared this with me last week and i think it’s a very smart way to look at them: trends are good though, trends give you broad selection, and then you can choose the best. when many designers/labels are taking a shot at the same target, there's a greater likelihood that one will do it in a way you really like. and when you really really like the piece, there's no reason to stop wearing it when the trend is no longer red hot.

are you easily swayed by editorial influences? are you in touch with your gut instinct for what you like or what works on you?


it is interesting that i am no less inspired by linda's blunt bob than i am by louise's. also interesting to me is that this cut didn't look retro or exclusively referential when linda did it. it is, in my opinion, one of those rare things that transcends time and trends. it is (i'm afraid this is very corny but...) timeless.

is "timeless" something that is important to you?

Good to the last drop

i saw a woman today wearing a very summery sundress. it had a fitted bodice and a sash belt of the same fabric over a full skirt. her hair was pulled back into a ponytail and she had on plastic thongs. not an uncommon sight. and since i am accustomed to this misinformed trend, i was unfazed by it. steadily we've moved away from thoroughly coordinated outfits. not since jackie have the shoes/hat/gloves/coat/manicure religiously been matched, and jackie herself embraced the change, her style evolving with the times and reflecting more independent fashion. fashion became independent of men, of gender roles, independent of profession, of alleged propriety, of economic brackets, and eventually, inevitably, the trend lead to fashion being independent of itself, with idiosyncratic outfits becoming the trend, until, of course, now that has become a predictable "look" canceling the independence of it all, i suppose. and the result is this woman i saw today, with incongruous parts, looking perfectly normal to me.

wardrobe departments are still in the business of maintaining fashion coherence, though they work on keeping an outfit fitting the character, not the outfit fully fitting itself, as we have lost most of the rules of getting dressed, the checklist of necessities. it's liberating to dress/shop/choose ... independently, but i do think some people are lumping the good with the bad. it's a bit of a cop-out to say "there are no rules to fashion so i can wear flipflops with everything."

yes, anyone can surely wear flipflops with anything they want to, and i wouldn't want it any other way but that doesn't change the fact that when they do, it's unfinished business. why bother to get half dressed? why forgo the right to actually choose a shoe and wear flipflops instead when another shoe would look so much better? i'm sorry - (but i'm not) - sometimes what looks good is not subjective, or at least, it isn't on this blog. ;) i'm not even really talking about something looking better, actually. i should clarify. i'm talking about finishing what was started. flipflops are a non-shoe.

i can think of a number of different options she had and they aren't about matching her dress, but about conveying some sort of aesthetic. as it was, i was left with nothing from her ensemble, other than to wonder if she had fled a burning building and had to evacuate in the flipflops she had on. the same thing happens when someone ditches their fashion choices in favor of a status bag. while it is possible that they sank their wardrobe $ into the purse and hence the jeans and flipflops... it still amounts to the same thing - copping out. okay, the good news is that this post isn't (or at least wasn't intended to be) a rant against the flipflop. it just illustrates something i will try not to do, which is to be noncommittal.

do you aim for pieces or for an outfit? are there parts you consider to be extraneous to your look, eg hair, accessories, *gulp* shoes?

The real deal

sometimes it feels like designers are trying to reinvent the wheel. the boots pictured here both feature suede uppers and crepe soles, 2 holes with tone-on-tone rivets and laces. the top pair are by pierre hardy and retail for over $300. hardy began his career in 1988 working for christian dior. his eponymous men's collection begain in 2001. the second pair are from clarks england and cost $80-$90. the company dates back to 1825 and the desert boot is based on the boots soldiers wore in wwII. i think the hardy pair are based on the clarks. don't worry, i'm not dense, i see the difference, the degree of refinement to hardy's pair, but the "original" boots hold greater charm for me, mostly because of their status as originals.

generally, i like a label. i'll admit it. tell me a beaded necklace is from a little french boutique and i will happily pay. tell me it's from a crafts fair and i will not want it. this is sad. this means that i rely on commercialized atmosphere to infuse my pieces with style/appeal. i don't know why.

and i don't like to settle knowingly either. if i admire a vivienne westwood dress, i won't want a similar dress from h&m.
thankfully, it works the other way too, so when i wanted a pair of lace-up ankle boots, i went with clarks england and paid less to get, in my opinion, greater design authenticity. when it works out that way, i can congratulate myself, but when i know that a label will increase my pleasure (and tab), i feel a bit the victim - of myself. no wisdom to offer on this one, just self-awareness.

does a label effect your value for an item?

Change of heart

i chopped my hair off recently. there are other more gradual image changes that happen, almost imperceptible really, until we flip through the photo album and look with horror at how we used to dress. but i undergo bigger changes once in a while, where i can feel the gears shifting. this time, it started with a haircut. it was a big change. it changed how long my showers take, it changed how other's see me (daring to some, "sir" to others - swear, the other day i got "have a good day sir," as i exited a store! lol), and it changed how i want to dress.

then the hair started to grow (it's startling, and very inconvenient, how quickly short hair grows) and i contemplated letting it, until i realized that the fashion path i was on, at present, fit with my short-hair frame of mind. i have to keep the hair short. i like it short. i like working with the change. i like that necklines and collars are so much more interesting to me now.

i loved playing with my dolls as a child. the hair, the clothes, the plotlines. each was a blank slate, waiting for my direction. this haircut reminded me that i can start anew with my self as well.

how often do you think you undergo a revision of your image, or explore a whole new style? what is the catalyst for the change?

A chore

i did not use to like to shop. family and friends thought i did, because i liked clothes. i always explained that i liked having the clothes, but not the process of buying them. then the internet happened to me. i like to buy online. nevermind that i can’t touch, try on or even be certain i am correctly seeing the item i am buying. when it’s an emotional purchase (meaning, one made to satisfy an emotional rather than practical need, inspired by boredom, sadness, frustration, stress...), i prefer the internet because then the time it takes the item to arrive is all part of the anticipation, expectation, celebration of the acquisition. then the delivery day, carefully checked and monitored, the box, it’s all more like a present than a purchase. when i do my shopping irl (as opposed to virtual – which is still very real when the cc goes through), that process feels more like work.

it isn’t that shopping in a store isn’t fun, but there is some stress involved, sometimes. either it’s a sale and i know i can’t return it, or there is a sales person making herself too available, or no sales person around to help at all, or i just don’t want to be rushed with my decision. online i can leave a web page open, contemplate, ruminate, speculate, have a snack, and generally take my time. i can spend an hour, a day, a week, visiting and viewing the item in question (geez, after all this analysis you would think i would have a higher rate of success than i do...). also, in person, the anticipation is eliminated. instant gratification used to be the order of the day, but gradually i’ve become accustomed to appreciating the delay (when there is certainty that gratification is on its way, whether it’s just leaving the warehouse or already on the brown truck, out for delivery) because it stretches out the fun, so that there is more of it.

why give all this up? well, i’ve given myself enough almost right “gifts” to consider that maybe choosing my clothes should be work, or at least should be taken more seriously. enjoying the process is not, i am realizing, more important than enjoying the results. a key point in the "pro" column for shopping in person is one that i had lately been putting in the "con" column - the selection, the choices. such quantity, all right there, side by side. instead of expertly navigating between "outerwear" "skirts" "dresses" all reviewed in separate tidy windows, i have to wade through everything at once - choosing smaller boutiques is helping me gain my footing in this wild retail world again.

now, if i buy, i have the benefit of seeing and thinking about how the item will interact with other clothes before i buy it and, i can better control myself from buying for buying's sake. it's a start.

how important is the shopping process to you?

Do you or don't you

i am generally open-minded about fashion, and i approach all the options with healthy curiosity (this naturally led to my need for paring down). in contrast, i know people who just instinctively have a lot of rules about what they will wear. it is interesting to note that when they rattle them off to me the rules are actually for what they will not wear. you might argue that the list is one and the same, because the space left blank in one list is the very thing that builds the content of the other (eg. “i won’t wear skirts” translates to “i will wear pants” etc.) but i see a difference in the mentality, if not the practical results.
why is it easier to commit to a list of “don’t” than it is to a list of “do”? i have a theory. i think the list of don’t is easily created from past experience, failed attempts, what we’ve learned, etc. the do list is, well, is only possible to create if you’ve reached an understanding of yourself. i’m beginning to feel like a do list is possible for me. not quite, but almost.

which is easier for you?


once in a while, i get dressed and everything clicks. i think i look good, i feel good, it’s all good. i haven’t quite figured out the formula for these small successes (though i’m trying to because i’m aiming for a wardrobe of them) – quite often this winning outfit incorporates a new item, so i’m suspicious that my judgment is clouded by my infatuation with the newest addition. but regardless, when i feel really really great in an outfit, it throws a cloud over nearly everything else in my closet. and naturally i want to feel that great every day.
why do i bother with anything else when x makes me feeling like a million bucks. i know many closets are filled with enough filler items to sufficiently postpone a repeat for over a week at least, but if i’ve found the outfit that does it all, why stray? hypothetically, if i laundered the items each day, what’s the harm in repeating? okay, that’s extreme. it’s my impulse, but i’ll grant it’s an extreme one. how about a more civilized compromise?

do you have a rule at what frequency you’re willing to repeat?

All the world's a stage

i dress for myself, but if someone important to me says something critical, i take that into consideration. that said, i’ve accepted that my style does not appeal to everyone (and while we don’t wear our politics or philosophies on our sleeves, our very sleeves themselves seem as capable as weightier issues are of offending or intriguing others). while my style is generally not too remarkable, i am not adverse to the occasional large tulle bow, or dressing about 2 degrees more formal than the circumstances might call for.
i don’t tend to consider my audience (who i will be seeing, etc. over the course of each day), which is a privilege that is not lost on me. and as i wrote in my comment under the style (stīl): post below, i do not dress to be sexy, so take that off the list of motivations. i am always pleased to receive a compliment, but my most important critic is myself.

besides yourself, who else (partner, environment, peers) do you consider when you get dressed/shop? does that pressure undermine your style at all?

Reviewing the figures

figuring out the strengths of one's figure is undoubtedly a shortcut to greatly improving one's style (fit is key), but should body-type dictate style? that is, if one is an hour-glass, then is it possible to look for cuts that flatter an hour-glass shape without altering the desired style or look? hour-glass conjures up images of 1940-50s fashions, and some 80s as well, but does an hour-glass have to adhere to a specific fashion era? can an hour-glass body rock a punk senability? can a rectangle body go beyond boy-cut clothes? i think definitely yes, but it is tricky.
yours truly,

do you let your body define more than your tailoring? does it also define your style?

The 10th commandment

i have noticed that one reliable measure of healthy self-esteem (in the physical department) is the degree to which those you admire bear a resemblance to yourself. when my short, curvy (maybe it skips a generation), brunette mom expressed admiration for tall, lanky blonds, that always told me that she had a case of “grass is greener.” and she did always lament her height and figure. (curiously, she also shopped as if she were a tall, lanky person. until i intervened. ;) but i digress.)
i worried recently that the same can be a measure of whether we’re on target for our chosen style. am i the only one who sometimes looks with admiration at someone with a different fashion sensibility than my own? of course i prefer fashion variety in the world, and don’t want us all to fall into line behind one unified fashion philosophy, but in this case i was admiring a very simply-dressed person with a touch of elegance. while my outfits are not exactly theatrical, i am more comfortable with quirk than collected on my self.

can you integrate what you admire without losing yourself?

style (stīl):

if asked “what is style?” i would probably quote the vague justice potter stewart, “i know it when i see it.” i have found that it is in fact a subjective thing. what might be avant garde or original to one person will be deemed a don’t by another.
but getting closer to home, anyone who is consciously choosing their clothes is expressing their own style, but might not necessarily be able to explain their own style any more definitively. a category or name for my taste/style eludes me, but when i’m shopping for something that will match my taste, i know it when i see it.

can you easily define your style?


hot off the topic of uniforms, i’m thinking about another form of fashion repetition: shopping. my look is a jumble and, i feel, inconsistent – i don’t see a well-defined style. anyway, is this a result of my eye or my shopping behavior, i’m not sure. one i could change, and one is just my lot.
so how do i shop? every where and anywhere. i am not loyal to any particular brands (one of the best ways to build a highly consistent wardrobe – though i suppose that depends on the brand you stick with, but in general this theory will hold true if it’s a label with a strong design identity, which then gets passed on to the customer).
there are a few stores that i like enough to think, i might attain consistency if i just stuck with a, b & c, and stopped playing the field. i like them a lot but i can’t stop my wandering eye.

could you be happy/content if you had to pick 2 stores, and only 2, to shop in for the rest of your days?

In uniform

vogue’s creative director and editor-in-chief, grace coddington and anna wintour, respectively, despite styling and promoting new looks every month, have both comfortably settled into their own individual fashion groove. coddington sticks with black (occasionally there’s a white shirt instead), and always pants. wintour favors a full skirt cut to the knee, with a fitted top nipped in at the waist, and heels. (an aside: it is interesting that these 2 inseparable colleagues seem to dress in a way that underscores their partnership. anna is the more colorful femme to grace’s dark mannish style.) their hair is perhaps their more famous unwavering accessory. the big red bush and the compact bob. (also, curiously, opposites.) neither is going to go dark or light, longer or shorter, despite the fabulous new trend surely to be found in their magazine. coddington does not look ready to embellish her attire with a must-have accessory and i cannot imagine wintour in a tory burch tunic with the line’s famous flats. these women have decided what they are comfortable with and are sticking to it.
are these 2 embracing a uniform or demonstrating personal style? their choice is to be settled (somewhat rigidly) on what they’ve decided works for them.

is it easier to stop making new choices? any harm in just settling on what works, once and for all?

(pics are from style.com and i recognize that this is a semi-dramatization since these 2 real women might dress differently when not in the spotlight, but they do still illustrate the idea of a uniform quite effectively.)

Shopping list

it would not be good business for the manager of a peanut factory to hire an elephant to carefully shell and sort the peanuts.
before i pick a new item, it might be useful to figure out what i want from it. before i become disappointed with an item, it might be helpful to figure out what exactly i want it to do. i suffer from hanger eye. i tend to love things while they’re still on the hanger. this means that i love them as objects, rather than based on how they work for me.
so now i’m thinking. do i want clothing to enhance my positive features, hide my less celebrated ones, or something else. for me, it’s something else. i tend to be more interested in a cardigan being a perfect color than whether or not it has a V- or round neck, long or short sleeves. tunnel vision for a random single detail, if you will (and i never keep in mind what i have at home and what it might go with – i develop instant amnesia on the spot for anything i own, including something that might be quite similar and therefore would negate the need for the item i’m considering). but then eventually this pretty-hued piece ends up being less useful than one with a round collar and long sleeves might have been. one with small subtle buttons. one that hits right at my hips. one without a collar. if i am most comfortable in pants with a high-waist, or i should say, a true waist, coming up to where my waistline is, shouldn’t i only buy pants with this type of waist (don’t worry, i already know the answer). why do i forget this so often?

are you aware of what you want your clothing to do? do you shop with a mental (or physical) list of your desired criteria? would it help?

Role models

when you are drawn to celeb style, do you understand who/what you are drawn to? to admire someone or be inspired by them is stimulating and satisfying, but in this celeb-hyped day and age, it’s easy to be sold on a package (oh we’re too smart for that, right?), rather than an individual with an actual talent for fashion. if you want someone’s body, partner, career, house, fame, sometimes their style takes on a mythical quality, like it’s an ingredient in their success.
when i find myself being influenced by a red carpet face, i try to isolate the style from the hype. i was amused to be near a college campus at the very beginning of the olsens’ grip on fashion’s focus and see that they were just dressing like hundreds of others, and were not leaders but more so samples of their age group. they were, however, the only ones that would sell a tabloid by being on the cover, because no one was going to care what ruthie glander (totally made up name) was wearing to class.

(the above pictures are meant to illustrate the idea of separating the hype from the actual clothes when they are worn by more famous mortals, and therefore become visually accessible. they do not necessarily reflect the fashion ideals of this blogger... well, maybe the first one is fabulous.)

do you look far and wide for your role models, or just across the aisle/table/elevator/intersection?

Waiting for backup

it happens every time i love what i bought. i take it home, it goes with everything, i feel terrific in it and then it hits me, this absolutely perfect item is precious. oh so so precious. in fact, it's too precious to wear. i must protect it! it has to last forever. i should have bought 2, or 3! i'll never find another.
no, i won't find the same thing, drama queen, but i'll find another equally wonderful garment another time.
if i had multiples of my favorite things, yes, life would be easy, but i would be the style-equivalent of albert einstein with his alleged identical suits. he had other more important things to think about, but i don't.

let's say you don't take it to that extreme. let's say you have a more well-rounded selection. is there still really such a thing as the perfect item? can you have an entire wardrobe of perfect items? if you believed you had the perfect wardrobe and never bought another item, you would in essence become your high school government teacher who was stuck in a wardrobe time-warp because she was, at one point, so wildly satisfied with her sartorial choices that she decided never to ever make another. now i ask you, did you ever spend one single solitary hour of government admiring your teacher's stunning sense of fashion?
the point of selecting clothes for ourselves is not to end the process entirely some day. a wardrobe is never a finished project.
i spent some time today doing some shopping and knowing that it was for the purpose of building a wardrobe, my standards were set quite high. i think this is a good thing, but i also have to remember, when i do find something that i think is wonderful, i should congratulate myself, enjoy it, feel smug, and wear it to shreds. then get back out there and hunt down a new trophy, and repeat.

what do you do when you find perfection? preserve and protect? use and enjoy? buy backup?

Time's a wastin'

i've spent as much as a year thinking about an item before buying it, and i've spotted something on a hanger that had never crossed my mind but bought it on the spot. neither seems to be a predictor of satisfaction. somehow though, i still feel very smart and responsible when i take time before my purchases (but i more often than not i don't). how much time ought to yield a guaranteed good fit though? there's the adage, "sleep on it," which suggests 24 hours, but that's to prove love, not necessarily compatibility.

how long do you wait before making a purchase?

Full circle

i'm told that i was very loyal to dresses in my early youth. floor-length "granny dresses" are my mom's exact words. at some point i moved on and eventually became the denim enthusiast that i am today. without missing a beat, i would respond, "jeans," if posed the question "if you were on a deserted island and could have just one thing to wear, what would it be?" but no one is asking and i'm not on that secluded isle so setting aside how i feel in pants and taking a moment to reflect on how i look in them, i think i may have been on to something in my single-digit years.

though i'm not saying it's all been down-hill since, i would like to recapture some of my early enthusiasm for dresses, shedding some of the stigma i may have attached to them either as too immature or too femmy. the truth is, time has altered my shape a bit and frankly, dresses hide everything. okay, “hide” isn’t the right word, otherwise this post would be about mumus (and it’s not! but quick fashion aside, how freaky are the similarities between this and this?).
dresses are just more flattering on me. is it too big a risk to make something i’ve avoided a mainstay in my new wardrobe?

what would you be curious to revisit from your fashion past?

The Clash said it best

besides buying exactly what i want, i have to remember to wear exactly what i have. there are a number of items waiting semi-patiently in my drawers and in my closet. you can tell they've sort of given up on me. when that crack of light shines through as i come in for a peek, they don't perk up. they know they won't even be considered. so why haven't i give up on them yet? should they stay or should they go?

these are items, mind you, that i adore (see pic. of burberry plaid wool pants - no, that is not me), but do not wear. i often go with a second-tier item in order to save the preferred item for some mythical other time. perhaps if i got rid of the substitutes, i would get down to wearing the great items. one thing that stops me is that great items, for me, are usually real stand outs. i have to get over the concern that i might wear a very memorable pair of pants twice in one week.
game plan - separate items that thrill me from items that are security blanket stand-ins.

do you wear your favorite clothes?