What’s in style for you, if magazine suggestions aren’t ?
What to do if top fashion magazine editors don’t narrow down the season’s styles to clothes you want to wear. And they don’t agree on the trends for winter 2010. From looking at designer shows, it’s obvious there’s a huge variety of styles. So how do we find the best choices for ourselves ?
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Know your own style. If you google ‘personal style’, you get nearly 3 million links. The US Elle style quiz is fun. 8 styles, though to my eye they’re all for slim city whizzes. No soft classics. casual classics, gamine, vintage, Western, Lolita, hip-hop, grunge, ethnic, creative ‘boutique’ styles. . .
It’s definitely worth knowing the clothes you feel happiest and most comfortable in. What makes you feel you’re living your clothes life to the full. And what is best for your own lifestyle. These are not always quick and easy discoveries. I find it an ongoing process. I learned a lot from the wardrobe planning thread at Stitchers Guild. Many of my posts are about this, see personal style.
And it is worth trying on some styles which you don’t think are ‘you’. There may be some surprises.
Or at least know what isn’t your style.
I realised knowing my style can be dramatically helpful when I first learned my colours. I now often walk in the door of a shop, glance along the racks at the colours, and walk straight out again. Saves a huge amount of time.
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And why are clothes important to you ? (see Clothing Values post).
Why do you want to be fashionable ? (if you’re not a high fashion sort of person) To avoid being sneered at by the rich or their shop assistants ? – happily I haven’t got that lifestyle. To look current – yes – but there are easier ways of doing that than following the dictates of Vogue. Actually I think someone dressed like a Vogue editorial would look more out of place round here than someone in derelict jeans and sweats. I’m looking forward to seeing what the more stylish locals do choose to wear in the coming winter.
I did a quick calculation from the ‘In Style’ circulation figures, and realised I might be the only person in about 3 streets who looks at it. That means there are not many people I meet who despise me because I’m not wearing a camelhair cape :D
Sadly disapproval, ridicule, rejection are powerful social forces. Big survival value for keeping a cohesive social group for mutual support. But also very painful. I’m very sensitive to it all.
Everyone from religious fundamentalists through rich kids to Goth and hip-hop may think you have the wrong morals or the wrong personality if you wear the wrong clothes. Clothes can be a great source of pleasures. But fashion can bring out the worst in people. It helps to find people who like the same clothes as you do, or tolerate your choices.
Wearing what you love is surprisingly good armour against being disapproved of or ignored. It’s like most areas of life. If you can laugh kindly about your weaknesses, then criticism doesn’t have so much power.
Knowing your own style also gives you security when fashion experts give conflicting advice. This season one fashion writer says you must wear prints, as white shirts are dated. Oh dear, my closet is full of white shirts. . . Ah well, not to worry, nearly every outfit in the Céline show includes one.
Both shows start with high-necked black, but they’re very different.
If you’re tempted to take fashion too seriously, watch the film about Vogue magazine, ‘The September Issue’. Do you want to be told what to wear by these people ? Look at what the assistants are wearing and their body language. In films about designers Lagerfeld and Mizrahi, the assistants may be equally drably dressed but they are devoted. Or read ‘Fashion Babylon’ by Imogen Edwards-Jones or ‘Bringing home the Birkin : my life in hot pursuit of the world’s most coveted handbag’ by Michael Tonello.
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Then what are the easiest ways you can cut down on all the current alternatives, so you only look at possibilities which are good for your style ?
Try different magazines – find which ones you feel most comfortable with.
Pick a designer with the same style as you. Copy these outfits without worrying about anything else.
And there’s no need to be concerned if the big name designers are too extreme for you. There’s a great deal going on in fashion which doesn’t appear in a RTW show. Most people round here wear knit tops, but there are few of them in the famous RTW collections. Find a store, local or online, which you like. In my town there’s only one big department store. Happily, there’s a store-in-store by a designer I like. The clothes wouldn’t fit and aren’t in the right colours, but they’re a good source of ideas and inspiration. That designer doesn’t have a RTW show. Nor do many popular and stylish high street chains.
Which mail-order catalogues make you shudder, and which make you want to spend millions ?
Find a style blog that you like. Lots of places to try with links to other blogs. For blogs focussed on style, start from somewhere such as YouLookFab’s suggestions. If you prefer a sewing starting point, try Debbie Cook’s list. Once you start explorng you’ll find some you enjoy and feel at home with and remember to go back to.
Which styles make you instantly relax and feel at home ?
Every time you find something you dislike, think of what you would prefer.
The only problem with all this is you have to do the trudging around (real or virtual) for yourself, to find current styles which are right for you. It helps to be secure about what you like, so you’re not distracted by all the possibilities that aren’t. So the initial stages of this process can take time.
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Then the ‘only’ ’small’ problem is finding the patterns which mimic those designs. It’s easiest if you can analyse a style : its overall silhouette, main seam lines, and style elements such as length, collar/ neckline, sleeves. But you haven’t got to do that. Save pictures of clothes that you like from the internet. Print them out and keep them to hand while you’re looking through the pattern collections.
Chromatophore has some posts on patterns for various winter 2010 looks.
Easiest of all if you can, find a pattern designer who has patterns you like. If the big pattern catalogues don’t make you feel at home, try independent pattern designers. I don’t think there’s any complete list of independent pattern companies, but here is a starting point. I’m planning a post with more resources for this.
For the least effort, you only need the look of this decade, not this season. Anything in the recent patterns, Big 4 or Burda, is going to be in current style, even if not high fashion. It’s going to have current proportions and silhouette.
I’ve been enjoying looking at Kate Mathews’ books, which are full of ideas. But their styling is dramatically out of date, all those huge shoulder pads and very loose fit. The current look is usually more fitted. Current shoulders are usually fitted or raglan rather than dropped. Knits are used now for fashion clothes, not just for sports. So there are new styles that rarely appear in pattern making books of the 80s – twist front tops, wrap tops, cascade jackets, leggings. And so on. All this is naturally taken into account without you having to think about or even be aware of it, if you wear recent styles from the pattern books.
Okay, I find many of the recent patterns dull, and some of them too extreme. The pattern companies try to provide for all styles, and many people like the patterns I dislike. My dislikes are clues to my own style. But I don’t think you’ll find any recent pattern with the huge american-football-player shoulders that were fashionable in the 80s :D
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There’s a great deal more in the designer collections and the stylish stores than the 6 In Style suggestions for the coming winter, or the 10 Vogue items for next summer. So if we don’t like those ideas, that doesn’t mean we have to muddle along with no hope of being current or stylish. But we do have to do our own legwork.
If this lack of fashion clarity makes you uncomfortable, here’s a discussion started by Male Pattern Boldness.
I get a great deal of pleasure and fun out of looking at what’s happening in fashion. But magazines are best taken for inspiration and entertainment, not for strict rules dictation !
My next post is my own pick of the new season’s patterns – very different from what the In Style list says I should be wearing. Nothing like the photos from the collections in my Trends post either :D
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Links available August 2010
Photos from Style.com