Clothing as works of art

When I was a teenager, my mother would bring me on an occasional weekend shopping spree to New York City. I loved those trips for so many reasons including getting some mother-daughter bonding time. My mother is a fabulously stylish woman and both of us have always thoroughly enjoyed shopping together. 

 

Two distinct memories of those experiences stand out in my mind. We spent hours digging through selections in vintage shops and finding amazing treasures from eras long gone. I’m sure that it is where I learned to shop skillfully, even in a store that is a disorganized mess.

The other memory etched in my brain is a place that was completely magical in my adolescent mind. A store (now disappeared) in Soho called La Rue des Reves. Inside those mystical walls, there was not only an entire menagerie but a collection of clothing that was aptly described as 'wearable art'. It may have been in that store and indeed on those trips that I began my love of "otherness" in style. The concept of clothing not merely as a necessity but as a form of personal expression, of creativity, of limited edition works of art.

Jumping into the present, I now reside in NYC. The same streets of Soho are lined with fast fashion retailers who have extra-large square footage and an incredible volume in sales each day. I have wandered through them and I'll admit that I have experienced that moment of joy when I found a steal in the discount section. But the older I get, the more I find myself resenting what I feel are edicts coming down to me from the fashion deities upon high; telling me what colours I should be wearing in a given season, how padded my shoulders should be. After completing image consulting training and learning even more about what truly suits me, I realize that my desire to look stylish in no way is related to my non-existent desire to be on-trend or 'fashionable'.

My particular mix of style encompasses vintage looks, even when they are not the current trend. Every few seasons a colour or silhouette is pronounced as "it" that I already love and when that happens, I get to be fashionable. But on the flip side, more seasons than not, the current colours don't work for my skin tone, or the cuts that are being shoved at us just aren't flattering or comfortable for me. Then I have no choice but to ignore what is fashionable, in favor of actually looking good (i.e. stylish) and feeling comfortable in what I am wearing.

Since making that realization in my early 20's, I've began to look at my collection of clothing, shoes, and accessories in a different way. I've learned to see them as a large body of art I have been gathering from all corners of the earth. I am fortunate (or unfortunate, depending on how you see it) to have amassed a rather large collection of wearable art. At this point it is even more important than ever for me to curate that collection carefully, the same way that one would with a visual art collection. A true collector would not buy a piece of art simply because they found it in a basement at a discount sale. It would have to be from an artist they were familiar with, an era they appreciated, and would need to be able to fit seamlessly into their current collection. If it met all of those requirements and was also deeply discounted, then that would be a true bargain. But investing any amount of money on a piece that is damaged, doesn't fit into the available space, or that you knew that you would get tired of looking at in a short period of time is just a waste. So why then do so many of us treat our wardrobes that way? We buy things we don't love, will only wear a few times, and then discard them. Meanwhile both our wallets and the earth are paying the price for our need to constantly change for fashion, instead of embracing our unique personal style. 

I've purged my closet of items bought in haste and I've embraced the slow fashion challenge of making sure that I only add pieces I will be sure to love well into the future and will last the test of time because they are made to last. I take the time to repair and refresh items when they need it. And I have never found it easier to get dressed because everything I have goes together and is something I am always happy to put on. 

 

 

5 ways to wear B&W

1.  50/50 Print

Black and White doesn't need to mean basic. Simple prints work well to add some spice to a wardrobe.

2.  Mostly white

Forget about the LBD, a LWD is equally functional and looks great as the base for a B&W ensemble.

3.  Stripes

Classic and always in style, simple stripes are a staple for adding a little visual interest into a look.

4.  80/20 Print

Instead of all black, a splash of a white infuses a bit of freshness into the look.

5. Mostly black

Pairing a black outfit with white accents makes the accessories pop even more.

5 ways to wear a graphic print

1 - Baby Shower

Monochromatic accessories let the print shine and you focus on the fun.

2 - Work

Tights and boots not only add warmth but make the dress transition to a more office appropriate style so you can get down to the business at hand.

3- Beach Party

Matching a vivid print with a natural straw bag and sandals makes is ready for any outdoor activity at the beach, the park, or a picnic.

4 - Gallery Opening

Metallic accessories add a bit of pizzazz so the art won't be the only thing people appreciate.

5- Brunch

Neutrals make a great accompaniment to a visually interesting print for a fun get-together where style is on the menu.

5 ways to wear stripes

1. Vertical

You don't need us to tell you that vertical stripes are slimming and elongating.

2. Colorful

No reason keep to only a few colors with your stripes. Something bold can make a cheerful statement.

3. Every which way

Using stripes in a variety of directions creates a fantastic silhouette and lots of swing.

4. Bright

Simple stripes are most often seen in black or navy. These bright stripes are anything but basic.

5. Multiple width

Wide bands of color mixed with well spaced stripes make for great style in this dress.

5 ways to wear a bold hat

Shop the looks here

1. Movie Heroine

This look has a vintage feel like something that an old school movie star would wear for a night on the town.

2. Trend Setter

A major sleeve and some simple accessories are the perfect accompaniment for a statement hat.

3. Boho Babe

A pair of wide leg pants in a neutral color are a fantastic compliment to a boldly colored hat.

4. Denim Diva

Since jeans go with everything, they make the perfect compliment for a bold head piece.

5. Office Hottie

Hats might not be appropriate office attire but they can certainly be a great piece to help transition to an after work ensemble with ease.

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5 ways to wear a sweatshirt

Now that sweatshirts are officially allowed out of the house, here are 5 fab ways to wear yours to any event on your calendar.

1. Rock & Roll

A bum-covering sweatshirt is great paired with leggings & some fun boots. Of course you'll need the requisite moto jacket to finish the look.

2. Pop

Confetti pattern pants and a confetti necklace would be the perfect pep to get that sweatshirt concert ready. After all, a statement necklace changes everything!

3. Folk

Layering a sweatshirt over a summer maxi dress will instantly add more seasonal life to the dress. A little sparkle with some comfy shoes makes an appropriate look for any casual occasion.

4. Jazz

Shimmer and a sweatshirt? Why not! In this you'll look swanky enough to get into the club and still comfortable enough to sway to the beat.

5. Country

Laid back, low key, ready for the road, and with a  story to tell. This story is to be narrated by the accessories.

5 ways to wear a maxi skirt

1. Air Goddess - Theia (Greek)

The feathers, leaves, and image of a dream catcher in this look lend to an airy, light feeling. Perfect for a casual day of walking and admiring the wonders of nature.

2. Water Goddess - Sedna (Inuit)

The flow of a cowl neck partnered with the drape of a jersey maxi are reminiscent of soft waves lapping at the shore line. It'll be easy to feel graceful, steady, and clam in this look.

3. Metal Goddess - Arianrhod (Celtic)

Silver and grey are a fantastic compliment in this metallic inflected look. It's ready from everything from drinks to brunch to a springtime stroll.

4. Earth Goddess - Kuan Yin (Buddhist)

With all the colours of spring bursting forth from this ensemble, it'd be easy to embrace the inner goddess in all of us.

5. Fire Goddess - Hestia (Greek)

This fire is white hot! The sparks fly in the accents of silver jewelry and beads down the blouse. Great for a desk to dinner type of day.

5 ways to wear an open cardigan

1. Open Heart

Literally in this case. A plunging neckline just barely visible beneath the open cardigan (along with some bright accessories) will hint at your openness to all the world has to offer.

2. Open Bar

It may be dark but some bright accessories will light your path directly to where you need to be. Perched stylishly at the bar, of course.

3. Open Mind

Perfect for a day of walking around looking at modern art or modern fashion, which requires an open mind and comfortable shoes.

4. Open Office

Offices may be getting a little less formal but that doesn't mean that you don't need to look good. Just try not to distract your co-workers.

5. Open Table

While you are walking to your table, all eyes will be on you as you gracefully cross the room and stylishly take your seat.

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5 ways to wear a full skirt

1. Pink Cadillac

For a classic look, tuck a silk blouse into your full skirt and slip on a pair of pumps. Great for office, dinner, party, or brunch.

2. Red Shoe Diaries

A pair of red pumps with a cropped red sweater paired with the full skirt turns it into a come-hither look.

3. Grey Gardens

There is nothing at all depressing about this look. A fitted jacket balances out the fullness of the skirt. The adorable flats are ready to take you to market, or wherever you are headed.

4. White Oleander

This look, reminiscent of something Holly Golightly would have thrown on to look effortlessly chic, is as delicate as a flower.

5. The Black Dahlia

A little bit of edge gives this look a rock feel, but the comfort level means you can wear it anywhere.

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5 ways to wear a LWD

1. The Angel

Draped blazer, metal tipped shoes, gold bag (Work; Desk to Dinner; Date Night)

2. The Devil

A statement print bag with some sleek red accessories (Date Night; Event)

3. The China Doll

A floral print jacket with matching flats, understated bag (Work; Desk to Dinner)

4. The Rocker

Cropped jacket, strap shoes, statement clutch (Event; Date Night)

5. The Gaia

Beige scarf, knee boots, tortoiseshell glasses, satchel (Work; Ladies Night; Day Event)

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5 ways to wear a shift dress

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This shift dress is the perfect background for almost any look.

1. Green-Eyed Charmer

Ready for work or for play, wearing the dress with a collar necklace and loafers is both cute and practical.

2. Black and White Belle

Black and white is basic but it doesn't need to be boring. Tux inspired flats add some fun flair to a basic B&W look.

3. Glitter Goddess

Belting the dress creates a leaner silhouette and glitter accessories make it ready for a night out on the town.

4. Rock Diva

Colour is great but sometimes an all-black ensemble just does the job. In order to make all black interesting, mixing textures and adding fun accessories is key.

5. Amethyst Angel

Everyone looks good in some version of purple. These accessories can take your look from day to night with ease.

 

5 ways to wear a pencil skirt

1. The Schoolgirl

A high-waisted pencil skirt with a cropped sweater provides a little punk inspiration. A plaid bag, safety pin earrings, and studded bracelet round out the look.

2. The Office Mom

A long stripped sweater and basic accessories allows the look to be contemporary and office appropriate. The use of colour makes it anything but boring.

3. The Intern

Pairing the skirt with a black and white blouse and flats creates a comfortable look that holds up well for a long day of school, work, and out with friends.

4. The Ingenue

Guaranteed to turn heads, the high contrast combination of three bright colours keeps you the focus of attention, all night long.

5. The Life of the Party

The little bit of sparkle in this ensemble goes a long way to lighting up your bright smile. There's no way you wouldn't feel great when looking this festive.