Dec 022014

In connection with a (near) future collaboration opportunity, I picked up the classic Looking Good: Wardrobe Planning and Personal Style Development. I had never read it.

Despite its dated-looking illustrations, this book contains some really useful material. For one, it features several pages of drawings illustrating the use of line in selecting clothing. My thought is this:

if The Triumph of Individual Styleis the equivalent of a college course in the principles of art applied to clothing choices, Looking Good is perhaps analogous to a high school text, a good place for any adult to start.

In looking up links for this post, I discovered the reason I got this book for pennies: there is a newer version, entitled Looking Good . . . Every Day: Style Solutions for Real Women.

In other news, I am busy working on the costumes (my fingertips are cracking and bleeding) for a Christmas play my son-in-law, the music teacher, is directing; the hero and I are doing some serious nesting, now that it is truly all ours; and I have been struggling with insomnia, which I understand is not uncommon at this age and season of life.

More words to come! Happy Holidays! 🙂

Oct 092014

I got a haircut today (October 8, 2014). It is exactly what I asked for and a fabulous cut. My stylist really wanted to do stacked in the back, and I agreed; in fact, if I had sketched my own haircut design this would have been it. So why, when I looked at the back, did I think it was old (albeit stylish) lady hair?

Rerun, from September 11, 2008:
In Staging Your Comeback, Christopher Hopkins hints humorously at how he interprets what clients say.  For example, if you say, “I don’t want it too neat”; he thinks, “she doesn’t want to feel old”.  (And isn’t that the truth?  And more than that, I don’t want to look like an old man.)  If you say, “I don’t want to look frumpy”; he thinks, “she needs more makeup”.  If you haven’t already, buy the book and read the rest of the list yourself.

In answer to the question “What is the most effective way of communicating what you want to your hair-stylist?”, Imogen’s comment is representative of the most commonly recommended way of handling it:

If you have a picture bring it – but look for a picture of someone with the haircut you want who appears to have a similar texture of hair – because what you want may not be possible if your hair won’t do the cut you want.

Interestingly enough, I think the second most popular advice was just to let the stylist decide.  Lots of other good advice in the comments back there.  Describing what you want seems to be the universally ineffective way of doing it.

Anyway, once upon a time, eons ago, I picked up this book – and I mean, picked it up in the bookstore and stood there and read it – which defines and explains the different kinds of hair textures and what kinds of styles work with them.  There’s no substitute for understanding your own hair texture.

The most common communication frustration for my hairdresser, and probably yours too, is people coming in with a picture of a hair style that simply won’t work with their hair.  Which is probably the reason some hairdressers prefer you bring a picture of yourself when you liked your hair.  Which makes no sense to me.  How could I then get something new every fall?

New for Fall 2014. Old lady or trendy?

May 212014

In discovering an “image identity” based upon the yin and yang of facial features and body type, Kibbe’s system falls short in a couple crucial aspects:

  1. He has no “type” for anyone who scores highest in “d” answers on his quiz (d is the delicate yin).
  2. He strongly advises against defining yourself as a combination of types.

Parenthetically, for those who do not have the book:

  • A answers represent sharp yang and are associated with a dramatic personal style.
  • B’s are strong yang; style is natural (as in “sporty” or “relaxed”).
  • C’s are balanced and classic, of course.
  • E is soft yin, romantic.
  • A combination of A’s and E’s defines gamine.

Allow me to propose an alternative way of using Kibbe’s quiz:

  1. Watch the John Kitchener style essences intro video. Make a note of the essences with which you resonate.
  2. Taking your scores from the Kibbe quiz, apply them to the corresponding style essences and figure your percentage. Use “d” answers to identify the “youthful” (aka “ingenue”) category. (I did not include “ethereal” in this exercise.)

My results:

  • The three Kitchener style essences that resonate with me are gamine, classic, and youthful. When I saw the picture of Meg Ryan, I was especially convinced about that last one: I am always getting told I look like Meg Ryan. 😉
  • I am positive I have ZERO dramatic and romantic. Therefore, I added my a’s and my e’s together for my gamine score. (It also occurred to me that my body type, according to The Triumph of Individual Style, is “combination of opposites”, which is Kibbe’s definition of gamine.)
  • I had no “b” answers on my quiz.

Undoubtedly, this is a crude method. My breakdown was:
50% ingenue + 25% classic + 25% gamine.

The percentages may need to be refined, but it is a starting place. If you do not have the book, well, don’t sweat it – how can it really work without a type for mostly d answers? Just choose your style essences from Kitchener’s and start working with them. Have fun!

Edit: This page has helpful suggestions for each type.

May 202014

Like many Christians, I had a vague notion of the concepts yin and yang. Out of ignorance, and possibly fear, I avoided such research and discussion for the most part.

But there is much more for me to understand about putting together a look rooted in personal artistic expression. From time to time, yin/yang comes across my metaphorical desk, most recently when Imogen Lamport posted a mini-series about it on Inside Out Style. Using the terms advancing and receding (for yang and yin, respectively) brought to my mind the alternative wording “advancing” and “receiving”. That opens up a whole new world of understanding!

What if we just thought of yin and yang as vocabulary lacking in the English language? In The God-Shaped Brain, Dr. Tim Jennings likens the circle of life to the expression of God’s character of love through nature. As I see it, everything healthy is continually in a cycle of giving and receiving.

More about yin and yang, style essences, and personal idiom to come. In the meantime:

May 192014

Alot has changed since I started this blog; for one, there is WAY more valuable information accessible via the Internet. Lately I have discovered some useful concepts, and some things about myself. I am having fun again. 🙂

Over the course of the last few months, my thoughts have changed about what colors look good on me. If my coloring is so muted, why do I look so much better with *white* next to my face? And when I took that pile of tee-shirts into the dressing room at Target, why was the deep apricot the worst color, and the tomato red the best? As I explore the wearing of brighter colors, I feel more like myself.

Psychologist Diana Divecha writes of her own rejection of fashion’s values in an article at The Monthly:

As a teenager in the ’70s, in a small town in northern Minnesota, I sewed most of my own clothes. For inspiration, I studied Glamour magazine’s “Dos and Don’ts”—which featured girls with visible panty lines or the “wrong” blouse—and was a little terrified that there were rules of fashion that were arbitrated from New York and enforced by the printing of innocent girls’ dress violations in a magazine. I boycotted the pressure and decided to dress in a way that said looks don’t matter, I’d rather be taken seriously.

In the 1980s, I got my first academic job in a mostly male-dominated department. My colleagues commented that I added “estrogen” to the room and wondered aloud that I could be pregnant and smart at the same time. Being a woman was clearly a liability, something to downplay, and so I retreated even further into baggy pants, ugly boots and, I hoped, credibility.

What makes dressing fun? Using your clothing and accessories, your personal style idiom, as an expression of your inner self. Diana Divecha learned to do this by booking an appointment with John Kitchener and Hella Tsaconas. Most of us need to figure it out ourselves.

Conforming to the rules and expectations of others is confusing and frustrating. This John Kitchener video answered alot of my questions. I can’t wait to get to work on my wardrobe!

Feb 052014

Body image continues to be a sensitive topic. It breaks my heart to see some of the things I see on Facebook about what people say to each other; and yet I don’t think not being free to talk about it at all is healthy either.  Please, can we just be kind and honest?

Browse body image books.

Some people have been wounded by messages from their parents; others from teachers, babysitters, relatives, or “friends”. And then there’s popular media.

Much has been made of media influence on self-image. It certainly adds fuel to the fire of comparison:

But when they measure themselves by one another and compare themselves with one another, they are without understanding.  2 Corinthians 10:12, ESV 

When I was growing up, I read alot of fashion magazines. (See Vildy’s comments on previous post for a great illustration of that influence.) But media delivery has undergone radical change in the intervening years. What would you say is the source of the most dangerous body image messages today?

Jan 012014

Health – physical, mental, emotional, and etc. – is arguably the greatest contributing factor to both happiness and appearance.  When I was in this week for my semi-annual teeth cleaning, the hygienist made the comment that how we take care of ourselves in our 50s determines our quality of life in our 80s.  I am 50 now. Thanks to Sonicare and oil pulling, I should still have teeth!

During 2013 I took a number of healthy steps in other areas, including joining the YMCA.  Some Most of those moves I could not have foreseen a year ago.

While in Hawaii, I read The God-Shaped Brain: How Changing Your View of God Transforms Your Life. Written by a Christian psychiatrist, it offers a refreshing paradigm from which to view our relationship with God, as well as alot of brain science. For 2014, I hope to grow in brain health. To that end, I am looking for ways to incorporate helping others (aka altruism) into the fabric of my life.

What is one aspect of your own health you would like to improve in 2014?

Jul 222011

There was a fair amount of discussion in the comments on the previous post, and more that I wanted to bring up concerning David Zyla’s color system based on your own personal coloring.  My opinions are as follows:

Orange:  is either found in the hand, making it a romantic color, or in the eye.

Suggestion:  it is probably safe to widen our range of reds beyond just the “pinched fingertip” color to include all the reds and oranges that harmonize with the palm.

Purple:  one of the “dramatic” colors, the colors of the veins.  Could also be present in the eye.

Suggestion:  he does say to pick out several colors of the blood vessels in your wrist.  But I personally don’t see these as “dramatic” colors, necessarily.  Blues are “trustworthy” colors.

Zyla mentions in the book that mixing the colors according to his recipe results in an individualized color plan (my words).  The concept of the formality of each neutral bears a little explanation here.  I think when he says “the color of the ring around your iris is your most formal neutral”, he means not that it is the most formal color that you have in your coloring, but that it is the color that a man should use for his first business suit and a woman for her LBD. Admittedly, I am thinking of a couple of family members who have black as their second neutral, but not their first.

And Amy asks:

I never wear my “white”, I feel naked in it. Does that happen to you others? It’s too close to my skin color.

Jul 202011

At Amy’s suggestion, I have been reading The Color of Style: A Fashion Expert Helps You Find Colors that Attract Love, Enhance Your Power, Restore Your Energy, Make a Lasting Impression, and Show the World Who You Really Are.  In it, designer David Zyla takes the idea of a personal color palette to a whole ‘nother level, adding some useful concepts that I have not heard from anyone else.  You can find his plan for your 8 basic colors on his website.

He then goes on to make connections between coloring and personality, defining 24 archetypes.  It’s entertaining.  IMHO, his “must-haves” and “must avoids” are hit and miss.  Throughout the book there are “take it” and “leave it” recommendations, but overall I recommend the book.  It will make my collection.

My favorite “take it”:  the color of the ring around your iris = your own personal “black”.

Mine is actually one of my all-time favorite colors: deep pewter gray. The hero’s is a lighter, bluer gray. What color is yours?

Jul 132011

blackcottonshirtreversedyed1.jpgAs you may or may not know, I am not a huge fan of wearing black. I am, however, a huge fan of really cheap, natural-fiber clothing that fits fabulously.

Enter Contemporary Dyecraft: Over 50 Tie-dye Projects for Scarves, Dresses, T-shirts and MoreDye Craft Books).  This book explains simply how to use bleach to transform black clothing into a warmer and lighter neutral shade, similar to tie-dye.  Pictured here:  my first attempt.  (The shirt was 99 cents at Value Village; 55% cotton/ 45% tencel, it was faded-out solid black and features black stitching and a side zipper.)

This concept has tremendous potential!  For those on a budget, black clothing is abundantly available at thrift; for bleaching, who cares if it’s faded-out?  If the look were perfect for one’s idiom and lifestyle, indeed, an entire wardrobe could be built around this one look.

Have you ever purposely used bleach to transform a garment? 

dye craft books)