Thursday, October 28, 2010

Why Vintage?

Why I love vintage: the color, the pattern of this fabric, the details of draping and tailoring, fabric quality, the uniqueness, the proportion perfect for a tall frame like mine...the list goes on.
My friends who purchase their clothes from an online retailer, the mall, or even a chic expensive boutique scrunch their noses up at the thought of vintage." Someone else has worn that! Ew!"

Exactly why this is a poisonous thought, I am not sure. If you've ever stayed in a hotel, I guarantee the towels and sheets you are wrapping your naked body in have touched FAR more creepy things than a dress that was tucked away in a chest for decades.

If you can manage to get over the thoughts about someone else wearing a piece of clothing before, you will be opening yourself to a whole new world of wardrobe possibilities--and in my world, far better possibilities.
The word "vintage" is unfortunately overused, abused and misunderstood at this point. I've heard people define vintage as "old, mildewed stuff" to "the highest quality antique garments," and everything in between. For my purposes, "vintage" is something wearable that is at least 20 years old (and that is s-t-r-e-t-c-h-i-n-g it). I marvel at the "vintage 80s" stuff so prevalent in vintage stores these days, but then, owners have to supply for the demand. Vintage used to denote the best of an era, and to some of us, it still does.

So why should you try vintage? Here's my top 7:

1. Nothing is 'greener' than utilizing clothes that might otherwise be thrown away. Same goes for buildings: why be wasteful? Don't knock it down or throw it out and start over? If it's not working for you the way it is, you can alter a couple of things and still use it!

2. Quality of fabric and 3. Quality of construction- bottom line, unless you are spending thousands on couture--and even then I question the quality level if you were to compare side by side--the quality of garments that are at least 50 years old are superior to those of today. There are fabrics that do not seem to be manufactured anymore. Try on a vintage satin nightgown and you will know what I mean! Seeing (and touching) is believing. Also, it has to be couture these days to have all the little details and be constructed by hand. Not so with vintage. Intricate details, like an extra snap at the bustline or waistline (to make sure a garment lays in the most flattering way) are de rigeur in the clothing of yesteryear.

Fully lined, with boning, to ensure the dress lays the way the designer intended.
4. Tailoring- if you are not a tall stick figure weighing less than 100 pounds, the clothes of today are by and large, not desgined for you. Oh sure, they will amp up the size for you to pour yourself into, but the designs rareley pay homage to the myriad body types out there. Yes there are a few brands that cater to the badonk a donk of the non-white-emaciated-supermodel ilk, but that is the exception, not the rule. When you go vintage shopping, you actually have a chance of finding a dress that belonged to a lovely lady shaped just like you...50+years ago. And that prospect excites the hell out of me!

This color is fantastic and check out the neck detail that would be too time consuming for a mass produced piece. You can also see how meticulously this was tailored.
5. Colors- You will find the most vibrant solids and interesting color combinations and fabric designs on vintage racks. You will no longer be tethered to the dictated color palette of this season, or stand out for your allegiance to the previous season's colors, but you can paint with a brush that says "I don't care what color the magazines say are hot this season." If you look great in green, don't wait for the shade you like to come back around in 5 years. Go find it in vintage, because guaranteed: it's out there waiting for you!

6. Details- Oh how I adore the details of vintage clothing. Buttons, extra embroidery, beadwork, blingy (high quality) rhinestones or pearls--anything that would make a similar garment today prohibitively expensive for we average gals can be found on vintage garments. And they make the garment look expensive and unique.

The ruching at the bustline, the piping under the bustline, the design of the fabric and the thin around-the-neck strap are all details rarely found outside of vintage. This is perfect for a girl with great shoulders and back.
7. One-of-a-kind- speaking of this point, virtually all vintage is one-of-a-kind. When it's your obsession, as it is mine, you will eventually find a fabric employed on a garment that you've seen used in a different style garment, but by and large, you may consider any vintage purchase one-of-a-kind. If you don't like to show up wearing the same thing as someone else (think of the magazines of today asking which star 'wore it best'?) then vintage should definitely be in your repertoire!

Monday, October 18, 2010

You really want to dress your best? Invest in a Color Wheel ASAP!

Contemplating today's post, this "Sound of Music" song has been swirling in my head this morning:

"Let's start at the very beginning, a very good place to start. When you read, you begin with A, B, C. When you sing you begin with do-re-mi."

And when you dress you should begin with...a color wheel!

A what? Ask any artist, interior decorator or graphics person and they will tell you that a color wheel is one of the most elementary/basic/ foundational thing you must learn.

I am nothing if not bold, so I'm going to say it like I mean it: this is the first thing you should have in your closet. Or somewhere near your accessories or wherever you get dressed!

Until you are fluent in the language of color, a color wheel will help you keep on track. But here's a the Dressed Your Best quick decoder:

Primary colors: Red, Yellow, Blue
Secondary colors: mix any of the two primaries to get: violet, orange, green
Tertiary colors: mix an adjacent primary and secondary color to yield: red violet, blue violet, blue green, yellow green, yellow orange, or red orange.
Create a shade of any color by adding black
Create a tint of any color by adding white

How will any of this help you in dressing? You and your fabulous wardrobe selection will look best if you employ the laws of complementary colors. Complementary colors are those directly across from each other on the color wheel. Just do some reconnaissance work the next time you're shopping, guaranteed, you will find yellows and violets together, reds paired with greens and blues with oranges.

Get your color wheel and practice on your own, I will return soon with examples of how to use the color wheel in your wardrobe selection process. Armed with this knowledge, you will be leagues ahead of all the other non-artists out there. You can thank me later, peach! ;-)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

IndyStyle Wardrobe selection methods to my madness

If you missed the segment on IndyStyle last week, let me elaborate on the outfits featured. I wore what I call a "Lucy" dress (yes, as in "I Love Lucy") and I chose this to accentuate my curves. With an hourglass shape and height like mine, it is easy to highlight my curves with a full skirt and a great belt to cinch in and further highlight a proportionally smaller waist. A bright color like red works well on someone with fair skin, and I love color, so this dress will be liberally employed in my fall wardrobe repertoire. And p.s. the dress looked way better standing than sitting and I believe looked better than what was captured in the above image.

Tammy--owner of Harloh's: A Page From the Past-- is wearing a Joan Holloway sexy secretary dress--perfect for fall. Though Tammy is shorter and more rubenesque, she also has fabulous curves that look smoking hot in a not-too-loud, uniform pattern. The white collar around the neck brings attention back to her lovely smile and bright blue eyes. The red vintage bag and earrings are a great pop of color that match her lipstick and bring the whole outfit together.

For Tania Swartz, my thoroughly modern (and amazing chef) friend, I didn't want to shock her system by putting her in head-to-toe vintage. She would look stunning in a paper bag, but check her out in this check-textured wool coat with white fur collar. Against her coloring, she looks even more smashing than usual. She surprised me in her admiration of the structured vintage bag and scarf. The white ostrich gloves fit her--lucky duck, since vintage gloves are always harder to find for larger gals--and nicely complement the white fur collar. Underneath theses eye catching accessories, she is wearing her day to day jeans, boots and top, showing that it's very easy to have a dash of vintage wow with anything else you like!

Once again, a big thank you to Laura Piercefield, a.k.a. "The Hair Whisperer," who did my vintage look hairstyle--and can do anything else with hair, no joke! And Morgan Wright of Morgan Wright Studios who did my vintage makeup and is an amazing photographer. Just check this out (again, with hair by the amazing Miss Laura). This is how famous people look amazing--they are no better than any of us, they just have badass makeup, hair and wardrobe people to put it all together. So if you want to look that good, pull together your dream team!

Next post, I will feature a few of the accessories that were on the table that we didn't get to delve into--sharing a few more ideas of how to work vintage into your wardrobe.

Get your Goddess some vintage asap, she'll thank you for it!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Let's Start at the very beginning...Nina Simone/ Feeling Good

To look your absolute best,  choose to wear your best mood.  You need to be feeling good, positive, upbeat, optimistic, happy, content, sensual, invincible--perhaps just one of the aforementioned, perhaps an amalgam of all of the above. Music can definitely make you feel all of the above and then some. Pick a theme song, put a smile on your face and sing it loud and proud, create a dance--whatever positive actions you can take with your body and pair it with your "good-feeling" inducing song. A few times in a row would be optimal and make sure you play the song when you are dressing for a special occasion. Keep creating positive memories and experiences with the song. Here's one of my favorites. See if you don't feel like the sexiest girl in the world listening to Nina croon this tune. Doesn't matter if I'm in a bathrobe and fuzzy slippers, I am a formidable Goddess in the presence of this song. Here's hoping it does the same thing for you, you fabulous woman, you!
And p.s. please let me know how it goes, and feel free to put a plug in for your go-to song...