May 032015

I’ve been thinking about how pattern can break up an area and make it look smaller. So, just for fun, I thought we’d look at swimsuits in prints! (The original 2009 illustrations for this post had disappeared, so I rebuilt it with swimwear from Modcloth. Pictures contain affiliate links.)
Wade a Minute Swim Dress in CactiWade a Minute Swim Dress in RougeIn the first pair, the print works well to draw the eye in, creating a column effect.
Wade a Minute Swim Dress in FlamingosWade a Minute Swim Dress in Marine Blue

In the second pair, the slimming effect of the print is diluted by the change of the strap color.

The third pair reminds me of the saying “round adds pounds”. Not that she looks large at all; it’s just that the navy and white polka dot isn’t significantly more flattering than the solid red.
Seaside Muse Swim Dress in Monochrome DotsSeaside Muse Swim Dress in Red

What are your thoughts concerning (slimming effects of) prints?

Apr 282015

IMG_3787.PNGAnother of the basic body shape elements is the arc waist. Basically, like the cinch waist, the arc waist is smaller than hips and shoulders; unlike the cinch waist, the arc waist continues in – ahem – an arc from below the arm to the top of the leg. 

Personally, until I understood this, I was very self-conscious about my thighs. When you understand your body type, it becomes just a body – not a collection of features that cause off-the-rack clothes to look bad. 😉

The hip shape that goes with the arc waist is called a low hip, meaning that the widest part is the top of the thigh. Styles that are fitted through the midsection and flare below the hips are natural for this body type.  

Apr 202015


When defining a body type and the styles which harmonize, I will sometimes use the term “cinch waist”. Anatomically, what I mean is a body featuring a waist nipped in above a high hip shelf, the high hip appearing wider than the low hip/upper thigh. 

A cinch waist is flattered by, among other things, garments which are – ahem – cinched at the waist. The high hip accompanying the cinch waist wears narrow skirts and trousers beautifully.

To illustrate, I built you this Polyvore. 

And here’s a special Earth Day offer: Get addl. 20% OFF to celebrate Earth Day. Buying used is green! Save on all your favorite brands like Lululemon, Free People, Anthropologie. Offer ends 04/22/2015.

Apr 092015

You walk outside, look down … aaaaghh! It “matched” in the house! Now what to do? Unfortunately, not much. Maybe mutter under your breath that you’ll never try to match beiges again.

Pairing orange and purple, or chartreuse and teal, is not usually the source of the stealth clash. No, usually it’s something like trying to put orange-brown with purple-brown, or wearing chartreuse-taupe with teal-taupe. They’re neutrals, right? And neutrals go with everything, right? Uh, not exactly. Even blacks don’t all go together.

This has been on the metaphorical front burner ever since my very practical daughter decided she wasn’t going to buy green pants, because she likes to wear green shirts (and she should – she has green eyes). The hero also avoids green trousers, either from fear of clash or fear of looking like a green bean 😉

Some thoughts on building a wardrobe without clash:

  • Always buy the coordinating piece if it’s available. Lol
  • Be very careful in trying to assemble a do-it-yourself suit. It may be better to choose another color the contrasts or blends.

  • Consider undertones. Interior design color expert Maria Killam says there are three types of beige: pink-beige, green-beige, and yellow-beige. They don’t blend; they clash. Grays and browns also have undertones. I recently ended up, via thrifting and the clothing exchange, with a (purple) gray pair of ankle pants and a three-quarter sleeve (green) gray blazer. So close, but yet so far …
  • Using a pattern with a small amount of the color you are trying to match allows being less precise.

What thoughts would you add?

Captain Obvious says: save this link and use it when you shop Thank you so much!

From 4/23/2007, originally. I am gonna go out on a limb here, in April, 2015, and declare my neutrals: yellow-beige (goes with my hair), purple-gray (for the ring around my iris), and orange-brown (the other day, one of my little grandsons saw my eyes in the sun and said they were orange!). Making the statement should clarify my shopping.

Apr 072015

Before considering how to mix prints, it is a good idea to examine whether you should mix prints. Is the idea exciting to you?

IMO, or perhaps I should say IMP (in my philosophy), style choices are driven by both external and internal indicators. In the case of wearing multiple prints together:

  1. External indicators: your appearance has alot of visual pattern (patterned smoothness), such as streaked hair and/or freckles. Sometimes texture, such as curly hair, gives an impression of pattern, as well.
  2. Internal indicators: a high-energy personality. Putting things together in less-expected ways is also indicative of a creative approach to life that can be supported by mixing patterns.

In the matter of the first, I do not qualify. Color-blocking (as seen here) works. Most anyone can wear one well-chosen pattern at a time. But my freckles are nearly gone and my hair is almost, but not quite, uniformly white. HOWEVER, I still feel more comfortable mixing prints than not. So I might do it 😉

Of all the technical aspects involved in styling, print-mixing is one of the only ones that comes somewhat naturally to me; therefore, it is more challenging for me to to explain the how. I refer you to such experts as Lauren Conrad, Tory Burch, and Clinton Kelly.

Do you like to mix prints?

Mar 262015

When I started blogging, in 2005, flares were waning and skinnies were emerging; now, in 2015, we are seeing the flipside of that trend.

Fashion cycles aside, here’s my March 2006 rundown on how each of the basic figure types works with the skinny jean silhouette, and the 2015 corrections:

Hourglass ~ With square apparently equal hips and shoulders and a nipped-in arc waist, the trick to wearing skinny jeans is to have a definite flair from the waist to the hips, a jacket or top that is slim through the torso and at least as wide as the thigh ending above it. As long as the hourglass shape is maintained in the upper body, the legs can taper (as in tucked into boots) or be straight (same width at knee and at ankle). Alternatively, extend the top to below the widest part of the thigh.

Rectangle ~ Essentially a vertical look, with shoulders and hips (and waist) equally wide, balance is maintained by keeping a straight shape. Only the skinniest rectangles (what I call a pencil) will be tucking their jeans into their boots. A heavier rectangle can still look balanced by wearing a longer topper, extending the rectangle shape to mid-thigh, and/or using the boots themselves to add a little width to the ankles.

Oval ~ Loose, drapy top over skinny jeans tucked into boots; that is an oval silhouette. Keep the shoulders narrow and the waist filled in.

Figure-eight ~ Because the shoulders are sloped in both figure-eight and oval, a narrower hem is natural. Figure-eight needs waist definition. Curvy thighs? Leave the legs out of the boots.

Triangle ~ Boot-cut is your skinny jean.Wear a longer top that creates the triangle shape, with skinny jeans under.

Wedge (Inverted triangle)~ Wider shoulders and skinnier legs are a natural with skinny jeans. Be careful to keep things close to the body around the middle, or your legs may end up looking like toothpicks.

I remember how chic tapered pants seemed when they became fashionable in the 80s. With this trend to skinny jeans, I’m keeping my jacket with shoulder pads. It’s only a matter of time. (Lol. I was wrong about that one!)

After reworking this material, I found Into Mind’s post: Why I don’t believe in dressing for my body type, very much worth reading. Honestly, if style advice seems like so much fashion legalism, that’s no fun. Even with what I have written here, they are only suggestions and there are many other ways to create an aesthetically-pleasing visual appearance.

2015 readers: how do skinnies figure into your wardrobe today? How about knee-high boots? Personally, I have uncoupled the two, finding it to be an over-saturated look.

Mar 172015

This is a fun season. I don’t mean spring, although this year (my first with an empty nest) is not bad so far; I mean this season in my professional/sartorial life. After years of reading, studying, talking, blogging, and generally obsessing about what to wear and, more significantly, how to know; I have a whole new world of technical information available to ponder. And one of my favorite things to do is to ponder a number of ideas concurrently. You never know what insights might emerge.

So, one day last week, these two excellent posts landed in my inbox on the same day:

And these two posts really got me thinking: about why I haven’t warmed up to the capsule wardrobe concept, about why it doesn’t really feel like it would work for me, about for which body types the styles pictured would work. Along with all the other resident concepts knocking around in my brain recently, these two confirmed my thinking that a capsule wardrobe is doable. But I don’t think it is as easy as we have been led to believe.

The three complications:

  1. silhouette: ideally, if I am to wear a fitted skirt, it will be with a top with a little volume, and vice versa. The best capsule wardrobes would be assembled of pieces which, when combined, create a unified silhouette.
  2. proportion: how many times have I tried to make an outfit with a really great top and bottom that don’t actually meet in the middle? It will be easier to create a cohesive capsule from pieces with length proportions which play well together.
  3. color harmony: even if I get the color values right and there is no apparent clash, there are just some colors I don’t feel as comfortable wearing together. Color combining preferences seem to be rooted in personality. What color is your coat? The simplest capsule wardrobe would include pants only in colors you like with it (your coat probably covers your skirts, otherwise same concept).

This is not a comprehensive list, just a peak into what that burning smell is coming from my ears. After chewing on this for a few days, an example of a smart casual capsule wardrobe that I think really works with these concepts arrived in my inbox via Youlookfab.


Mar 122015

As part of the slow process of updating the information on my blog to match what I know now about applying artistic principles stylishly, I am trying to pull out an old post once/week and edit/republish. Originally posted October 18, 2006, this deals with combining colors, aka “color harmony”.

Some 2015 blog readers may not be aware that in the early days there was a convention of taking outfit photos without faces. Lol! I will also point out that my 2006 self was wearing pants that were slightly too tight. See the horizontal lines? And this look would have been a little better with a shorter jacket and top.

On what appeared to be the final sunny Saturday of the Fall, I chose this outfit to wear to a women’s conference. Doing so, I stumbled onto an extremely useful color combining technique.

When I bought this jacket, I wondered if I would be able to use it. Although it fits nicely, the color is much too intense for my personal coloring. Actually, I now know, as a trained stylist (2015), that intensity is not the problem with this violet, but the principle remains true. But here’s the trick: the top is the same color as the jacket — only TINTED (white added) like my hair and skin. As I discover my signature style, I am finding a monochromatic color harmony featuring a bright and either a shade, a tint, or both is a good formula for me.

More good ideas on this topic:

  • Jennifer commented: “This is a great tip! It works in reverse–if you’re darker, like me, and you get the urge to wear light pastels.”
  • My dear, late, blog-friend Wendy added: “I also think that if there’s a neutral that particularly suits you (i.e. black, gray, brown) you can take the brights you might not ordinarily wear and mix them in. It works particularly well if the neutral top has a collar or high neckline.”
Feb 262015

I’m bringing back this accessory post from May of 2007 for Throwback Thursday because it goes hand-in-hand with the concept of the Facial Themes Analysis, which of course I did not know about when I initially wrote this.

Casually mentioning that dcrmom could use some fun earrings to anchor attention around her face when wearing the red top, I think I stumbled onto something. As highlighting the face is the most important task of any ensemble, there are probably lots of other ways to use accessories that can be added to my neckline advice to do the job.

Let’s just consider this brainstorming. I’ll go first:

  • Pendant necklace: one that hits at the proper balance point. Bonus if the pendant shape echoes the shape and/or color of the eyes.
  • Headband. In scale with the wearer’s facial features, color could be used to create a frame (by matching the top) or to focus attention on the eyes.
  • When selecting earrings, consider where the shape of the earring draws the eye. While I’m fond of more dangly earrings, but they may not tend to draw attention directly to my face as much as my daughter’s little tiny studs that mimic her “sparkles” (what I call freckles).

Okay, now it’s up to you embellishment people:  What are your best accessorizing tips?

Feb 242015

Are you an accessories person? In my Essential Series of style services, I offer a Facial Themes Analysis to help with selecting accessories and defining the best prints. This image consulting service is available via email to clients in Spokane and around the world.

But you might be wondering, “What is a Facial Themes Analysis”? That’s reasonable. Using a photograph, I trace your face and then look for patterns. image. Repeating those patterns in your accessories will enhance your natural beauty. I also identify the scale of your features, and other artistic elements relating to necklines, accessories, and prints.

In this photo, shamelessly lifted from YouTube, you see a beautiful woman enhancing the triangle shapes in her face (see her lower eyelid?) with her v-neckline and her side bangs. Analyzing your face for line and shape is difficult, but ever-so-valuable in selecting the details you wear near it.