I'm coming to the conclusion that I need a change of style. Various things have triggered this: a friend commenting that I dress "conservatively", and another pointing out a really horrendous dress, a shapeless monstrosity covered in busy floral patterns in green, brown and yellow, the sort of thing a 50-year-old who thought she could get away with looking "cute" would wear if stuck in a 70s timewarp, as being similar to my sort of style. I should emphasize that neither of these people was being anything other than friendly, but it made me think.
The truth is that last time I thought seriously about my style of dress was as a young teenager, when I first started choosing my own clothes and wanted to look like a young adult rather than a child. So my basic mode of dress since then has been long, full skirts, usually patterned, and long, loose tops, usually in plain colours. Lots and lots of layers. I've branched out a little bit since then; I own a few smart suits and a few party dresses that I didn't have when I was 14, but basically, I haven't really moved on sartorially.
I don't have to wear the same kind of clothes all the time, obviously. So I think I need to extend my wardrobe in a few directions. Maybe some outfits that are a bit more smart without being completely OTT power-dressed, so that I look like a 28-year-old professional rather than a teenaged hippie. Definitely contemplating things that are a bit more fitted; loose fitting clothes are very much easier to buy, and I think they do suit me, but I don't have to wear them exclusively. Some outfits that are somewhat more intentionally sexy, obviously not trying to look as if I'm hoping to sleep with everything that moves, but just showing off my body a bit instead of trying to hide the inconvenient fact that I don't look like an androgynous child any more. I think at least some nod towards fashion, I certainly don't want to become a sheep and do intend to keep on defining my own style, but there's no good reason to be deliberately untrendy.
I don't know what to do about my hair. I really really really really don't want to cut it, but at the same time, waist-length, completely ungroomed hair can look childish. Maybe some more sophisticated hairstyles than just the single long plait I normally do for convenience would help. But probably, I have to resign myself to getting professional attention somewhat more regularly than once a decade, at the very least keeping it trimmed and neat, and it might make sense to go in for some degree of layering or colouring. Last time I had my hair "done", I was really pleased with the result, it ended up a lovely colour and a very neat shape, and although I missed the length something terrible, halfway down my back isn't short. The thing is that cost £80 and took an entire morning, and no way on this earth am I going to follow the hairdressers' recommendation of doing that kind of major operation 8-10 times a year. I'm also a bit concerned that dyeing it regularly will damage it. I think I could realistically think about going to the hairdresser once or twice a year, though.
I am absolutely not going to wear uncomfortable shoes. Putting a bit more effort into my clothes, even on a daily basis as well as for special occasions, I think is probably worth it, but I am not even slightly willing to souffrir pour être belle
. And of course, my appearance shouldn't matter, people should judge me for my talents and personality, but in practice it doesn't work like that.
I don't want to spend vast amounts of money. For a start I don't have vast amounts of money, and even if I did, there are so many things I would rather have than lots of nice clothes that devoting a serious proportion of my budget to clothes would just make me miserable. It's also pretty important to me to consider the ethics of how my clothes are produced. It's not something I've really thought about before, because I bought so few clothes that I felt it didn't matter. Does anyone have any good resources for finding out the origins and labour conditions of clothing manufacture? I sort of naively hoped that upgrading to slightly more expensive clothes would also entail supporting less exploitative manufacture, but that's just not the case; good quality clothes seem just as likely as cheap ordinary ones to be made in China and other places where manufacture depends on near-slavery. Even buying stuff that I could be sure came from Europe would be a start; are there any brands where that is known to be the case? (I don't particularly want to subsidize hippie-dippy brands that make a marketing ploy of being more ethical than thou, either, but I'll go for that if I have to.)
Maybe one solution is to look for second-hand stuff. Still, I'm not sure that really squares with trying to look smarter and be better dressed generally. I think it's probably doable to dress well from charity and second-hand shops, but it would take a lot more shopping time than just going to the high-street, and I still hate clothes shopping. I suppose it's the usual paradigm of cheap, fast and good not all being possible at once.
Anyway, I made a start on inventing the new Liv today, by going shopping with ploni_bat_ploni
and letting her divert me to racks that I would never normally look at. It's the very tail end of the sales, which meant not a lot of choice, but what is still hanging around is absolutely dirt cheap, (and often mislabelled wrt size). I ended up with a really cool jacket, and I'm already imagining building a whole new style around it. It's black velour, short, very tailored, with two rows of (fake) silver buttons. It's alluding to old-fashioned military dress uniform, but in that decidedly feminine way of "I'm dressing up like a boy because I'm ever so very cute in drag". Reduced to 200 Kr (slightly under £15), woot!
Despite what I said above about hating shopping, it's a lot less hateful with good company. I haven't had a girlie best friend like ploni_bat_ploni
in 1998, and even that doesn't properly count because Pseudomonas is not actually a girl (besides the fact that we ended up dating, which rather spoils it!) It's an expensive hobby, certainly, but I think having a more varied and more stylish wardrobe will pay off in the end (as long as I don't go overboard with it!)
So, any advice or suggestions? Even if you've never met me, general advice is still appreciated.
|Date:||February 6th, 2007 09:17 am (UTC)|
10 hours after journal entry, 09:17 am (ewtikins's time)
Thoughts on clothes
A lot of stuff doesn't fit me. As a child I got around this sometimes by having my mother sew things for me. As a grown-up I am learning to sew.
It may be helpful to take inventory of the clothes you do have - which of them do you absolutely love? Which of them make you feel wonderful? Which of them make you look wonderful? Which of them (if any) make you feel a bit dumpy or dowdy or frumpy? Which of them do you only ever wear when everything else needs to be washed? Are any of them uncomfortable? A good way to do this, if you don't have too much clothing, is to have a close friend around while you try on every single piece of clothing you own.
Plan on getting rid of anything that you only wear when everything else needs washing or that makes you feel less than wonderful, save one practical outfit for really dirty jobs like painting and gardening. Getting rid of it doesn't necessarily mean never wearing it again - it might mean waiting until you've found the right thing to go with it, or it might mean making alterations to something that is too long/too short/too big/and so on. Something where you love the fabric but hate the shape could perhaps be made into a different shape, or cut up to use in a scarf or bag.
When you have a list of all your optimal clothes, have a look at whether they can be re-combined in ways you haven't thought of.
One safer way of experimenting with style is to get several very basic things that suit your shape, and then go mad with accessories. It's worth spending a fair amount for classic, versatile pieces that actually fit properly, because you'll get a lot of mileage out of them. For me, this means making them myself or paying someone else to make them, because the stuff at Long Tall Sally is the only stuff that truly fits me and it isn't really made exceptionally well. You may have more options than this, but don't be afraid to ask around about having things made for you - I know claire_smith
is not taking further sewing commissions at the moment but I'm sure her website will change
when she does have the time.
Re: your hair - I think it's beautiful long, and wouldn't cut it, save for getting split ends taken care of periodically. I'm biased, because I'm trying to grow mine out at the moment. Do experiment with different ways of putting it up. One thing I like to do when my hair is long is to twist it into a bun and then put a couple of chopsticks through it diagonally; looks very chic and sophisticated, stays put all day (especially if I put a hairband around after the chopsticks, though this is difficult sometimes), doesn't really damage my hair. You might also consider a French plait, plaiting a scarf or ribbon into your hair, wrapping your long plait around your head somehow, experimenting with soft curlers, and so on. You might also try braiding or wrapping a very small section of hair for several weeks at a time - adds a bit of interest without really limiting other hairstyle options and unless your hair grows very fast indeed, six weeks won't damage it.
If you must cut your hair you could consider getting a fringe, but I have no idea whether this would suit your face.hairyears
suggests go easy on the black leather and studs. Chains are okay though. He also says don't cut your hair.
I'm with you on the shoes. Uncomfortable shoes are just Not Worth It. I've found Ecco to be expensive but generally comfortable.
You might want to check out the LJ board "Modest Style" (on my Userinfo) because they often discuss fashion with sense and how to avoid the frumpy look without overexposure :-)
Style is like make-up: it is a tool to accentuate what pleases you about yourself and to cover what pleases you less. But it is *not* a tool to completely change who you are or to become something you are not.
You don't need a "new" Livredor. You just need to systematically consider what you like about your current style and what you don't. Make a list if it helps, and select your wardrobe according to these new criteria.
For instance, example from my life:
I did The Hippy Thing too long ever since 1992 and it was time for a change. So I thought, what is it about the hippy look that pleases me? And what is it that I want changed? I realised that I still like flary trousers, bright colours and beady necklaces. So those can stay. I also realised I don't want to wear cheaply-made Indian cotton clothes anymore, or tie-dye or "frumpy" things. So I harmonised the styles into something that I find the best of both words: a "clean", crisp look in bright colours, that is fitted and elegant, but not stiff because I carefully choose cute and youthful assesories. So a decent, plain, woollen skirt can look "hippy-chique" with a nice, crisp, fitten colourful top in a solid, bright colour and a nice string of beads. I haven't forsaken my old style, but have moved up from it.
So, there is a lot worth keeping in your old style. You intuitively realise what is a good look for you. You just have to become more strategic about it.
So, my suggestion would be:
- Keep the skirts-look. It's a good look for you. Just find skirts that are a little more "solid" and "crisp" looking in more "serious" fabric as opposed to loud floral prints. Skirts in A-line look gorgeous on people like us with a larger hips and a small waist.
- The layers gotta go :-) The danger with layers: frumpyness. Two layers of fitted garments can be very cute, but too many layers become confusing and frumpy.
- If you do the skirt thing, which you do well, make sure that you get fitted tops. I cannot be adamant enough about this. You have a beautiful, shapely figure with impressive breasts. Although I am a tzniut-person, there is nothing immodest about bringing to the fore what the good Lord gave you. Show off your slender waist and bust by buying tightfitted tops. Go easy on the patterns. Because you are busty, patterns on tightfitted tops can look pretty awful.
- Colour coordinate and assesorise. A top in a solid material with a nice necklace looks better than a print top, or something like that. Assesories are fun and CHEAP and allow you to match apparently mismatching garments. An orange shirt and a green skirt? I can pull it off by wearing orange-and-green beads.
- Be radical with your wardrobe. Moving out of my house and to Sweden *forced* me to ditch my majority of clothes. I realised how many clothes I didn't really like or wear anymore. Better to have a small wardrobe of handpicked items that you can coordinate with one another, than a whole bunch of clothes you cannot make sense of.
- When you shop: be critical. A bargain is nice, but you got to keep in mind how a particular buy might fit into your wardrobe!
Hope this helps! You can go so many ways with your looks: romantic, hippy-chique, Gothic, classy... so don't despair. It's not about a new you. It's about letting you shine forth :-)
If you want, we can go through your wardrobe tomorrow :-)