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Shopping vs. Sewing

I have been both a person of the thimble and one of the mall.  There are pluses and minuses to both positions.  Let’s discuss.

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Sewing Pros:

  • If you can dream it, you can do it.   (Assuming you have the skills…)
  • Fabric choice goes up dramatically, as does fabric quality.
  • You get what you REALLY want.
  • The pleasure of craftsmanship.

Sewing Cons:

  • Time, time, time.  Time to develop skills, time to sew the clothing of your dreams.  Time to wait while your fabric arrives.  TIME.
  • You’ve got to know your stuff – and that “stuff” includes your body, your best fit, the sewing nitty gritty, your colors, and the best lines for you.  Why?  Because you aren’t trying on and leaving – if you make it, you’re kinda stuck with it.

 

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Shopping Pros:

  • You have much less chance of being utterly out of touch with what’s in style this … decade.
  • It’s easy and fun, a social outing with the girls.
  • Great way to try things out – take that chance!
  • The thrill of the hunt.

Shopping Cons:

  • Quality.
  • Sourcing that dream item… especially these days when so much of shopping has gone online.

 

So what do you do?   Well, I do both.   Sewing clothing is, while not an instant skill to have, a very handy one.   You can access amazing pieces of fabric online and get truly beautiful, one of a kind items from a pleasant occupation.  But it’s slow.   If you want – or need! – something right now, shopping is usually handier.  Well, usually – if what you want is for sale at this moment in time.  -sigh-

However, as you develop and curate your dream wardrobe, you can choose to make couture level garments – garments that are well outside most of our ability to purchase on their own.

Don’t throw baby out with the bathwater – both methods of getting clothing are valid – and fun!

 

 

** Pictures rated as free to re-use, neither of them are mine.

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Soft and Hard

The overall effect of structure/soft in your outfit should match the overall effect of structure/soft in your persona.    Your outfit includes your body – those raw materials we love to fret over.   Your persona is not just your personality, it’s also the public affairs office of that personality – what you want others to think of you.

That means that if your body gets softer with age (loosened skin around the neckline, for example), you might find yourself more attracted to a lightly structured jacket, even for evening wear.    That means if you’re an athlete, you’re going to look your best in less structured clothing that moves with your body.  Your muscles already provide visual structure, you don’t need to double down with shoulder pads.

The elements of your persona (fire/air/water/earth) should be taken into account here too.   Water and air are “soft” elements with lots of movement to them.  Fire and earth are “hard” elements, that rely upon more structure.  If you take a brown tweed jacket and structure it with shoulder pads, it’s going to look quite masculine on an athletic figure – the epitome of “earth”.  Strength, reliability, solidity.   You must stay in balance for best effect.  (There are always exceptions – remember:  if you’re going to break the rules, break them in full knowledge of what you’re breaking, then do it thoroughly).

Your subconscious – the desires of your heart – will speak out through your actions (including the action of selecting clothing and accessories) unless you consciously make other statements.   This can be good, it can be bad – really depends on where you are and what you’re trying to accomplish.   It *should* be taken into account when you dress, because revealing one facet of your true self is one thing, and misrepresenting the truth is quite another.

What do you want to say about yourself to the world?

When you sort that out, don’t forget to add in the balance of soft and hard.  And if you are changing from one side of that equation to the other – what you wear must change too.

 

 

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Respecting Your Stages

My book, Wardrobe Communication, explains the ways in which you can choose to deliberately communicate with your clothing.   But you’re always communicating with your clothing – regardless of your conscious decision to do so or not…  and this can be a real drag when you’re trying to change your public statement about yourself.  Sometimes you find yourself “saying” things you don’t want to say.

But what if those things you’re saying are true?   Or were true?

My life has changed a great deal in the last two years, and I intend that it continue to do so.   I’m in an intensive online style community to push me to be accountable to others – to do for myself what I have done so often for so many, to display facets of myself that I want to encourage.

And I look in the mirror and say, “who is this?  She still looks like This Person or That Person – and I’m ready to be ThisOther Person!  How dare she!!!”  And I get mad.

I’m not respecting the stages that I’ve left behind, I’m not respecting those facets of myself.    Am I mad at the Capable Homemaker?   No.   She’s pretty awesome.   So why am I mad at her style?   Am I mad at the Efficient Assistant?  No.   She’s done me any number of favors this past year.

It’s that I’m *ready* to be the Life-Changing Creative Force – someone I’ve had inside of me all of my life, someone who comes out in consultations and five-hour phone conversations and closet cleanouts… but who I’ve hidden.   And now, now I’m ready to let her loose – but I’m grumpy because I go to my closet and find out that the bits and bobs that were in there for her have been worn out or shrunk out of – she hardly has a thing to wear!

Well.   Angels may be in the marble – but someone has to get out the chisel and get to work.   I’ve chiseled off 30 of the 45lb that I needed to free myself of.    I need to get into stores and chisel off the “safe clothes” and find the “pow”.   A lot less Earth and a lot more Fire.

And it’s time to stop being mad at what’s in my closet.   Just as any jewel has a multitude of facets, so does my personality.   I am still capable at homemaking tasks – though I don’t spend all day at them.  I am still an amazing assistant.   I am still a loving mother.   Those facets aren’t going away – they’re just not facing forward in this season of my life.    I need to tell the world something else about me – something that is true, something that the world needs, something that I need to communicate.

So – the gem will shift, the facets spin, and you see another self.  The others are there, and I’m done being mad at them.

Do you have a self that you’re proud of, but isn’t the self that you need to have facing forward in this season of your life?    Drop me a line at amyrosehearth@gmail.com and we’ll talk about where you are and where you want to go.

Everyone else, catch you in the next blog…………….

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Seasonal Color Analysis (CMB)

I learned about seasonal color theory when I was a girl, and I think it’s a great place to start working out your best (and worst) colors.   The original Color Me Beautiful, although it had its faults (aka all women-of-color are Winters – NOT) had a good solid basic platform to build on.

Start there.

And then you pick up Zyla and narrow your colors down using your own eyes/hair/skin.   Yes – you want to narrow down your best colors.  Every color in your seasonal palette is not going to give you maximum flattery.

The problem with the sequels (not by the same author) of the original CMB is that they tried to narrow down the seasons into certain breakouts, but those were still much too one-size-fits-all.

Here’s how you do this.   This is what I do with my clients:

  1. Get in good lighting with some color swatches.  “Good light” means natural daylight, preferably indirect.   [Bad lighting = bad analysis]
  2. Hold up said swatches in families and pick out the ones that really work and the ones that really don’t.   (I purposely pick colors that look awful on anyone who *isn’t* part of that season).
  3. Keep narrowing down until you figure out whether say, magenta or coral, pumpkin or dusty rose is the color of pink that makes you look best.
  4. “Best” does NOT mean the color you happen to like best, it means the color that makes your skin look brightest/smoothest, your eyes sparkle, your entire self come together as one.   If you are seeing mostly the color and not you, that color is not YOUR best color.

Okay, now look those colors up.   At least five of them.   You’ll find them in one or two seasons.   When you get stuck between two seasons, find the most different colors in that season (NOT the most similar) and try them out until you get things sorted.

Et voila.   You have your season.

So, why do you want one of those things?

  1. Knowledge is power.   It gives you a starting point.
  2. All the colors in the seasons go together – so if you put together a wardrobe from one season of colors, the items in your closet will work together.  No more “ugh – this purple is jarring with that grey, and I don’t know why”.

But – I look good in colors from more than one season!

Yes, most of us do.  I wear a few greens and blues from Summer, and when I’m tan, I can reach a tiny way into Autumn for the odd bit of purple.   That’s fine.  I know I’m borrowing – and I’m still a Spring.

But I don’t look good in all the colors in my season!

Nope.   Me either.   Some of the colors are too bright or too pale for me.   If I adjust their intensity or level of pigment, I can wear them – but as is?  No.   Again, this is totally normal, and that’s why the season is a starting place, not the finish line.  *But you have to have a starting place*.

Next you’re going to start rummaging through your Zyla.   This is *very strongly* meant to be taken with an artist’s eye – the suggestion of crimson in a brown eye, for instance.   This is where you can narrow down your good colors into your amazing colors.

Example:  My “white” is ivory.   That’s a great place for me to start.   My *amazingperfectswooning* “white” is a pink-ivory the color of pearls.   A great yellow for me is buttercream – which is three sneezes away from ivory, and not at all what you’d think of as “yellow”.  Where did I get those colors?   A very careful analysis of my eyes and skin.   Ivory is great, and I can usually find ivory.  It’s a basic.   I seldom see the other colors – but I know them, I have them in my mental file, and when I see them, I take the opportunity to add them to my closet.   I know they’re not as common as regular ivory.

After that, you need to look at the intensity of the contrast in your current (and natural, if different) skin/hair eyes, and in the intensity of your personality and persona.   If you’re selling things, you need to have a higher color value to your wardrobe than if your twin sister was a counselor.

And then… you’ve got a short list of GREAT colors, a longer list of good colors, a few “it works” colors, and a whole bunch of colors to avoid.  That makes shopping and wardrobe planning easier – if mustard is in, and you’re not an Autumn, you can teach yourself to not-see it.  Target acquisition – no distractions.

I hope this explanation helped you out.   I’m always glad to do the analysis for you if you want an expert – color is one of my great passions.   Drop me a line if you’re interested.

Examples here:

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[By the way, resistors-of-color theory, you know who believes in this stuff?   Costume designers for TV and movies.   They use it skillfully to beautify or dull-down their characters, as well as to evoke emotional response.     Start looking for it and you’ll see it all over the place.  It’s a fun thing to do if you’re caught watching a movie you find boring. ]

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Zyla’s System of Color

I like David Zyla’s system of color well enough to recommend his book to my readers, and use the reference of the hands and fingertips on my clients.   In short, it tells you that the colors found in your own skin, hair, and eyes are your personal best colors, and it takes the four-season system of color a step further.  This is good stuff.

There are, however, limitations.   And the biggest one is that you have to use a little creative license with those colors!  It helps a very great deal if you’re someone who can really see color, and extrapolate corresponding “right” colors from what’s on the paper.

Here’s a picture of my eye:

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According to Zyla, the ring around my iris is my “first base” – the color I should wear when I want to be most forceful, taken most seriously.  My version of black.

This is a lovely color.   Very soothing.   I wear this color… but it’s not “my black”.   That’s bright navy.

Why would I choose navy over teal?

  1. Navy has a more powerful connotation for the viewer than does teal.  It’s not black – but I look terrible in black.  The cultural and emotional connotations of dark blue include reliability and professionalism – the same kind of connotations that black has.  It’s not as expected as black (which I view as a plus) but it is “understood” as a serious color, worn on serious occasions.
  2. My eyes, seen from a distance, look like they have more of a dark blue ring – especially if I wear blue, which I do often.
  3. Although Zyla thinks that the teal should make me feel most clarified, it just doesn’t.  That’s a great color for me to feel relaxed, like myself, and chill.

Another theory of Zyla’s is that you can find your best basic light color (aka white) from your skin.    Here’s my hand:

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The color that blends everything together would be a soft golden peach.   And that’s a fine color on me – in lingerie.   In *anything* else, it looks incredibly blah.  It blends so well with my skin tone that I might as well be wearing a paper bag.  Yawn-city.    My “white” is actually ivory, preferably an ivory with a very golden or pink cast.

What’s going on here?

I think it’s that David Zyla, as a creative with an incredible eye for color, assumes that his audience has that same eye.   But in my experience, many folks just don’t.   The ability of humans to see fine variations in color varies.  (There are online color sight tests if you’re interested in this).

I learned a great deal from his book, I narrowed down my Spring color scheme and nailed a few bits of color psychology to the ground that have been extremely helpful.  (I use his “relaxing” colors quite often to pick soft greens and muted aquas, for instance).  I think others can, likewise, gain a great deal from his work.

But it’s only a piece of the puzzle.

Read his book, think it over, add it to the pile of information in your head…. what do you know about you?   What do you want to say about you?  It all works together.

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Photography as a Tool

I’ve been instagramming most of my outfits for the last few weeks.   It’s been an interesting experience.

I know how to dress myself.  Obviously.  I’m an image consultant.  It’s my job.   But even so, as my body changes and I work through the changes in my lifestyle, my style is changing.   The mirror is great, but when you look in the mirror, your eyes go where you’re used to having them go.   They focus on your favorites, they focus on your flaws, and they ignore the big picture.  Can’t see the forest for the trees.

When you look at a photograph, you see the whole you.    Just the way OTHER people see you.   It’s a huge correction!

Well, with picture after picture of my outfits, I have some data to work with to adjust my reality.   Here are my two favorite looks for this month:

 

One of my great temptations is always to just play it safe.   But “safe” is NOT my best look.   “Classic” is not a descriptor for my style.    Those outfits are super boring – and not me at all.   I am also frequently tempted by white shirts – this experiment has been most revealing in that regard.  Light colors go on the BOTTOM.  This is not a fashion rule that I get to break.

Body changes are a thing here – as I lose weight, I can rock a pencil skirt – at least if it’s a wrap skirt with a diagonal line.   Bold jewelry > delicate jewelry.  (This is much more apparent in photographs than in the mirror).  And that side braid?   It’s my best hairstyle.  (Again, it’s working to break up the line of my wide, square shoulders).

As I lose weight, however, it becomes progressively more apparent that my shoulders show the hard work I do at the gym.  I have a *lot* of torso, and not only do I look better with my shirts tucked in, but I look better still with a topper over my shirt.   That said, no blocky boxy toppers for me, I need something fitted.  Long toppers are a *win*.

It took quite a bit of data to come up with these conclusions.  And meanwhile, I have the clothes that I have – I’m not weeding right now.   HOWEVER – this is one of the benefits to being in transition.  Intermediate Amy is NOT the final product, and I’m learning lessons that will end up in my closet at the end of the game.

If you’re trying to figure out your style and work through some things, why not do the same thing?  Take pictures of your outfits, and then look at them later, in aggregate, and see what stands out as “Nice, but not me”, “why did I do that?”, and “Yes Please”.  Pictures don’t lie.

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Using Clothes to Reinforce Change

We all go through changes in our lives, some voluntary and some not.   If you’re walking through a change and want to help yourself adjust to that change or make peace with it, changing your adornment can help you along.

Why?  How?

Every day you through the process of getting dressed.  You select the clothes and jewelry that seem the most “you” – from your mood (subconscious) to your mission (conscious), you’re reflecting who you are and what you’re up to today.  So the first way in which you are making clothing work for you is that you use them to reframe your choices every morning.

The second way you support yourself is in your reflection and the small bits of yourself that you can see of yourself all the time.  Even now as I type this, my peripheral vision allows me to see bits of me.  Every time I get up and pass a reflective surface, I see the rest.   Have I cared for myself today?  What have I chosen to reflect to the world?  That all comes back to me, and it reinforces the choices I’ve already made.  It tells me who I am.

Every day, you tell a story about yourself, and every day you are your most attentive listener.

Please make your choices wisely.   If you’d like to learn more about how you’re making those choices and what the language of clothes has to say about you to you, pick up my book, Wardrobe Communication.

DSC06868Right now, I’m in a transitional stage.   I’ve been working hard at the gym, harder at the plate, and I’ve lost 15lb.  My next book is well on its way to completion.   I’ve been spending less time at home, more time at my office job.   I’m not where I am going – yet – but I’m not where I was.

I had to go shopping.   Half my wardrobe was hanging from me like a potato sack.   As I shopped, I decided this next self would have a name – I’m calling her Intermediate Amy.

Intermediate Amy has the skills that Old Amy did not have – she’s willing to do marketing that Old Amy avoided.   She’s stronger.   She’s looking for opportunities to exercise the gifts that God has given her in new ways.   She’s more confident.

She’s not yet New Amy, on a book tour or doing speaking engagements.   But that’s what she’s looking towards, and working towards.   She’s leaving behind what was before, and giving up the fear that it might sneak up and snatch her back to the beginning.   Intermediate Amy is the Amy who is in the process of changing her life.

It’s probably just as well that she has new clothes to remind her of that, all potato sack situations aside.

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If you’d like to make a new self and need some shopping help?  You might note that Intermediate Amy got her wardrobe redone in two shopping trips, back to back.   1 nightgown, 2 yoga pants, 6 camisoles, four sweaters, five skirts, three blouses and a t-shirt, all of which go with the items that didn’t need to be purged, because she knows her colors… and since she is me, I’d love to give you the benefit of my expertise and save you time on your next shopping trip too!   Need to reveal the self hidden inside?   Need some help getting her the clothes she needs?   Drop me a line and we’ll get to work.

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We are all ambassadors

We are all ambassadors.

For whatever group we belong to, be that family or work, faith or hobby – we are its ambassadors.

That fact makes everyone uncomfortable.  After all, no one wants to be on display all the time, and ambassadors are held to a very high standard.   In the modern world, we tend to want to be “just us” – whatever that means.   If nothing else, one is always an ambassador for oneself!

We’ve been trained by decades of entertainment in flickering blue screens, of seeing our representatives (of faith, city, country, etc) more often on those screens than in person to think of life-as-fishbowl.  We are the observers, not the observed.   We sit outside and watch… but we are not-to-be-seen.   After all, if we’re not on camera, what we say or do is private – right?   This has led us to vastly decreased standards of personal style – and an attitude of “don’t judge me”.

When you go out in public, you *are* seen.   You’re seen by people who you might want to befriend, be employed by, or date.   You’re seen by people who learn to think of your hobby by how you treat others.   You represent your immediate family members – how many times have you heard the trope of being embarrassed by one’s mother?

And perhaps most of all, you are a representative of your faith.   Faith is contentious in these times, and stereotypes abound.    I’m a conservative Christian – what do you think of, when you hear those words?   Do you think of someone who loves clothing, who loves beauty, who loves art?   Probably not.   But I am all of those things.   And I know that I am an ambassador, whether or not I am adequate in the position, I have to walk it.

If thinking of yourself in these ways makes you uncomfortable – you’re human.  If you’d like to get better at representing and you need “how-to”, please see my book, Wardrobe Communication.   If you need a bit more “why” to get you off the couch and into your closet, my second book, Beauty Destroys the Beast will be out soon.

And as always, if you’d like a consultation, drop me a line – I’d love to work with you.