Feb 172015

Since the early days of this blog, I have advocated a concept I called the uniform template. Basically, it is a formula of pieces which create a look you feel comfortable wearing in a given season and lifestyle segment. for example, I used the following templates last summer (illustration):

Leisure – shorts and sandals + tee + blazer
Casual – dress and summery flats
Active – yoga pants plus sleeveless top

Recently, I began to doubt the concept. Is it a little bit boring to repeat the same formula every day? I doubted until I began exploring the minimalist wardrobe-building material at Into Mind. What I call uniform template, she calls proportion. And it was the use of that particular word that made me realize the brilliance of the idea.

One of the more complicated elements in an outfit is the proportions. And it is a big deal! Once you have a really great outfit design, doesn’t it make sense to replicate it, rather than starting over from scratch? Using different colors, fabrics, and accessories will create enough variety that you will not look like you are wearing the same thing – a uniform.

I have reached a couple of conclusions on this topic –

  1. I think I like the idea of changing the vocabulary from “uniform template” to “proportion template”. Like? Or perhaps there is an even better alternative.
  2. I want to offer this, the creation of a personalized proportion template, as an add-on service to the Style Line Analysis.

What I would do: starting with the base you like to use (bottom and shoes), for the particular lifestyle segment, I would design a proportion template for your unique body type including the shape of the skirt or pants, how long the top should be, placement of the belt, etc.

Oct 172014

Allow me to state the obvious:
Anytime you appear in public wearing something completely of your own choosing, it could be considered “Street Style”

While that may seem too obvious for print, to me it is a helpful thought. Why? For the sheer inspiration value! Remember school? The great thing about it was you could really wear whatever you wanted, subject to the weather and your ability to withstand peer pressure. (Of course, in High School, it helped to talk your friends into wearing a dress the same day.)

For the past many years, I have aspired to dress in Smart Casual when I was out and about; at home, it was always something that would not be ruined if I happened to splash bleach on it – as if I was actually deep-cleaning on a daily basis 😉

Now, as I transition to (image) professional, I still have a lifestyle with few restrictions on what to wear – aside from artistic requirements. Most days, I go to the gym and run errands in the morning, then work in the afternoon. I can wear whatever I want, without regard for the persistent peer pressure (in my head) to not dress UP any more than strictly necessary. But who, at the YMCA (or any of those other places) is going to critique what I happen to be wearing?
imagePhoto shamelessly ripped from Pinterest.
In a sense, it is because the places I go are primarily “in between” places, where people go incidentally dressed as they are. So, if I think of my walking around clothes as “Street Style”, that allows me even greater flexibility than “smart casual”. While I probably will never wear a ball gown, I could wear a tutu (that is, a “tulle skirt” – sounds more respectable).

Hey, what are some other settings that allow the flexibility to wear “Street Style”? There are, no doubt, many; I find that often my perceived limitations are self-imposed 😉

Aug 062014

20140805-144534-53134893.jpgWhat I wore: what I would wear to any daytime wedding held in a church.

(Btw, I am not wearing glasses here just because, but the hair – that is something new and different and related to the Personal Stylist training.)

As mentioned yesterday, I don’t actually have alot of options. I have this dress and these shoes; therefore, I needed to wear them together. Lol. Thankfully, my daughter, the jeweler, has her office, complete with her entire collection, in the room next to mine; although, in this case, I didn’t help myself to anything except a pair of earrings, which you can’t really see, that sort of help tie the shoes and the dress together.

That said, there were some differences between what I usually see worn at weddings around The Great Northwest and what we observed at this celebration (the groom was from Mexico, the bride from Colombia). For example, what the musicians wore:

Some tips, should you find yourself invited to such an event:

  • Wear color. The more colorful, the better!
  • Don’t be afraid to wear the same color as the wedding party.
    Typically, I think it is considered unusual to dress in the specific wedding colors, but I have never seen so much coral scattered throughout the congregation as I did at this wedding! The photographer’s dress appeared to be a simpler, street-length dress from the exact fabric of the bridesmaid dresses (which is actually very practical in making her not stand out).
  • Wear as high heels as you wish, but then bring shoes you can dance in. 🙂
  • 20140805-150020-54020636.jpg

Aug 052014

When I did my wardrobe/costume design plan for this summer, I focused on the daily–wear segments: leisure and casual. But I have had a few social occasions. Some outfits have been hits, some have been misses. And I am getting really good at picking out the misses!

In other news, the hero and I will soon be empty-nesters. Hopefully, that will mean a better space for taking pictures.

In the meantime, here is my Summer social segment, in pictures:


None of these is perfect.

  1. The gray one on the left, I am to certain about. It seems so colorless! Lol.
  2. The brown dress is good, but the shoes are gone! Who knew that the reason I never wear them is those straight, horizontal lines that make my legs look chunky?
  3. I am gonna cut off the white maxi to knee-length, possibly creating a half-sleeve from the fabric.
  4. The black and white I bought last week for a dollar, wore it twice, and now I am not certain about it either. Something about the proportion.
  5. Finally, the cream and black, with the giant, stylized, black flower, has an unfortunate horizontal design element placement right across the thigh.

I really need to go shopping.

Jun 042014

As I finish up this week’s wardrobe design project- lifestyle analysis, it occurs to me that my pie chart will make alot more sense in light of this “classic” post; therefore, I am re-running it first.

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According to Sherry Maysonave, in her book Casual Power, six distinct levels of clothing are currently considered casual. No wonder we’re confused!

Her categories:

  1. Active Casual,
  2. Rugged Casual (also called “outdoorsy”),
  3. Sporty Casual (sportswear which is not athletic, but street wear),
  4. Smart Casual (or “snappy”),
  5. Dressy Casual,
  6. and Business Casual

How does this correspond with my lifestyle segments? The first three are what I consider leisure, the second set of three fall into the casual category.

Leisure = The least formal. Includes all athletic-wear and shorts. Jeans are usually leisure, and always when worn with athletic shoes, message t-shirts, and sweatshirts (including polar fleece).

Casual = Nicer, but still fairly relaxed. Due to geographical variations, I prefer to not define this category too precisely. Lunch with your boss, your pastor, or your grandma requires casual clothing. Business casual fits here.

If my career depended on it, which it would if I aspired to a career, I would define casual more … definitively. But on the other hand, why would I need to? We could all just read the book.

In the meantime, let’s discuss:

  • which category of casual might be under-represented in your wardrobe?
  • which category do you wish people would get straight?
  • does this inspire any style goals or improvements?

Living in the Great Northwest, I envision a snappy rugged casual (outdoor leisure) look to replace wearing grubbies for gardening and/ or active casual (athletic wear) for dog-walking.

May 292014

I’m re-running this, one of my very early posts, because I think the concept is basic and it is foundational to my lifestyle analysis project on which I am embarking. Whether you have a mental pie chart or actually use one of the links here to build one, you need to know how much of your life you spend in which kinds of clothes.

Recently the trend in fashion advice books has been to draw yourself a pie chart, based on some form of lifestyle segmentation, in order to visualize the level of need in each category. What I found for you: a web-site that will do your pie chart for free. You can even choose the colors!  I also found a web-site where you can download applets to make pie charts and graphs for use on your site.

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, is to build your own pie chart, based on your own lifestyle. Decide first whether you need to split any of my suggested categories into two or more; say, if your office has Casual Friday every week and you want to add a business casual segment. For the value of each segment, enter the number of times per week you dress for that lifestyle. I mean, each time you get dressed (every time the baby spits up or … ). That’s really all there is to it!

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Apr 172014

This previously-published post dates back to 2006; I just biffed the shoes last year. Of course, I see things much differently now, eight years later, so I will go through and add in italics my choices for this year. Timing is the same though – I painted my toenails and wore Chacos this last weekend 🙂

Summer has officially arrived! Okay, not really, but it’s trying, and this past week has seen some annual milestones: bye-bye scraps of blue toenail polish leftover from last year, hello fresh paint job; all my linen and sleeveless out from deep storage; the first toughen-up-the-feet outing in my Chacos.

So, other than celebrating what I’m calling Toe Liberation Day, the purpose of this post is to outline my thinking on how many pairs of shoes a person needs: one per lifestyle segment, per season. Two pairs in any category worn most days, in order to be able to alternate. My summer wardrobe is so simple, here’s what it looks like:

Leisure: My flip-flops. I wear them around the house, never for driving, and with swimwear. My Chacos are strictly leisure now.

Casual: My everyday shoes. My Chacos have black, brown, and khaki straps; they go with everything. I could use sandals in this category, but they are hard to find. In the meantime, I wear my two pairs of leather flats: lipstick color and hair color.

Business: I really don’t need business shoes. But I suppose if I did, I would probably wear the vintage ivory patent sandals (they are really more dressy social). I still don’t really need business shoes. But I have the gray ombré patent peep-toes, if I was going to a casual-ish business office.

Social: Here’s where I was really having the problem. Summer social events around here are bridal showers and outdoor parties; the Chacos would be okay but didn’t suit my sensibilities, poky heels stick into the grass, and I don’t wear backless shoes. The solution? My new wedges. They’re even comfortable! I was recently gifted a pair of multi-metallic, low-heeled wedges. Perfect!

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Apr 012014

Or What Anthropologists Wear.

Speaking of values, as I was earlier in the week, brought this link to my inbox Pandora’s box (follow it at your peril: it leads to what in my experience was a couple hours good reading, if you follow any of the links therein): Conference Chic, or, How to Dress Like an Anthropologist.

The Cliff Notes:

black + ethnic jewelry

To really fit in, wear a scarf 😉

This formula can be further reduced to the following universal template:

lifestyle segment basic required clothing
nod to your personal values

For the retiree, jeans and tee-shirt are the basics of the leisure lifestyle segment; white athletic shoes signify mobility, time, and money they can’t be white unless they’re new, right?

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For the elementary school teacher, business casual is the base and the playful element states, “I enjoy children”. Which is as it should be. While this type of dress seems normal in early elementary; at university, it is just confusing.

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Then there are those who use subtractive rather than additive methods to display their personal values: the very fit and the totally indifferent.

Apr 012014

My Facebook friend and one time reader of this blog, Bonnie, was recently looking for input on what to wear to interview for a teaching position. Most said Business Casual. Technically that is correct, but the examples given were mainly along the lines of “skirt or pants and blouse”; that strikes me as kinda boring.

For whatever reason, I mentioned the question to my daughter, who was helping me out by taking this photo; more about that later. She made the brilliant statement:

for early elementary, teachers dress in Business Playful.

In her memory, elementary school teachers typically included an element of fun in their look:

  • brightly-colored necklace,
  • seasonal embellishments,
  • patterned stockings (the ones I am wearing are polka dot).

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Btw, this is another attempt on my part to wear last summer’s MoB dress with sweater and tights, this one more successful. Why? Two reasons:

  1. The fabrics are more harmonious in weight and
  2. The color combination is more harmonious with me.
Mar 312014

Now that the snow is gone and the sun is shining, folks are out and about in my neighborhood. We get herds of joggers, flocks of bicycles, and plenty of strollers; both the wheeled kind and the casual walker. The other day I observed what appeared to be a retired couple. Then I wondered,

What about them made me believe they were retired?

In an instant, I concluded that their white “tennies”, blue jeans, and matching fleeces spoke volumes, not only about their station in life but about their values. And, while I have to confess I am not fond of that look from the standpoint of style, I admire the ideals behind the statement they were making.

They said:

  • I don’t have to work anymore; therefore, my life is devoted to leisure.
  • I am still healthy and what I wear must function for activity.
  • I am able to enjoy this stage of life with my companion.

It then occurred to me that, although the SAHM seems to have a similar lifestyle to the retiree, she has a reason to upgrade her look from leisure to casual that the retired person does not have: respect.

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This is, I think, the beginning of a whole new blogging rabbit-trail. Values are, after all, integral to individuality and, therefore, to style idiom. All industries have inherent values. In this month’s Harper’s BAZAAR, Laura Brown discusses her challenges in balancing fashion authority with a professional look, coming out in favor of the pantsuit.

How do other professions express values in dress code?