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Proportions

It’s very simple to work with a bit of proportion play and see where you’re off.  All you need is a couple of selfies and the most basic of graphics programs.

 

In the first picture, I tried to figure out what was wrong… so I played a bit with the graphics program, lowering my hemline, changing the yoke to a waistband (more defined), and lowering the neckline a couple of inches.  The third picture is the restyled me.*

Have I changed the style of clothing?  No.  Has my figure changed?  No.  Do I look better?  Yes.

This is easy – and you have the tools at your fingertips!  It doesn’t have to be beautifully photoshopped to give you the idea of what you might want to change.

You have the tools to look better – use them.

 

*Seamstress tip:  Do not buy the twee patterned denim for adult clothing.  It screams “Becky Homecky”, in the words of Michael Kors.   Always buy the best fabric you can afford, the drape makes all the difference in the world.

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Happy Things

Things-that-bring-you-joy should play a large part in your wardrobe, but some days you just need the boost of your very happiest-making piece.

This is my energy-booster, it’s a belt/bandolier/necklace that my mom got in Turkey.

DSC04858

Accessories are some of the best ways to wear the things that make a difference in your mood.  The bracelet that increases your sense of security, the earrings that make you smile, the pendant that was given to you by your grandmother… wear ’em!  That’s the point of wardrobe items, that they should help you have a good life.

Today, for me, that was a little joy-bearing mood-booster…

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Personal Brand Extends Past the Physical

One’s personal brand (your image) extends to more than just the physical.  I’ve been watching youtube videos by other image consultants, and enjoying the energy.   But something’s been bugging me… they’re all slanging their language up to no end.  Why it bugs me is that I know that I do it too – I use the slang for emphasis, and to appear less threatening.  (I think all stylists unconsciously mimic Edna Mode just a bit…)

So my next personal project is going to be sitting in front of the video camera, refining how I do public speaking – I don’t have the face or figure to go with slang, and I’m a good decade too old.  It’s not really working for the people younger than I am, it’s going to be absolutely awful if I do it.

Question to ask yourself, dear reader… does your manner of speaking and personal presentation match the person you are inside?

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Multicolored Hair (a short rant)

Here at Hearthrose Image Consulting, I’m all about helping you make exactly the statement you want to make to the world at large.  Nonhuman hair coloring on humans past age 25 is a sign of extreme whimsy, so I probably wouldn’t recommend it to anyone who isn’t working as an artist of some kind.

That said, I don’t understand why most school dress codes don’t allow children to have rainbow colored hair. *  If there was ever a time to experiment with your personal style and indulge yourself deeply in whimsy, it is in your teens and tweenage years.  If someone looks like a My Little Pony doll, I think they should be the right age to *own* a My Little Pony doll.  Age appropriate dressing goes both ways, people!  Let the children dress like children.

Once upon a time (thirty years ago), rainbow hair was a sign of rebellion, it was punk.  Not any more! It’s just kind of cute.  The same thing goes for mohawks and other extreme hairstyles… let the kids be.  They’ll have plenty of time to cut it off and grow it back out before they join the workaday world, and maybe they’ll have gotten the whole thing out of their systems.

I want the kids to learn mature values – honesty, integrity, hard-work, perseverance, etc.  I don’t need them to dress up in grown-up drag.  Life is meant to be lived and enjoyed as a procession of seasons… and our culture seems to want to slap everyone into an eternity of existence between 18 and 28.  Stop already!

Insofar as I’m concerned, one of the first steps to savoring one’s maturity is to recognize it as a change to be embraced.    I want children to dress like children – truly like children, in bright colors and garments that will hold up under some play.  And I want a floor-length velvet dressing gown.  My 12yo daughter wouldn’t want to trip over the hem, I don’t want purple hair.  Seems like a fair division of goodies to me…

So, let the kids dye their hair orange, blue and pink – personally, I think it’s age-appropriate, and adorable.

 

 

 

*Okay, fine.  I do understand the logic of distraction.  I don’t agree with it, but I understand the argument.

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Fall/Winter Style Item: Velvet Blazer

If you, like me, tend towards romantic styles, you might want to put your nose to the ground, because velvet is hot-hot-hot this fall/winter.  Now, velvet is normally a fall/winter textile, but this year specifically velvet suits are in.

How wearable is a velvet pantsuit?  Not very.  I mean, if you’re long, lean, and leggy, and you go to a lot of black-tie events for the artistic clique, or if you’re in a rock band, then you’re in like Flynn.  Otherwise?  No.

However, a velvet blazer is a semi-classic item that bops in and out of fashion fairly regularly.   So, if you’re into the whole velvet suit thing, a blazer is to be preferred.

(Current blazer style notes:  We’re heading back to more classic cuts and lines, so although I love a peplum more than the next girl, don’t invest.  You want a slightly nipped waist if you need the shaping, and a straighter tuxedo cut if you do not).

What would I wear a velvet blazer with?

  • Most of my dresses (fabric weight would rule out matching more than anything)
  • Denim (with bite, nothing too sweet, this should be a boho look)
  • Dress pants (okay, I wouldn’t, but YOU could pair these items beautifully)

A dressy blazer is something that can make-or-break an outfit, especially for those of us in the over-35 set.  It offers structure and interest, and I’m hoping to get something of a collection going…. this is one of those items you throw over “just anything” and walk out fabulous.   Even if velvet isn’t your cup of tea, look into some fierce topper action for your own closet – it will thank you.

Caveat:  Velvet is NOT an all-season fabric, even if you live in Alaska.  Its season stops around Valentine’s day.  So this is a garment you’d have cleaned and put away for your next cold season.  That means it could last for a decade, easily… this is not an item to buy in a trendy cut.  It dresses everything up, and tends to be something of an evening fabric… or at least afternoon.  Buy with your eyes toward fierceness.

So – I’m going to have my eyes open.  What does that mean, exactly?

  1. It’s August.  A velvet blazer won’t be wearable in my area until November, at the earliest.  I can take my time.
  2. I will shop online, and try similar garments and watch for sales and deals.  I can set a budget for what I’m willing to pay.
  3. When I find The One, I can pounce, with no second thoughts.

The more planning and forethought you can put into anything, the more success you’re likely to have.  Shopping for clothing and creating a wardrobe are no exception.

So, what are YOU looking forward to, from this season’s must-have items?

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Adjusting to Expectations

A reader wrote in asking me to explain how to adjust your grooming to the expectations of the culture around you, regardless of if the culture is a nationality or a subculture like goths.

This subject is very complicated and individual.  On one hand, can it be done?  Absolutely.  But it so rarely *is* done.  The longer the culture (or subculture) has been around, the easier this is, because the path has been forged for you.   You’re red-headed and wish to dress in traditional kimono?  Good for you that there have always been a few auburn-haired ladies in Japan.  Check out what they’ve done, and work from there.

Sometimes your subculture develops almost a uniform, where every detail becomes meaningful, and even slight deviation from the norm is seen as leaving the group.  You’re going to want to balance some serious loyalty displays in order to be allowed even a shred of individuality – if you can.  (This would be something I’d happily consult with on a case-by-case basis).

Once again, we return to, “what do you want to say?”  If you’re part of a subculture that interacts with the larger culture on a daily basis, you have a lot more leeway in how you advertise your allegiance.   If, for example, you were Goth and a Spring rather than a Winter, and you didn’t choose to wear white face makeup (which makes one’s colors largely moot), you might want to evoke the moodiness and slightly eerie romantic mood… how would I help you with that?

  • neutral makeup – Springs generally wear a lot of color to bring out their own, quite vivid, coloring, so if you go with a neutral lip, tone down your cheeks, and wear dark eyeshadow, you’re naturally going to look more melancholy than you would in pink.
  • dark-neutral colors, not blue.  Blue is such a main-stream color, I wouldn’t put it on you.  Dark, forest green or charcoal instead.  I’d pair that not with white or even ivory (those will energize), but with one of your light pastel-ish shades in something a tad unexpected.  (Palest peach?  Lightest green?)
  • Romantic lines – make a statement here, lux fabrics, same.
  • Leather or wood or other natural accessories, rather than gold, silver, or anything obvious.  I might use black jewelry, with a light hand.

But I wouldn’t do most of that at work – the makeup, yes, as you can generally wear what makeup you like as long as your hand isn’t too heavy, and yes to the dark-neutral colors (possibly an all-neutral palette) – but you just don’t need to advertise your subculture very loudly when you’re the only member in attendance.  You’ll look plenty somber working just with color.

When you meet with your Goth friends, you bring your accessory game up to 11 and turn the makeup up a notch.  Wear the corset and lace gloves, etc.

Same thing goes for most ancestral cultures – one can give a nod to the cultural style when amongst non-members (at work, store, general events), because that nod is quite sufficient to create interest and advertise allegiance.  (One always wants to create interest… if you didn’t want to do that, you wouldn’t be asking this question at all, you’d buy a pair of jeans and have done).  When with the members of your cultural group, you want to break out the good stuff.

Now, if your group is more insular, dressing in a manner than is outside of the group norm might be read as selling out.  You have to know your own rules here.    Take the FLDS ladies – I’m pretty sure I know where they get their modesty standards, but I’m not too sure why they have poofy hair.  But if one of them wore their hair without the poof, I doubt they’d find acceptance.  Their uniform is a measure of solidarity.    There’s nothing you can do with that, it’s a true uniform, and must be acceded to in order to be accepted as part of the group.

To be determined:  “How much leeway do I have for individuality without losing my group membership?” and “who is my audience/what is my setting?”.  Start there.

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Who is your audience?

A loyal reader writes in, “I know that I get more appreciative glances from most men when I am in a blue or green long bodycon dress and heels. My legs are slimmed, my figure is brought out and the assets are more on show. But [my husband] actually likes me in this blue and brown flower print wrap dress. He can hardly keep his hands off me when I wear it, even though it’s pretty plain, can be quite modest and doesn’t always flatter my legs. Who is my audience: the democracy or the dictator? ”

First principles:

  • Sexuality is power.
  • Bright colors/more saturated colors (like black) are “louder” visually.  This is entirely irrelevant to what colors look best on you, so long as the color in question doesn’t actually look bad.

When you walk into a room in a dress that draws attention to your assets, in a highly saturated color, you are essentially shouting, “Hello, World!”.  You’re using a shotgun.   Everyone sees you, and you gain power over everyone who responds – regardless of how they respond.   But the power is based purely on their response, and is diluted by every other beautiful woman (or highly attractive man) in attendance.   You’ll miss some entirely.

Your husband, however, is looking at your face in addition to your assets.  He’s remembering how easily that wrap dress comes unwrapped in private, and admiring the way it hugs your waist.  The colors and print are softer, which is more vulnerable, which also elicits a response from most men.  Your husband’s not looking at your legs, because he’s not looking at you from across the room.  He’s across the table.  That dress is a sniper rifle – you’re only aiming at one man, but you’re pretty sure to have a powerful effect on him.

Which returns us to the question of “who is my audience?”   Rich men have long used the beauty of their women to display their own wealth – saying, “this highly desirable object is mine” is a declaration of status.   Most of us dress up to meet strangers, or to big parties – quiet statements, like private conversations, aren’t suited to large groups.   There are times for all of us to bring out the shotguns … but they’re rare for most of us, in most social circles.

You’re likely alone with your husband, or with a few, close friends, and at local hangouts… you’re not entering the ballroom.   You don’t need to bring out the shotgun, because you don’t need to make a statement for everyone – one person’s attention is your aim.  And you’re hitting that mark beautifully.

This whole concept is something that I didn’t get as a teenager/young woman, and I think most young women don’t get it.   You’re trying to get That Guy’s eyes, and so you dress up so everyone looks at you, then you freak out when someone else comes up… didn’t they know you were aiming at That Guy?  Well, shotguns aren’t very accurate.  You might not have even winged your target… better to find out what he likes and work with that.   Colors that show off your face, lines that draw you close, scents that can’t be perceived more than a few inches away, texture that begs to be touched… there are a thousand tricks, all of which seem to have been forgotten in lieu of handing out shotguns to everyone.

The point of dressing well is to affect your audience, not random bystanders.  Although you do affect everyone… that brown and blue dress is saying, “I’m a pretty wife” to everyone else, which is certainly what your husband wants to have you say.  Win/win, really.

Hope this was helpful to my reader and to everyone else… if you have topics you’d like me to cover, please drop me a comment and I’ll get to them as soon as I can.

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Boho Errands

DSC04840Who:  Me

What:  Errand Running, Chores, Entertaining

Where:  Grocery Store, Vet, Pet Store, Home   (SoCal)

When:  Mid-August, 2016

Weather:  Mid-70s

I love a good boho outfit.  I don’t have the leggy figure usually associated with the boho style.   However, I can use the lines that look best on my figure (long, A-line skirts, defined waist) and still achieve a boho look with the correct use of fabrics, textures, print and detail.

For errand running, I added small accessories (dangle earrings, stone bracelet).  To tidy up and prepare dinner for my best friend, I removed the accessories and added an apron.  To entertain, I removed the apron and added bold jewelry.

And all day, I was cool and comfortable (lightweight cottons, skirt away from the body), well able to move and do everything that I needed to do, and I looked pulled-together and very much like myself.  And I am conveying what I want to convey – that I am friendly, cheerful, and competent.

 

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When Self Evolves, Style Evolves

If you are in the midst of a personal style makeover, you might find that parts of your overall style that you did not expect to change will start to evolve.

You’re allowing another part of your personality to come to the fore, and you may find that your tastes (and cravings) start to change.  For example, you might find that as you return to the workforce, your previous cravings for very sweet fruity scents change to a desire for more sophisticated, darker, fragrances.  Why is that?  You’re bringing more intensity to the game – and perfume is a very powerful way to define yourself.  When you hang out with your kids all day, you might find that you’re wearing brighter colors than you had before…. your playful side is coming out!

It’s disconcerting, when preferences that you thought were set in stone suddenly start to change.  The vision you give the world of yourself is part of how you tell yourself who you are, it’s not only aimed at the outside.  But this is part of the evolution of self.   Would you want to stay a callow youth forever, never maturing, only aging?   I hope not!

Whether or not you understand how to communicate through style consciously, you understand how to communicate with it subconsciously.  Why?  Because you can read someone else’s style tells like a book!   Pay attention to your style cravings, and indulge in a bit of self-analysis.  What do your desires tell you about what you want to tell the world?

You can use this “I crave this/I am leaving this behind” to push yourself on through the chrysalis of transition of one self to the next.   (If you have recently changed roles, and something feels a bit awkward and out of place, perhaps it’s something as simple as a detail upgrade – time to ask yourself the hard questions about what really pleases you *now*).

Remember that the essence of style is to have a seamless join between your outside and inside… let it happen, let yourself evolve, and embrace the changes that come your way.