For my last blog, I’m excited to do something a little different, something special: a make-over (see photo gallery). I’ve always held to the theory that you can make any one piece of apparel work, no matter how bad you think it might be. Bring in a new pair of slacks, a mod pair of shoes, or a jacket to add dash and splash to your outfit. Previously unloved apparel can be your prized possessions, really!
Anna Wintour has stated, “You either know fashion or you don’t.” I believe that there are women who enjoy fashion and others who don’t. And then there are those who are simply still learning. I get calls from friends and family who ask for fashion advice.
Messages on my voicemail often sound something like this: “This is a fashion emergency. I have a wedding tomorrow and I need your help deciding what to wear! Call me back as soon as possible!” (Like a call that might be received at a Fashion Safety Call Center - if one existed.)
I believe it’s easier and much more fun to dress and navigate your wardrobe when you know how to choose what looks best on you, when you understand certain tenets and know how to apply them (don’t be afraid to call in the troops – ask the sales staff for their honest opinion).
A woman named Trish, from Oak Park, recently approached me with a request: Could I help her choose a few new items for her wardrobe and do so on a shoe-string budget? A make-over, if you will. She mentioned that someone had recently told her she dressed too old for her age, a bit dowdy, and Trish wanted a little fashion guidance. She wanted to look and feel good at work and at play.
The Store: Fashions Anew Consignment Boutique of Oak Park (183 S. Oak Park Avenue)
This shop has an amazing 75% off rack, where a gal can really fill out her closet with some much-needed essentials. The perfect place for a limited budget and beautiful apparel, shoes, and coats. Great, great prices.
The Budget: $100
The Cube: Trish has a beautiful, full figure which she was covering up with boxy, ill-fitting garments. I had to first convince her that she had a lovely form deserving of clothes that complemented her figure, rather than created the illusion of excess weight. Sometimes women will wear clothes that swallow them up and leave a shapeless frame.
Toothache: Trish loves sweet colors. Lots and lots of them. Trish is drawn to pastels in the bright hues of Easter eggs the way children are drawn to candy. Pink, purple, banana yellow, colors that make one’s eyes hurt if you look too long (like those crossing guard jackets). Pastel sweaters with pastel pants, and if she could, she’s quick to tell you she’ll match a pair of pastel shoes to the entire saccharine ensemble.
Pattern-phobic: I get it. I’m on that boat with her. I’ve been sailing that boat for quite some time. But Trish and I are working hard. The first step is always admitting one has a problem. Trish wouldn’t even consider prints, unless they were flowers. We needed a few sophisticated prints. She had to expand her fashion sensibility to designs and patterns we’ve never considered before. This includes stripes and dots. Deep breaths.
So here’s how we did. (I’m rubbing my hands with delight!) Trish was very resistant…at first! I heard the word “no” a lot as well as the phrase, “I don’t wear (fill in the blank).” There’s a lot Trish didn’t wear (notice the past tense).
Balance & Color: We had to step slowly away from the spring and summer colors. Trish admits to liking light colors because she believes they complement her fair skin. The only problem is that they really wash her out. We convinced her to try on some deeper, richer hues, like raspberry (still in the pink family, so we’re not catapulting her out of her comfort zone!), brown, and a great shade of blue to bring out her eyes.
Denim: We did have to pry the faded, loose khakis from her hands, but once she tried on the straight-leg, dark-wash, slim-fitting jeans ($16), well, there was no turning back for Trish.
Layering: We talked a lot about layering. Now IS a great time for fashion. We can make all of our clothes multitask. We can transition so many pieces into the cold-weather seasons by layering. Layer, layer, layer! (And then layer some more.) Add hosiery, wear boots, add a cardi or chunky sweater to that favorite silk blouse or cotton button-down, add a scarf! Ahh, there, now we’re really making progress - and our clothes work for us.
Contrast: We found a graphic print dress in a great jersey fabric that she fell in love with. It was $9! Again, it has some bright yellow tones, but these are balanced out with lots of black. Breaking up color is really important. Trish admits to loving to wear all one color: the same color shirt and pants. It’s really important to add contrast, but I love the rule of keeping outfits to a max of three colors (unless it’s a multihued print of course).
Sassafras: A pop of print, something sassy like zebra printed flats ($40) or a leopard printed belt are perfect pieces to instantly update your outfit and add a little chic.
The Smile: Trish has an amazing smile that transforsm her entire face. I happen to think it's her fashion weapon. Wear it as often as possible, Trish!
A Happy Ending:
Trish came in wearing a pretty blouse with a floral pattern with a rather boxy cut, putty-colored pants that were too big around the waistline and too short at the ankles, and open-toed, golden mules that created a monochromatic look. As a matter of fact, Trish blended right into the entire outfit.
I explained that while the shoes are pretty, they were open toed and bejewled, and not necessarily appropriate for the weather, but more suitable for a wedding or dinner party. They weren’t adding any style value to her ensemble.
Trish believed this shirt wasn’t salvageable, but once we switched out her pants for the dark-washed jeans and replaced her shoes with a pair of modern brown, leather clogs, Trish was feeling better about the blouse (see photo gallery, new clogs not pictured). She also found a great pair of ballerina flats that can work with many, many ensembles (only $15 - bravo, Trish!).
In the end, we found myriad pieces that Trish not only liked, she loved. She has since contacted me to share that she has been receiving one compliment after another and she’s delighted. Beyond this, I ran into Trish and she was wearing an awesome outfit, with a cute belt. (Something she had vehemently opposed when I first suggested the accessory to her: “I don’t look good in belts,” she said. Apparently she looks great in them!
On that fun note, a fond farewell to all the fashion lovers out there. It's been a fun fashion journey! I'll see you around town and in shops. But this time, I'll simply be shopping!
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