The Art to looking Fabulous when you dress boils down to two main things: to buy and wear the right clothes that highlight your attributes, and to understand what makes well designed clothing special. So, to ensure that we are making good decisions about our fashion purchases, the first thing is to understand our body type and what colors, shapes and cuts work best for what we have. Secondly, we can look at luxury designer fashion pieces to understand the decisions made that elevate well designed clothing so that we can look for those qualities when we choose clothing to make us look stylish and ‘well put together’ .
Let’s start with the first objective: It’s hard to look in a mirror to see ourselves objectively. Many of our own attributes are so familiar to us, we may not even see them anymore. It always help to have an objective set of criteria to check against and some have some perspective. That could come in the form of new tools – new info or instruments (surveys, interviews, photos) against which to compare aspects of ourselves.
Once we can get a realistic handle on what we have to work with, we respond by choosing pieces that have certain shapes, cuts, lengths, colors and fabric types that work to flatter and highlight our best attributes. We will have more on that in an upcoming post: Choose right for your body type.
The ultimate goal here is of course, to look our best and therefore to feel our best and be confident.
The Second part of this dilemma involves understanding what makes a piece of clothing great. Let’s take Designer or Luxury Fashion to illustrate our point. While most luxury clothing is known to be expensive, the expense is often down to certain factors: Firstly, the company employs designers who make informed choices that give the clothing value through its beauty and desirability. People who buy these clothes can see and feel that these pieces are special (like special objects in themselves) and therefore will make their wearer look and feel special. Then, as usually specified by the designer, premium materials and methods of construction will be employed that often take more time and command the efforts of top seamstresses, product sourcers and specifiers with experience and talent.
While both the use of materials and top notch people certainly add to the hefty price tag of designer goods, if we understand some of the design elements in their basic form as specific choices that have been made, we can take these principles into consideration when searching for comparable less expensive clothing.
Some of the most common elements of luxury fashion which distinguish it are:
- ‘Unusual’ or uncommon colors or prints (they set the fabric apart) and also draw attention
- Unique Shapes and Cuts that are uncommon but make sense in the context of what the Fashion Brand is trying to convey in support of their specific ‘Concept’ or Ethos
- Expert design and construction which includes decisions about overall balance and proportion to achieve the desired look and an understanding of materials and their characteristics– choosing the most appropriate material(s) to achieve the look and showcasing them without adding any distracting or superfluous elements (letting each material 'shine').
- Attention to detail – being intentional about smaller elements or techniques: a zipper for example in a metal tone that matches the other metal pieces exactly or that is in a contrasting color, to make a statement; a clasp that lays flat or meets up precisely illustrating that care was taken over every decision of the garment/accessories construction and its quality control; or using specially designed or unique buttons that are slightly uncommon and serve as design elements rather than just being functional. The end of a stitch row can be doubled back to make it locked from unravelling and to highlight it is the end of the stitch as a design feature and to reinforce the stress point where these pieces being stitched together may have stress etc… So many decisions must be made and some companies simply choose to do things 'the standard' way rather than taking each decision as an opportunity to enhance the garment. Some of these things only take a little more time and effort but can make a huge difference.
- Quality materials – for example: Silks (nothing shimmers and slides, takes bright colors dyes well) Cashmere – soft and lends itself well to tight/precise knitting. Both of these are examples of quality materials with a desirable texture and that enhance the shape of the wearer due to how they drape and fall on their wearer.
While things like quality materials and top notch craftsmanship and construction add to an item's price, It is possible to find clothing that is well made and less expensive. An example would be items that are simply constructed, utilizing tried and tested materials and construction techniques, but may have just one unusual characteristic so they stand out such as unusual shape or color.
They may be made from fabrics that are blended with fibers to aid in durability, shape retention, elimination of wrinkles, to give some stretch/better shape, or even to take a dye color. These pieces often include elements that, help the garment to last longer or sit better on your body, without adding to the price.
Clothing elements such as hems, cuffs, linings, seams can be simply constructed in a way that respects the properties of the material or the the garment's intended design. For example, you would expect a knitted dress to have a bottom hem that lays flat (after the first wash). If the dress is made with a yarn that isn’t elastic enough to snap back into place once worn or washed or, if the hem is stitched with thread of a different material so that once heated in the washing machine, however, the thread and the fabric stretch and contract at the different rate – and lead to puckering. If the hem becomes stretched out, the garment looks bad and will never flatter you.
If you see a print, all of the colors should harmonize, and the actual print should be registered correctly (it should look like outlines sit over the correct place of the shapes they surround, for example). Bad construction (or lack of understanding of good construction or technique) is one of the easiest ways to identify a cheap unflattering piece of clothing. Avoiding the bad construction and bad materials that draw attention away from the overall 'look' is a cost effective way to look your best.
As for the hefty price tag of luxury fashion, - wearing lux pieces will set their wearer apart due to their scarcity. It also showcases that the wearer is confident enough to make style choices and decisions about unique clothing and does not rely on trends set by others or a need to look like anyone else. But if your budget doesn’t allow for this price point, you can be creative in how you combine your pieces. Just by combining unique colors or shapes or a bright striking print paired with a solid in the same color family can make an equally alluring and unique statement. Dare to be different but do so with intention and confidence. This is the secret sauce that taking charge of your style choices brings. It starts with being educated on design and developing confidence to choose only that which flatters on brings positive attention to you by reflecting your unique personality and mood.
If you buy a piece in ‘this season’s ‘color’ it may look 'unoriginal'. If you wear it next year, it may look old. If you choose, however, a color that you love and that flatters you (usually one in the same – we tend to gravitate to what makes us look good) you will wear it happily and be confident, that will show and you will get compliments, leading to more confidence, regardless of whether is in this season’s color or not. Have you ever seen someone wear a sweater in a ‘Citrus’ color. I’d describe that as light lemon yellow with a hint of green. It’s fresh, bold, and uncommon but on the right person (who’s own skin color is in harmony),it will glow and will make you say ‘wow’ when you see the piece being worn. The right color(s) on a person with a sympathetic coloration, it will get noticed, for the right reasons.
As far as a piece’s shape or design, Because something unusual is hard to ‘pin’ to a particular ‘Style Season’ you will 1. be able to wear it longer, and 2 can choose something that suits YOU instead of buying something that suits the runway models who make a garment popular that season. 3. If no one has seen the item before, they will usually assume it is ‘designer’ because it seems unique.
Trends come and go but being confident because you are wearing something you love and are looking good NEVER goes out of fashion.
All that is needed is the courage to try something a little different - and you get that by knowing what suits you. That’s where a Boutique comes in - It’s a space where you can try out things you may not usually think to try and where you can get honest/direct feedback if it suits you or not. It’s a testing ground. We can’t do that in a physical space but we can do it virtually. A Boutique offers a personalized relationship to its buyers – to make them feel special, make them feel heard and understood. Push them a little with new ideas they may like to try based on past purchases and new trends.
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