POSTED ON APRIL 25, 2007:
Finding yourself hung on a hanger? Take flight!
Look good on a budget with a striped dress by Charlotte Russe for $15 and $40 boots by Steve Madden.
Mistakenly, I once overheard an office conversation (not pertaining to work of course) between a few very social-elite, name brand-conscience, trend-indulging 40-somethings. Be aware that these were not your average soccer moms, churchgoers or artistic environmentalists. These women shopped, spent, and upgraded at any cost.
Normally with the first thought process of where this conversation was going, I routinely fixed my eyes on my computer screen, got lost in the digital world, and cranked up my rock music till it drowned out my drab, insane asylum gray cubical. But not this time! Surprisingly, the loudest, attention-seeking brunette used an expression that put a slight delay in the path between finger and volume.
Casually, she referred to her latest D&G purchase as "an investment in a prime piece of real-estate." My confusion may not have come so much from the odd phrase in itself, but the simple observation that Dolce and Gabbana may have very well torched their entire line if they spotted one of their pieces worn in such a misguided fashion.
This slightly pretentious situation got me thinking. Even though fashion shined brilliantly, self-explained from every oversized city billboard, magazine page, television show, bus wraps, and cab tops, some were just not seeing the light.
Fashion by definition is the prevailing style or custom, as in dress or behavior -- something, such as a garment, that is in the current mode, or the style characteristic of the social elite. To some, fashion is embraced as an art form, to others it is a divine religion, but for most it is a technique of utilizing clothing to enhance, demonstrate, or hide something about oneself. Fashion can be used as a vehicle of self expression, a reflection of one's personality, or a means to disguise the true self.
The core essence of fashion comes down to one simple word, with not such a simple distinguishing representation -- style.
The literal meaning of "style" can be amended to many different explanations, based on the context of situations, perceptions, even experiences.
Style branches out in even further detail, categorizing demographics such as status, characteristics, social class, and personality. Every individual has his or her own reasoning behind personal selection of overall appearance, with options stretching from undeniable labels such as Goth, skater, punk, hippie, business, casual, sporty, preppy, retro, grunge, erotic, and many more.
Style takes on a form of its own, beginning with the correlation of fashion trends set in New York, Paris, Milan, London, L.A. and intermixes with an individual paradigm. So how do you decide? How do you create your image? How do you express how you want others to see you? Do you create mystery? Do you tell a story? Or do you simply just not care?
Whether you want it to or not, appearance and style provoke judgment and indication. Generally, people have this tendency to place labels according to the way others dress, yet they think there should be no rule or regulations in clothing preference. Embracing fashion from an optimistic, less judgmental, more empowering perspective, style can serve as a beneficial tool to promote confidence, independence, and self-satisfaction.
Simply put, what you believe to be true about yourself others will ultimately believe it to be true.
Get Your Style On
Holding on to the idea that (for the most part) society believes that there should be no rules or regulations on the way one dresses; there are guidelines and tactics to help you find your personal style.
First, know yourself. Individually, you are the writer, producer, star, and creator of the reality you manifest in your own life. Determine the kind of people you want to surround and influence you. Establish a general type of occupation, interests, and hobbies you would like to be involved in.
Most importantly, freely step out of the fear of rejection and judgment. After all, your life is about you and how you feel about your life.
Once you have created an image in your mind of the character you would like to play in society, become the costume designer. Pull tips and ideas not only from the experts and designers, but also mold your image from art, shapes, nature, culture, and anything you find to be inspiring.
Transforming these ideas into clothing, accessories, shoes, hairstyles, and makeup is easier than you think. You don't have to have an expendable income to attain the look you desire. Today the most "in" attribute of style is originality. Taking a portion of a designer outfit and piecing it with a more affordable brand, vintage find, second-hand buy or hand-me-down, can create a look that anyone can afford.
Now that you know your character and your image, you have to know your body type. Flattering your shape by focusing on your attributes is essential. As the cliché goes, what looks good on others does not necessarily look good on you! The same goes for determining the right colors that bring out your skin tone and eye color. Choosing these elements is merely trial and error, but once established, knowing becomes routine.
Some great advice to begin to build a look and a wardrobe that will last with every changing season is to purchase items that can be versatile. For example, invest in an assortment of camisoles in different lengths and colors. This particular kind of undershirt can be layered, or paired with an off-the-shoulder shirt. It can be worn under a dress jacket, or pieced with a wide waist cinch belt, and it can also be worn alone with a simple summer skirt. With that one piece, you have five different looks without spending a fortune.
If you want to change up your look while still constructing your closet; purchase a variety of bottoms, such as Capri's, gauchos, long and short skirts, long and short shorts, and of course, jeans.
You can create many different outfits using the same pair of capris by changing your shoe style. A heel or a wedge, compared to a flat, a tennis shoe, or flip flops will give you a completely different look and a complete different outfit.
For example, let's say you're going out for cocktails this evening and you want to dress slightly sexy, yet give off the vibe of an independent, smart woman. Take the long cami and off-the-shoulder shirt in the above scenario and place it with a simple black pair of dressy capris, slap on a pair of heels and you have your classy, sexy, sophisticated look.
If your style is a little funkier, throw on some bold, chunky accessories, dramatic makeup, and a unique hairstyle, and now you're a little more punk rock. If your style is more conservative, wear delicate, simple jewelry, a more sleek traditional hairstyle, and lighter, barely-there makeup.
I always find it easier to create an outfit one piece at a time. So, before getting dressed, pick the type of bottoms you feel like wearing. Then determine the colors to match your mood. Next, establish the kind of vibe you want to give off, by picking a particular type of shirt. Lastly, your shoe choice will complement your look, while accessories will complete it.
The Way She Walks
Shoes and accessories definitely play a major role in completing an outfit. For instance, place a bold red shoe, funky red handbag, and chunky earrings with a simple black cotton dress. This will create eye flow and finesse to an otherwise plain, unfinished outfit.
These are just a few examples of turning simple outfits into an array of different styles. The more comfortable you are with yourself and the less concerned you are about what others think, the better you will be at creating and accomplishing your style.
Once you have put together an outstanding ensemble that reflects the characteristics you would like others to know about you, there is one final step: walk with confidence and purpose. When you love who you are and portray this acclimation through style and poise, things begin to happen. You stand a little more proud, you find yourself smiling more, you're less stressed, and more importantly you start positively affecting those around you.
Whoever would have thought fashion could create contagious smiles? So know that you have become your own personal costume designer, I say set your stage of imagination, pick your theme music, adjust the lights, and play the staring role in the story of your life!
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