Monday, February 23, 2015

Between Comfortable And Uncomfortable

On the surface, these last few weeks appear to be about "trivial" things like clothing and yet clothing is not trivial; it's our second skin. We are born and immediately wrapped in cloth and remain - for the most part - wrapped in cloth until the day we die.

I have always been interested in how cloth wraps our bodies. I loved dress-up and Barbies not for the playing house aspect but for the clothing, the outfits, the looks I could create and the person I could be inside those clothes. Back then, it was outside in. Put on a princess dress and be a princess. Now, it's inside out. My goal is to put on the clothes that represent me because the cloth that we wrap ourselves in is our inner essence expressed outward. Far more than superficial coverings, our clothing is how we want the world to see and know the real us. It's how we see and know ourselves and when the inside and the outside don't match, there is confusion.

It's a spiral. At least, it is for me. I'm comfortable in my clothes and then I'm not and between comfortable and uncomfortable there is typically a shift in circumstances. A significant one for me was when I went from working outside the home to working from home. I shifted both away from office wear and away from sewing fashions toward work-from-home jeans and sewing quilts. LOL - both at the same time was probably not good timing.





This weekend, I re-read Nothing To Wear? by Jesse Garza and Joe Lupo and Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins. Both contain quizzes to determine your fashion personality. In the first book, I was an Avante Garde and in the second a Dramatic which are basically the same thing, different title.

The description in Nothing To Wear reads: This is an ultramodern style that uses fashion as an extension of the wearer's creativity. It often seeks to make a dramatic statement. Typically, the foundation for this wardrobe is black. 

This book is excellent for determining your fashion personality and then figuring out how to dress in that style to project your most confident, authentic self. A lot of the book focuses on defining your style, editing your wardrobe, filling in the blanks, and nurturing the new you. I laugh every time the author mentions having so many clothes in your closet that you can't see what's in there. Hmm... that's not my problem! Although dramatic and minimalist seem to go together so it's quite possibly not the problem of most dramatics.





The description in Staging Your Comeback is similar however, the book is written for women over forty-five and adds information about aging in our styles. It reads: Aging can be a challenge for the Dramatic, for softening to you means losing a part of yourself. Yet softening the makeup and clothing will ultimately help you in your goal of looking stunning. Again, quality pieces with a "less is more" approach will keep you dramatic and appropriate. It is important as you age to not become a caricature of yourself.

The last time I did the quizzes in these books, the primary results were the same however my fashion personality was more divided with a secondary style. This time, there wasn't much waffling. I remember the last time I read these descriptions and how excited I was about what I had discovered. I remember thinking this was really going to focus my sewing and help me create a wardrobe that was truly me. And then life spiraled as life does - first away from and then back to this information.





I searched for images from the book and came up with these two. Above, Gail was fifty at the time of her make-over and below Nancy was 53 - the age I'll be on my birthday. Changes like these are inspiring. I don't need to fade away into oblivion, nor become a caricature of myself, nor look far older than my age. While my best look now will be less dramatic than it would have been years ago, it can always be an amazing outward expression of the bold, dramatic, inner me. YES YES... and true for all of us.





Normally, when celebrities are mentioned I don't have a clue who they are since I don't watch TV or movies nor pay much attention to Hollywood gossip but in this case, one of the "second act" dramatics is Oprah Winfrey. She has had a significant impact on my life. Watching her show opened my eyes to all sorts of topics and opinions that I would never have otherwise been exposed to and made me think them through from a broader perspective. It taught me to think differently and opened up a whole new way of moving through life that I'm thankful for. She's not a bad role model to have.





I'm currently reading A Whack on the Side of the Head by Roger von Oech about thinking differently. It starts with some simple questions that have more than one right answer. In fact, in one of the assignments all the answers are right. The book is a discussion of the mental locks that prevent us from seeing beyond the obvious which include the right answer, that's not logical, follow the rules, be practical, play is frivolous, that's not my area, don't be foolish, avoid ambiguity, to err is wrong, and I'm not creative.I'm forty pages in and already I've learned SO MUCH. Yesterday's reading was about asking questions and how sometimes we get the wrong answer because we not only made assumptions but we asked the wrong question.

Last week, I talked about how I predominately wear simple clothing with low contrast and architectural details in a medium to dark value range along with statement accessories that add power and punch to my outfit and perhaps those are the types of clothes what I should sew while learning how to create statement accessories that would add power and punch to my outfits. It's taken me a while to come to this conclusion. I wonder if I had asked a different question - if instead of asking how can I be my most creative with fabric, I had asked something along the lines of in what way could I be my most creative - if I might have reached this place sooner. But then again, does it matter. I think we get where we're going when we're ready to be there.





Each book provides exercises and methods for defining your style and keeping those elements in mind when choosing clothes (read patterns and fabric) and those - along with a checklist - can make a tremendous difference if we let it. When I chose to make a cardigan using New Look 6273, I knew that all of the elements were there and that the only wild card might be the lapel.





I chose a firm, ribbed knit with excellent drape and tried the cardigan on before sewing the facing to the lapel. I opted to finish it as is because while I think it might be slightly too big, it's not way too big and I'll definitely sew this again and can work the basic design lines into different presentations.





I top stitched the edges of the lapel, around a portion of the hemline, and up the princess seam to hold the facings in place. The pins made me think of adding hand stitching elements on another version. It was difficult to get the facing as smooth as I'd like even though I lay it flat on the surface and pinned directly across. Next time, I may eliminate the facing and bind the edges in some way.





... I really like the way this turned out. It's a me style and matches my personality although - LOL - I don't think I'd wear it with the pointed pants, they were just what I had on in the studio that day. The picture on me is of the unfinished garment while I was testing the fit. I'll get a picture of the finished cardigan with the rest of the outfit at Sew Expo.

Talk soon - Myrna

Grateful - confidence

You - the Dramatic - avoid trends or fads unless they can be adapted to fit your idea of attractive. Stark, clean, bold, and stylized appeals to you. You express joy in having a signature look or accessory. Simple lines with a dramatic accessory are your standby. You tend to collect interesting accessories. You like a hairstyle that makes a statement. You have a knack for being distinctive and striking. 
- from Staging Your Comeback by Christopher Hopkins

17 comments:

  1. wow! I really like the look of the multi-colored pin heads lined up on the jacket edges! What a nice way to add some color to "yet another" black garment! I've been waffling about making more black things and trying to get color into the mix that is my wardrobe... but keep coming back to the black. Some stitching such as the pins suggest will be perfect... now to find some variegated floss or perle cotton to use! Thanks again, Myrna!

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    1. LOL - yet another black garment made me smile. I can relate and yet I really like wearing black as a base. I'm with you for adding color though. Working on that.

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  2. Love it! It will be interesting to see how our Myrna-ize it!

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  3. A caricature of self is how I think of many of the women photographed in Advanced Style. The women with simpler style and makeup appeal to me a whole lot more than the women who honestly, sometimes look like clowns in the guise of self expression. They'd benefit from some 'toning down'. Aging does not have to be boring and we can be noticed without having to wear crazy things!

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    1. Some of those women have way more playfulness than I'm ever going to have. I definitely couldn't carry off those looks with confidence. The simpler styles appeal to me too. I'm looking for ways to make simple stunning.

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  4. I'm not usually one for making everything in one pattern together, but the pants on your jacket pattern deserve a second look. Patchwork bias tape could be fun around those jacket edges, or a hand picked stitch with multicolored seed beads, or a decorative machine stitch using variegated thread.

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    1. The top interests me as well. It's reminds me of a woven t-shirt and could be cut on the bias for nice drape.

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  5. I like the look of the pants that go with the jacket pattern as well.

    It's been fun reading your blog the last couple of weeks - reading how everything is coming together for you has put a smile on my face :-)

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    1. LOL - it's been fun making discoveries. Now to have them stick.

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  6. Myrna, are you a petite sizing? Of coarse all models are very tall as a rule but that jacket seems so much longer on you than on the envelope.

    Try shortening it with pins to see what that looks like.

    I love the lines on the jacket although I would not choose it for myself.

    I really like the second makeover. The softer style and longer jacket make her look so much better as well as slimmer. Have you ever tried that silhouette? Slim pants and longer jacket. Those colors would underwhelm on you so it is not the colors I am looking at but the change in silhouette only. Just digesting and thinking. I might look for that second book.

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    1. LOL - I said in the earlier posting that I'd lengthened the pattern so it wouldn't be shorter than my t-shirt. I'll play with the angle of the lapel next time but I do like the length especially at the back. I like my butt covered. With different pants, it will present much better. My upper body is petite sizing though.

      I don't wear longer jackets like the second makeover because I lose all my shape and just look like a triangle from the shoulders. I like to have some shaping through the middle and really like princess seams.

      Staging Your Comeback is a really interesting read. There's a lot of info on proportion both vertical and horizontal and on hair/make-up and other aspects of make-overs besides just the clothes.

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    2. OH... and... that picture was taken before hemming. It's an inch shorter after.

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  7. I may be getting cynical in my old age, but I always suspect that the 'before' photos (especially when the aim is to sell a book or a course) owe much to bad posture and deliberately bad lighting.

    Myrna, I really do not need another book, but I was wondering how much 'over 45' he goes.

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    1. The oldest make-over is 69. The author said he thought Gail was putting it on worse than normal and was shocked to find that wasn't true. She had a whole bag full of dark make-up. He makes that comment a few times and also owns up to when they played it up a bit. The information is applicable to the 45 and up ages because it focuses on what happens to the body in our second act and how to work with that. Maybe you can get it from the library?

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Thanks for commenting. I appreciate the feedback and the creative conversation.