Mar 102015

Over the weekend, I stumbled onto the Style Identity series being presented on the blog Truth is Beauty. I recommend it to you. The quote I wish to illustrate here is:

The effect of clothing context on our apparent masculinity or femininity is analogous to the effect of color on our skin.

The apparent color of your skin changes, for better or worse, depending on what color is next to it. That’s because of simultaneous contrast.

And the apparent qualities of your face and figure, including the apparent masculinity or femininity, change depending on the context that surrounds it.

If almost everything in the frame reads as boyish, then the viewer mainly notices what’s not boyish – and so the Gamine’s feminine qualities actually stand out more.

The more boyish the context, the more beautiful Gamines look.

From Style Identities: The Gamine

Do you see the brilliance in that? How beautiful it would be if mothers of tomboys could get comfortable with that and quit trying to force the pretty little dresses and such!

In my own life, it made me think of these two pictures I took the day I got my hair cut.

Since learning I don’t technically need my glasses all the time, I have gradually decreased wearing them. They are mostly reading glasses now. In the same time period, I have also changed how I wear my hair, and I’ve been getting alot of compliments.

I do like my hair. But I’m also wondering, could people be responding to seeing me without glasses? When I got these glasses, I really liked them. Now that I know how glasses are supposed to fit, I know they are a little bit wide for me. Two problems with that extra width:

  1. It makes my eyes look very closely spaced. Not quite cross -eyed, but you know what I mean.
  2. My eyes also look smaller; therefore, I appear more … shall we be PC and say yang rather than masculine?

Alot more could be said. Allow me to just close with this important point about fitting glasses:
glasses should line up with the sides of the face.


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May 272014

According to Kibbe, the use of separates is a distinctive of the artistic expression of each style type. I distilled the 13 categories down to these four flavors:

  1. The Dramatic is best in a powerful head-to-toe look, rather than mix-and-match.
  2. The Romantic combines soft, drapy separates in a blended – rather than contrasting – manner.
  3. The Natural type majors in mix-and-match, and appears matronly in an overly matchy-matchy look.
  4. Gamine use of separates creates a well-coordinated look with alot of animated detail.

(I know someone is going to ask. Concerning Classics, he says, “Use carefully and sparingly. An obvious use of separates is counterproductive to your elegance. Make sure colors, textures, and prints blend together to maintain your smooth visual lines.”)

While the capsule wardrobe concept makes sense to me from a mathematical and theoretical perspective, it never seems to work. I like things decided. Could the use of separates in one’s wardrobe be connected to the J and the P in MBTI?

Andrea Pflaumer suggests young moms hang entire outfits together. I suggest that as a strategy for any artistic J type.

P’s may want to do as the hero does:

he has five pairs of gray, black or brown trousers and probably 15 dress shirts, none of which would clash with any of those pants.

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Apr 152014

When is a look enough? When is it too much? After posting about the 16 12 point accessory “rule”, I got feedback from people who, like me, feel that is alot. I also feel like there is too much structure to these “rules”. What about creativity? Finally, there is the concept of personality within personal style idiom: some of us prefer to have our clothes carry the interest, rather than our accessories.
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In the picture below, the pieces are strikingly simple. All together, the look is relatively complex, very interesting, and appropriate for an evening of Van Gogh and Merlot. In the high fashion jewelry business professionally, the girl pictured nevertheless chose to accessorize with only one extra ring and pair of earrings.

Her count:
– 2 garments and 1 pair of shoes = 3
– 3 accessories
– around her face: stylish, purple/auburn hair; beauty makeup; a crystal dermal piercing.


Without counting any of the interesting details in her clothes, this outfit would be a 9; adding an extra color, as per the previously-mentioned system, brings the total to 10 for this outfit. I suggest it should be higher.

I would add a point for each print (3) and a point for the studs on the shoes.

The takeaway: evaluate your entire look for points of interest.

Mar 262014

I have always disliked lipstick. Why? I wish I knew. Although, as I write this, it occurs to me that, as a generally big-picture person, it makes sense that as I grow into my own style idiom I first focus on clothes and hair, then shoes, followed by the finer details such as jewelry and makeup. It is a process. More detail-oriented women may begin by dressing more simply and completing their ensembles with a little jewelry and makeup, later moving into wardrobe upgrades.

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I find, as I get older, that I like bare lips less than I used to, so I am in somewhat of a conundrum and not very motivated to get out of it. Recently, however, I have noticed a little more interest in trying some of the new lip color products out there; especially since the lip look of the Spring 2014 moment is orange. 🙂

Then, sometime in the past several days, my internal ramblings took me to the intersection of the following thoughts:

My epiphanic conclusion:

lipstick is a big picture visual cue that this is a styled look.

Mar 112014

Anomaly: someone or something that is abnormal or incongruous, or does not fit in. When similarity occurs, the dissimilar is emphasized.

via Spokane Falls Community College

Imagine a sea of black dresses; you are the only one wearing white. Does that thought make you uncomfortable? Why or why not?

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I have heard people talk as if drawing any attention to yourself by way of appearance is immodest, almost immoral. I have also heard the view that either wanting to blend in or wanting to stand out is problematic. But, in a healthy social environment, IMO, any position on the continuum could be appreciated without judgment.

Typically, being comfortable standing out is associated with extraversion. In my ideal world, I would be wearing a white dress – or a color – of a similar cut and/or style to the blacks; thereby signally simultaneously both unity and individuality. And actually, that is exactly more or less what happened this past Opening Night: I wore a winter white dress with large black flower print, the rest of the theater company peeps all dressed in black. It felt perfectly appropriate.

Dec 022013

In a word: no. While I am not in any sense an expert, my research into Myers-Briggs typology for the purpose of exploring personal style idiom has not turned up any expert saying that an individual may change type over a lifetime.

I have, however, turned up a couple of reasons why a person may have differing outcomes that make it appear that type has changed.  Or just make the whole system seem confusing 😉

The most obvious reason for differing outcomes is the fact that each pair of letters is measuring a dichotomy of preference and most people are not extreme in any characteristic; therefore, depending on how each question strikes you on any given day, you may easily flip-flop back and forth between, for example, introvert and extravert.  

The other reason I have turned up is that we grow. Officially called “type development”, we grow into all four functions – that is: sensing and intuition, thinking and feeling – in a predictable sequence. From the Myers-Briggs Foundation site:

 As we grow and develop, the different functions develop. The timing of this development has been the subject of considerable study. It is generally believed that the dominant generally develops up to age 7, the auxiliary up to age 20, the tertiary in the 30s and 40s and the inferior or fourth function at midlife or later.

In my own life, the strongest evidence of this has been the interest in “doing things” that guided so much of my 30s and 40s.  By “doing things”, I mean cooking, crafting, and other reality-based, task-type functions.  My tertiary function is sensing.  Unfortunately, I never got really good or fast at anything, although I am tolerably competent in the kitchen 😉

My conclusion? Your MBTI might be slightly more reliable when you are younger.  Especially the two letters in the middle.

Nov 152013

Since I said I would try to get these thoughts all out this week, and it is 3pm on Friday afternoon and I still have to shower and get dressed for Opening Night of The Fantasticks at EWU, I am putting both of the Feeling types in one post.

Feeling, as opposed to thinking, is associated with fun, with fashion, and with fitting in.

The FJ is decisive and creates outfits that are coordinated in unexpected ways. The FP is eclectic, looking normal in by far the widest range of styles, but probably needs an FJ friend to help her know when to get rid of stuff. Both types probably do well shopping at Target. Preview Target’s Black Friday Ad

What would you add about the Feeling types?

Nov 122013

Realizing I may be inviting trouble if the concepts are a tad incomplete, I just want to push myself to get the whole bundle out there.  This week, if at all possible.  Today – my thoughts on the TJ individual.

TJ = Traditional & Refined.  There just is no J word which comes even close to describing what I mean:  appropriate, tasteful, and somewhat formal.

It seems to me, in many ways, a woman of this style type would have the easiest time shopping and find loads of good deals at department store sales. When time is tight, why not shop online? 20% off at Macy’s Holiday Preview Sale with the code GIFT at! Offer valid 11/13-11/17

I believe this is a common-ish designation among us in this discussion, so I hope to hear from a few of you. What are some typical TJ strategies and pitfalls?

Nov 112013

In Myers-Briggs “code”, the T stands for thinking and the P for perceiving. I will leave it up to you to investigate, if those terms are not familiar. As I have been ruminating on the connections to style for a good long time now, I figured it was time to start throwing my thoughts out there.

TP = Tidy + Practical

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Characterized by simple pieces and established silhouettes, the TP style is, in my mind, best illustrated by what the hero wears.

Leisure: t-shirts and lots o’ pockets
Business casual: long-sleeved button-downs and twill pants

That’s about it. (Allow me to, parenthetically, express a pet peeve here: button-down is a specific COLLAR style, not “buttons down the front”.) While women’s clothing is always more complicated, I don’t think there is anything wrong with simplifying.
A TP woman could:

  • Stick closely to favorite classics and let someone else shop for her
  • Buy multiples
  • Spend more for perfect; it will get worn out!

A TP could also neglect to throw things with holes or stains away and wind up with a bulging drawer full of painting clothes and nothing respectable to wear. 😉

Do you have any favorite feminine translations of this style? IMO, the female detective on TV’s Psych wears it well.

Sep 102013

Wrapping up my mini-series on the Four Temperaments and personal style idiom, this post is about the sensing perceiver, The Experiencer, aka The Artisan.  It should come as no surprise that I consider this style type straight-up what is popularly known as Sporty. Practical. Utilitarian. Lots of pockets.

Sporty is not to be confused with athletic, which IMO falls into the domain of The Traditionalist (Classic). In case you missed the other Four Temperaments posts, The Conceptualizer and The Idealist are the two intuitive types. Note that the sensing types separate into temperaments based on the J/P attribute, while the intuitives divide on T/F.  Also note that, among the general population, S outnumbers N approximately two to one.  Therefore, I conclude, it behooves us iNtuitives to pay attention to the looks being offered to our corresponding (J or P) Sensing counterparts. Make sense?

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According to the Keirsey Temperament Website, the four types are based in human motivation: what we are interested in and therefore the majority of our communication is about and how we take action to move toward our goals.

Communication: Concrete vs. Abstract: At times, of course, everyone addresses both sorts of topics, but in their daily lives, and for the most part, Concrete people talk about reality, while Abstract people talk about ideas.

Action: Utilitarian vs. Cooperative: These two ways of acting can overlap, certainly, but as they lead their lives, Utilitarian people instinctively, and for the most part, do what works, while Cooperative people do what’s right.

As Concrete Utilitarians, Artisans speak mostly about what they see right in front of them, about what they can get their hands on, and they will do whatever works, whatever gives them a quick, effective payoff, even if they have to bend the rules.

Hmmm. No wonder they are the most likely to be wearing something with holes or stains in it! 🙂