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Intentional Image:   Fashion, Attitude, and Confidence.

I’m not a fashion expert by any means.  I know designers (some, not all) and moderately follow the big #FashionWeek shows in Fall and Spring.  I have, however, over the years, been asked fashion advice or have often receive compliments on my outfits when I’m out and about (which actually is a bit humorous because I’m very resourceful when it comes to clothing). I’ve always loved clothes and style as an artistic expression and creative energy outlet. There are without a doubt, more knowledgeable and professional fashionistas than I, but I’m usually confident that when I put a “look” together, I wear it well.

Excellent fashion advice and fashion resources are a everywhere, but in a nutshell, here’s what I think are the top 3 “fashion” tips that anyone can apply when it comes to their wardrobe: Attitude, Fit, & Fabric.

Attitude (There are two sides to this coin)

One side of the coin is that you think of yourself as a blank canvas and the clothes you put on create the portrait. What does that picture look like? What mood, tone, image does it project?  This changes depending on the context. For example, there are great articles on what colors go with your complexion or the psychology of colors applied to clothing — and I do keep this in mind when selecting an outfit on any given day.

Will I be in a situation where I’ll need to feel confident?  Then I’ll pick a red.

Or does the context require self-assured, but not so bold — then I might go with a white or a light khaki linen look with black accents (seasonally appropriate, of course).

The idea is that there’s a deliberateness that should be factored into each dressing decision (think politicians and the red, white & blue dress code of the candidates). Women seem to have a greater innate sense of the need to find the right outfit, but not always quite knowing what it is — hence the occasional pile-up of every possible article of clothing on a bed with the end result of still feeling like there’s nothing to wear. Context matters as you dress the mannequin (you), but so does the role you want to play within a particular scenario.  (I talk about this with embodied cognition as well.) 

That’s the other side of the coin. Conversely, your clothes should “frame” you — as you truly are the masterpiece worthy of display. Your attire should showcase who you are as a person and bring out the best of you. I love that it is a big wide wardrobe world (though there definitely is a need for the fashion police to patrol it). When my daughter visited London a few years ago, she was struck by how fashion-forward it was as everyone expressed their individuality.  Develop your personal style… however, fashion and style are not synonymous. It also doesn’t mean that if you have a personal preference for a look that you never change it up.

Fads come and go (and in the case of jelly shoes, scrunchies and belly-button piercings of the 90s, should not be resurrected).  You can incorporate the latest trends (age appropriately), but growing into your own personal, signature style is really an outward expression of an inward maturing self-confidence of who you are as a person. I’ve told my own kids (not that they listened, haha)– you take who you are with you where ever you go, so you should like who you bring along. Attitude is what you wear whether you’re aware of it or not — when you look good, you feel good & when you feel good, you look good. Confidence is always attractive in either gender.

Fit. 

A fairly fitness minded friend shared this line with me recently and I really like it. “Nothing tastes as good as FIT feels.”  It’s a bit of a touchy statement, an when I’m speaking to an audience, I’m careful in my delivery because I want it to be encouraging not discouraging. (“Know your audience” always good to keep in mind.) 

One of the aspects that attracted me to the luxury menswear company was the custom fit for the man (approximately 10 measurements for a shirt). I haven’t done my research on the availability of similar custom fitting companies for women’s apparel, but the idea of getting the right sizing is a good one.
What woman doesn’t have her closet sectioned off into “skinny” and “fat” (& during baby years–with another whole area allocated to pre & post pregnancy) clothes? Americans tend to think bigger is better, but when living in Europe last year, one of the things my daughter and I definitely took note of was the tailored clothing worn by both men and women, regardless of the size of their frame.

The tendency is that if someone is not supermodel thin, then they wear boxier clothes, but sometimes a fitted look actually compliments a larger person’s frame more. (However, too small or tight can also be an unflattering fashion faux pas.)

Learn what kinds of garment cuts accentuate the positives of your build as well as what “problem” areas you need to work around, then make necessary adjustments. It’s terrible (from a fashion stance) to admit, but I think safety pins are one of the greatest inventions of all time!

Because I’m small through the shoulders, blouses or dresses will often be too baggy and so, in a pinch, I’ve found just pulling the back shoulders together with a safety pin at the center back of the neck makes the fit better (at least until I can get the garment into my seamstress). I’ve also been known to buy something that I like parts of (say the color, cut or fabric), but there’s other parts I’m not crazy about, so I take a scissors to it and change it.

Make the fashion “fit” you, not the other way around. Store bought isn’t always the best fit– for you –and making even a minor adjustment, like where a hemline hits your legs, makes all the difference. Without the alteration, the “mis”-fit may not even be apparent, but after the change, an outfit can go to “wow! that looks great!” We come in all different shapes — so one size definitely does not fit all. (For my additional perspective on the association between making the most of clothes fitting and fitness see my previous post.)

Finally, Fabric.

I’m a very tactile person. One of my aversions to online clothes shopping is that I cannot “feel” the fabric. I also always check the fabric content. I love the draping of silks and — the stretchy-ness of lycra — another one of the greatest inventions for fashion.

One of the best garments ever (at least a personal favorite) is one made of silk with about 5% spandex/lycra! (LYCRA® fiber is a man-made elastane fiber, always blended with other fibers with unique stretch and recovery properties). The point here is: Get to know the different kinds of fabrics and learn to appreciate each one of their unique qualities — cotton, linen, cashmere & wools, velvet (also great blended with lycra), suede/leather, sports/outdoor fabrics like GORE-TEX® and more.

I love the look of linen, especially a white Animas shirt on a man for summer. Thankfully for men and luckily for women with men, fabrics especially transcends the fashion genders and the selection of fabrics for men is nearly as expansive as it is for women (though it takes a brave man to pull off a chiffon).

Fabric in a garment makes a difference in the way it wears as well as in the feel, look, and longevity. The fashion police would probably issue me a ticket because I will machine wash “dry clean only” clothes on the delicate cycle, then line dry them without compromising the garment (too much). I figure what I’ve saved on dry cleaning expenses can go to buying something new to wear. (Washing words to the wise, wools shrink a lot and an acetate lining will shrink at a different percentage than the other fabric it lines.)

Whether you’re fortunate to afford top designers and buy beautiful clothing or if you’re working with a limited clothing budget and have to make the best of what you can– Attitude, Fit, & Fabric factor into every wardrobe. When image plays an increasingly significant role, particularly in the professional environment, it helps knowing how to apply a few fashion guidelines for either gender. As a girl who had it going on with great style, fashion icon Marilyn Monroe ironically said, “I don’t mind living in a man’s world, as long as I can be a woman in it.”

– Marilyn Monroe, Marilyn: Her Life in Her Own Words

2 Responses to “Fashion, Attitude, and Confidence: What You Wear Says a Lot About You”

Fashion Fundamentals: Attitude, Fit, & Fabrics | Tamara Leigh, LLC says:
[…] on the setting. For example, there are great articles on what colors go with your complexion or the psychology of colors applied to clothing — and I do keep this in mind when selecting an outfit on any given […]

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Edie Campbell – Celebrity Fashion says

[…] Or, sometimes, like a witch from Shakespeare’s ‘Macbeth’. She also revealed her changing attitude to her clothing – saying that she doesn’t think so much about looking good now as when she was […