Archive for Basic Concepts

Reflections on style and some shopping results!

246932_10100498100389721_3514712_nSimon’s Surgeries: Update

Simon had his 2nd surgery, so outfit pics have been overshadowed by helping him get around.  He’s healing nicely.

Thoughts on Style

In the meantime, I got into a discussion with a friend that I wanted to share.  We were talking about personal style.  She informed me that mine was somewhat boring because I tend to prefer cardigans to jackets and tend to prefer fit-and-flare dresses or fuller skirts to sheath or body-con dresses and pencil skirts.  Her argument was that the latter were in style and were very flattering on “everyone”, so I should try them.

Here’s the thing.  I have tried them.  Gwynnie Bee has allowed me to try all sorts of things with no real risk.  Most recently (literally yesterday) I received and tried on a shift dress.  Then I put it in the bag and sent it back.  Even with shapewear, the dress made me look like I was all hips and nothing else.

But more importantly, I WASN’T COMFORTABLE IN IT.  I felt self-conscious.  I have the same issue with pencil skirts, and in addition I don’t feel as though I can move comfortably.

I don’t care HOW in style something is or how chic everyone says a look is.  If you don’t feel comfortable in it, you aren’t going to LOOK comfortable in it.  And if you aren’t comfortable, you sure as heck aren’t going to feel sexy, attractive, powerful or smart.

For me, that means an A-line or wider skirt.  Others may find they feel more pulled together in a pencil skirt, and that is their right.  (Chastity over at Garner Style TOTALLY rocks those, and she’s curvier than I am!) I’ll keep rocking my fit-and-flares.

On to something more fun: SHOPPING!

_9066308Remember this cardigan/jacket that was $368?  *happy dance* It went on sale for 40% off ($220.80), which is STILL expensive but a lot better.  At that point I showed it to my husband who agreed that it was an AMAZING, wardrobe-making piece.  After some negotiating about my spending money, I bought it and am spreading the cost out over a month to pay back our credit card.  I CAN’T WAIT!  This will be my perfect Arizona winter coat!

jumpers-and-knit-zhenzi-knit-cardigan-berry-purple-black_A22058_F5224Another thing I’ve been focusing on this fall is particular colors.  Specifically deep purples, plums, burgundies, wines, etc.  I’m also making an effort to buy better items, but fewer.  So I was surfing around and found this cardigan.  It arrived today and the colors are every bit as rich and beautiful as I wanted.  Expect to see it very soon now that temps are dropping below 100.  (This has the advantage of being a loose enough knit that I can wear it already…)2014-09-11_13-02-11

I used 2 different store credits I had this week.  First I had a store credit at eshakti – a dress I ordered had proven to be too tight through the hips, and they are absolutely amazing about returns, so back it went.  Instead, I bought this swing/trapeze dress and had them modify it with short sleeves.  It’s an incredibly light weight gauze in a beautiful red.  In general, I’ve been afraid of swing dresses, since many tend to look like a mu-mu on plus women, but this one has fixed pleating at the bust to keep it from belling out too much.  It’s cool, crazy comfortable, and is about to become a hot weather staple. You’ll be seeing it soon!

8f37a6253d56d7f14a08a931ebb9ad46The second store credit was with Modcloth, and this item hasn’t arrived yet.  One of the dresses I ordered had the weirdest shoulders that just sat wrong, so the dress went back and I decided to try to fill in that charcoal to gap I’ve previously mentioned.  I found this one and decided to give it a go.  Fingers crossed that it will look as cute on me as it does in the picture.  Per the comments, I sized up, so we shall see.

That’s all for now.  I hope to get back to outfit pics soon, and I am still on the hunt for the PERFECT burgundy purse (with no luck in my price range).

What have you added to your wardrobe this fall?

Color analysis and closet strategies

Color Analysis

I mentioned in my last post that I had an actual color analysis done this past spring that confirmed what I expected:  I’m a dark/deep winter.  Here’s what that means:

  • Cool tones work better, although my skin is relatively neutral
  • I can wear either silver or gold
  • I can wear many of the dark colors in the dark/deep autumn palette as well as those in the winter palette.
  • High contrast is good; I already have a lot of contrast in my own coloring, so using it in my clothing works well.
  • Darker colors generally look better, although there are light tones that are OK.

33d5e5e327fdcb055e4884f35135d964Things to notice about this fan of colors:

  • No orange, yellow, or khaki
  • Most colors are the darkest versions of themselves – No pastels.
  • This includes both the dark brights (true red, cobalt blue) and the more shaded versions (dark burgundy, navy)

Of course, I have a pinterest board that has dozens of different versions of the colors for Dark/Deep Winter.  They don’t all agree – none include orange or coral (a color I am having a hard time giving up), but beyond that there is some variation.

Closet Strategies

I bring all this up because I spent some quality time in my closet this summer and it is a lot smaller than it used to be.  I was wearing a great many colors that were not optimal, and while I liked a lot of them they weren’t doing me any favors.  (Major offenders were orange, coral, olive green, and tomato red.)

After the color analysis was done, I went through my closet with a fine tooth comb and made a LARGE donation to our local Goodwill of items that were not good colors for me.  However I didn’t really want to try on everything that was left, so I decided to finish the job over the next year.

I turned every single hanger around.  That day, they all started off backwards. When I go to get dressed, if I try something on that is ill-fitting, out of style, uncomfortable, stained/torn/moth-eaten/worn-out or just doesn’t make me feel good, it goes straight in to the donate bin* that we keep in the closet. If it just doesn’t go with the outfit, I put it back in the closet with the hanger still backwards.

After I wear something, it goes into the closet with the hanger the normal way. This tells me what I am and am not wearing.  I can quickly see what I haven’t worn recently, which drives me to try to find an outfit for it.

If, at the end of 6 months or a year (depending mostly on whether it was in season or not) I still haven’t made it work in an outfit, it goes into the donate bin.  I foresee that happening with a number of items that have either small prints or are colors that I just don’t really wear that often.

So what have I learned so far?

  • Many of the items I have a hard time making work are difficult because they are too long.  This is particularly true when they have uneven hemlines.  I find it hard to make these look professional.
  • Certain brands shrink.  A lot.  And something that fit beautifully when it arrived and the first time or two I wore it will suddenly be to short or too tight or both.  I have several pairs of perfectly good work pants from Coldwater Creek (RIP) that shrank up to 5 inches in length. Completely unwearable now.
  • My love of color blocking extends to how I put separates together. Small patterns tend to appeal most to me when they are an accent; i.e. the tank UNDER the cardi, not the other way around.  The only patterns I truly love are geometrics, usually with quite large designs.
  • The things I love get worn well past when the fabrics are dead.  I need to be better about letting those items go.

One thing to understand about color analysis is that it doesn’t mean you can’t wear other colors, just that you will look better in those in your season.  If I really want to wear orange, I can, and if I work carefully with makeup and such, I can make it work.  So there are a couple of less optimal pieces that I haven’t given up yet because I love them too much.  Perhaps with time.

Color Analysis Resources

If you are interested in figuring out you colors, check out these sites:

Each blog talks extensively (although not necessarily exclusively) about color analysis.   Take a look, keep an open mind and see if you can narrow in on your best colors.

*The Donate Bin:  One of the advantages of having the donate bin in the closet is that things go in there immediately – as soon as I realize it’s not working, it goes straight in there and doesn’t waist my time any further.  But there is a second advantage that is equally as important; the second look.

In order to deduct the donation on your taxes, you need to set a value.  There are standards for this, but in general you need to know things like the number of dresses, pants, t-shirts, sweaters, etcetera, that go in to the donation.  So when the time comes to take a load to Goodwill, the bin gets pulled out and each item is reviewed and counted.  In the process I have a second chance to look at an item.

I rarely pull things out, and if I do I try them on and find an outfit right away for them to go with.  But, occasionally, things end up in the bin because I’m having an “I hate everything” day.  This second look catches those items.

Finding MY Style

I mentioned before that I have purchased things that didn’t work.  This blog revision 1 was actually really useful for me in terms of figuring out what some of those things are.

  • Small prints and florals
  • Chunky knits
  • Pale/pastel colors
  • Mustard yellow, no matter HOW cute it looks on others

At the same time, though, just eliminating things doesn’t leave you with a style. I needed a new way of thinking about developing my own style. In the process of looking around for ideas, I came across an interesting series of articles title The Wardrobe Architect.  So far it is really helping me narrow in on some things I hadn’t considered previously. In week 1 it asks you to reflect on how we are different and how that affects our choices.  Several of the questions brought out some interesting thoughts for me.

  1. History:  In reflecting on this, I realized that my parents style of dress (well, really my Dad’s; my Mom wore what my Dad wanted) has had a lingering impact on my tastes.  My father had a VERY conservative style and pushed my mom toward the same; very classically cut Pendleton Wool Suits, meticulously matched purse/shoes/belts, that kind of thing.  I still have to fight the urge to match my purse and shoes when I dress.  I also was used to seeing suits, so I get VERY fussy about matching colors; I steer clear of Navy because it is so hard to match unless you buy all the pieces together and only wear them with their matching pieces.
  2. Community: When I think about it, I have always been heavily influenced by the wardrobe choices of my friends.  When my best friend was leaning toward the hippy/new agey side, so did I.  Even now, my husband explicitly doesn’t like certain things, so I don’t wear them.  Most aren’t a big loss (I agree with him that Capri’s don’t really look good on anyone, although in AZ they would be nice), but I sometimes miss some of the more edgy styles.
  3. Location: Arizona is Hot.  Even when it’s cold for those of us who lives here, it’s still in the 50s.  Because of this my wardrobe has drifted to be made up of lots of tanks/tees and cardigans that I can wear over them when indoors.
  4. Body, Part 1: I’m fat.  I’ve been fat all my life, with a lowest adult size of a US16.  I have no image of myself as thin, but that doesn’t stop me from struggling with what I see in the mirror every time I look. Because of that I tend to wear my clothing looser than a lot of plus sized women.  That impacts the silhouettes that I wear.  Too tight and I feel like all people see is the lumps and bulges.
  5. Body, Part 2:  I’ve read any number of times that more structured clothing is good, but I hate it.  HATE it.  I suppose in some ways that I reflect the lack of structure in my figure into my clothing, but all I know is that I feel uncomfortable and hyper-aware in highly structured clothing – like they are trying to force me to be a shape I’m not.

These questions have helped me to understand a little bit about where some of my own preferences and, frankly, odd choices come from.  With any luck being aware of these things will help me decide whether they serve me well or are things to be fought against.

I’ll take a look at part 2 in my next post (I promise there will be pictures soon), but I’m glad I found this program.  I feel as though I noticed a few things today that were important, first about my history and second about my (still problematic after all these years) body image. Things to mull over …

Is this thing on?

So it’s been about 9 months since I posted.  I have a pile of excuses, not the least of which is that the puppy ate my camera. (No, really.  She chewed it up until it wouldn’t work anymore…) But quite honestly I had reached a point where the process of taking pictures every day was kind of a pain and so I stopped.

Recently, however, I’ve realized that I still have things to say, do and show.  So I’m back.  I will not be pushing to post every day, nor will I be posting every outfit.  It’s July in Arizona – sometimes it’s just too hot.  I also am not going to try to compete with all the bloggers out there with people who will take their pictures for them; my husband has neither the will nor the ability.

However I am back with new outfits, new ideas and a new philosophy about my clothing.  But that’s for another post….

Color Theory: What’s your best palete

I find color theory fascinating.  There are certain colors (and therefore outfits) that look amazing on others but awful on me.  Heck, I even have a Pinterest board titled “Can’t wear but wish I could” full of cute outfits in colors that just don’t work on me.

Back in the 80s I had my seasons done and was told I was a winter.  That didn’t seem quite right; I wear both gold and silver jewelry, have clothing in earthy shades of rust as well as bright red (while looking deathly ill in the lemon yellow that a winter is supposed to be able to wear), and looked considerably more yellow skin-toned than my husband.  Since then, however, there have been a number of refinements made to the seasonal model that make it seem closer to on the mark for me.

Specifically, the idea of adding dimensions of dark/light/true/bright came in, making subtle changes to the base colors.


What is neat about these additions is that they make clear why certain color combinations worked and others didn’t.  In fact I appear to be a dark winter or dark autumn (two palates that share a lot of the same colors).

It turns out that if you look at my “Can’t Wear” board, most of the items are soft colors (taupe, cream, dusty rose, lilac, etc).  Soft Autumn/Soft Summer colors.  Colors that wash me out.  However knowing the colors that work best on me has made shopping a great deal easier.  Even using two palates instead of one, it has made decisions a lot easier.

dark winter

dark autumn













The similarities in the palates are clear, although I believe that my home palate is still dark (sometimes called deep) winter; I have always looked better in a pure white than an off-white (which is one of the big tests of cool vs. warm palate).  It’s hard to miss the cross-over of colors, though, and there is an entire page by one web-based color site talking about how to tell the difference between the two.

The danger, of course, is that “your” colors aren’t always in style.  It’s a struggle to be a dark ANYTHING in the spring, which is why I wear so much black and white or color and white that time of the year.  The contrast works well on me.  Of course, it’s hard for a light spring to shop right now, whereas I am overwhelmed with the choices in my colors.

If you’ve never had your colors done, it may seem a bit overwhelming at first. However, there are some shortcuts and tools to use.

  1. Skin tone:  Use this chart to determine whether you have a cool, warm or neutral skin tone.  If you are clearly cool, that will make you a summer or winter.  If you are clearly warm, that will make you a spring or autumn.  If you are neutral, keep going.
  2. Jewelry:  Look at your jewelry.  Is it almost all silver or gold?  If it’s almost all silver, that suggests cool. If it’s almost all gold, that suggests warm.
  3. Eye and natural hair color:  Take a look at this chart.  It shows not just the skin tones (which can be hard to judge) but also the hair colors and eye colors that naturally appear, matched with their palate. I have dark brown eyes, pale skin, and medium brown hair.  Deep winter and deep autumn are the only palates that match that combination.
  4. The RED Test:  Finally follow these instructions using red clothing you already own to tip the scale between the cooler shades and warmer.  In my case, I don’t look as good in tomato red as I do in a true red or blue-tinted red, leading toward a conclusion of cool.

Once you have your colors, this pinner had a board for each color palate.  Use those colors as a guideline for what to add and what to consider a basic in your wardrobe.  This blog also has a TON of resources.

One last thought:  Just because a color isn’t in your palate doesn’t mean you can NEVER wear it.  It means you need to keep it away from your face.  A mustard sweater isn’t my best choice, but with a bold scarf in my colors it can be lovely.  Start collecting scarves NOW that can tie those other colors in and you will have an infinite number of combinations.