April 22, 2014

Style 101: Silhouette and Proportion

Mastering silhouette and proportion is key to wearing flattering outfits. There are always exceptions to these rules, though. Trial and error is the best way to figure out what kinds of silhouettes and proportions work best on your body.


He goes further into detail in his books.

*When in doubt, use the 2/3 or proportion rule or just wear one piece.
Don't chop your body in half. ex. Wear a cropped jacket with a mid-length or long dress, not over a tee and jeans which chops you up.
Notice how I paired a voluminous skirt with a very tight top tucked in so it broke my outfit into 2/3rds. 
*Wear tight garments with loose/voluminous ones.
If you wear skinny jeans, wear a tunic not a tube top. If you wear a billowy skirt, pair it with a tight halter, not an over-sized tee.

*Use proportion and fit to emphasize your favorite features and downplay your least favorite.
Don’t want to draw attention to your butt? A loose tunic. Nice decolletage? Wear sweetheart necklines.

*Proper foundation garments are key to a successful silhouette.
This is especially true for authentic vintage looks. I used to think all women in the 1950s were knockouts with big pointy boobs and tiny waists. Then I discovered bullet bras and waist-cinchers. That’s a bit extreme for today’s world, but bras in particular can make or break a look.

*Consider a tailor or learn to alter your clothes. 
Sometimes the best way to get a garment with the exact right proportions for your body is to make it so! This is particularly useful for reliable wardrobe basics and for formal or business attire.
How do you consider silhouette and proportion when you get dressed?


April 20, 2014

Musings on Astrology

I see astrology as a source of inspiration and exploration. I believe the twelve zodiac signs represent personality archetypes that relate to imagery from what Carl Jung coined the collective unconscious. Here, in his own words, is Carl Jung on astrology: 
"Astrology is one of the intuitive methods like the I Ching, geomantics, and other divinatory procedures. It is based upon the synchronicity principle, i.e. meaningful coincidence. ... Astrology is a naively projected psychology in which the different attitudes and temperaments of man are represented as gods and identified with planets and zodiacal constellations."
"The collective unconscious...appears to consist of mythological motifs or primordial images, for which reason the myths of all nations are its real exponents. In fact the whole of mythology could be taken as a sort of projection of the collective unconscious. We can see this most clearly if we look at the heavenly constellations, whose originally chaotic forms are organized through the projection of images. This explains the influence of the stars as asserted by astrologers. These influences are nothing but unconscious, introspective perceptions of the collective unconscious."
Medieval Arab astrologer in a manuscript from the Bod (via)
Here's what I do and don't believe about astrology:
I don't believe that astrology... 
  • can predict the future. (I have absolutely zero belief whatsoever in divination of any kind.) 
  • should be taken too seriously. (I don't believe in taking anything too seriously!) 
I don't read my daily horoscope and find pranks by the Amazing Randi hilarious. 
But I do believe in astrology nonetheless. I believe astrology provides:
  • a form of symbols-based personal psychology.
  • counterparts to the traditional Freudian tropes of the id, ego and superego. (That is the extent of my belief in Freudian psychology, fwiw.) 
  • a language and set of symbols useful for introspection and self exploration. 
  • symbols which help us delve into our fertile but cryptic subconscious minds in order to understand or solve personal dilemmas. These same symbols also help us feel a greater sense of connectedness to the universe at large. 
Skeptics will say that astrology is not a science. No, it is not. Neither are literature, painting, philosophy or meditation. Astrology, like so many other wonderful "disciplines", is an art to be interpreted by the individual. 

I am especially interested in astrology's use of the four elements (fire, earth, air and water) and related symbolism as they relate to personal psychology and personal style (more in later posts!). 
These earrings represent the 4 elements used in astrology, a blatant example of imagery from the collective unconscious
(for sale via)
I use astrology as a tool for my personal benefit because otherwise, why bother?! For example, my sun sign (ego) is in Aries, ruled by the warrior god Mars. I am, in fact, a passionate, fired-up individual and meditate on the image of Mars to channel my Aries energy into my activism. 
Zodiac Man by the Limbourg brothers ca. 1400 (via)

So do I find that my astrological chart describes me accurately? Actually, for the most part, yes. For the record, I'm an Aries sun (ego), Cancer rising (superego) and Scorpio moon (id). Could it all be charming coincidence? Sure, but so what?  

Because at the heart of it all, I study astrology, tarot and new age in general, in the spirit of  creativity, introspection and, most of all, fun. "And, of course, everyone knows, fun rules." -- Waking Life

So, readers, what are you thoughts on astrology? Do you treat it like religion or mumbo jumbo? I'd love to hear your reactions to this post in the comments! 
PS: Most of what I said also applies to my thoughts on tarot.

April 16, 2014

The Zodiac Dresser: Aries

Today's post celebrates Aries, the very first sign in the astrological calendar and this year's Zodiac Dresser Series. This time around, I'm going to include more personal thoughts and haiku about each sign. Aries is my sun sign, so thankfully I'm starting with something familiar and personal. 

Aries: number one!;
a fiery boss who likes to laugh;
an upbeat leader.

90s red putana lace dress: thrifted in West Virginia 
Sure, Aries can be bossy, combative and childish but they also know how to get things done with a smile. Associated with the color red, this sign is sporty and saucy, so I chose cowboy boots paired with a putana lace dress
Ariat boots courtesy of Country Outfitter
Aries is a cardinal fire sign, meaning it is initiator within its element. As a result, I liken Aries to a spark: bright, passionate, and quick. We tend to love the starts of things, but not so much the tedium involved in persisting and finishing them. As a result, when it comes to fashion, Aries really like to set bold--even shocking-- trends, but don't tend to commit to any one style for too long. Famous Aries Lady Gaga is a great example. 

Are any of you fellow Aries? How would you describe your style and personality?

April 15, 2014

Style 101: Color is Your Friend

Develop an eye for color and master successful combinations so you can really have fun with style.
1946 Complete Home Decorator
from the 1946 Complete Home Decorator 
*Learn how the color wheel works.
Pay attention to the concept of complimentary colors. Consider taking a painting class to deepen your understanding of color.

I consider Miuccia Prada a complete genius when it comes to color (via).
*Consult the experts.
Kate Spade offers a thoughtful discussion on color in Style. Pay careful attention to how designers and artists like Miuccia Prada and Van Gogh treat and combine color.

*If possible, get a professional hair and makeup consultation, in that order. 
This just means seeking a good hair colorist’s opinion and seeing what a knowledgeable makeup counter recommends.
Notice how this bird of paradise flower contains purple and orange tones, one of my favorite color combos (via)
*Look to nature for clues.
Much of what we perceive as harmonious originates in natural forms such as flowers, birds and landscapes.
1946 Complete Home Decorator
from the 1946 Complete Home Decorator 
*Use paint chips and color palettes to help guide you.
Vintage color palettes are an awesome source of inspiration.

*Pay attention to colors' connotations and associations. 
Certain colors have specific cultural associations, for example, royal purple. Notice how certain colors affect you personally.

*Melina’s favorite color combos:

Lilac and pumpkin and/or royal purple and tangerine: counter-compliments, these colors are a rich but playful combination.

Red, white and blue: not just because it’s patriotic since these colors are used in many nations' flags. This combination is fresh and easily allows for a nautical twist.

Brown and blue: earthy and understated, this combination is the comfort food of color.

What are your favorite colors and color combinations?

April 12, 2014

Outfit: Maritime Cowgirl

I put together this outfit on Friday; I'm pretty proud of it. 
It's 2 parts maritime and 1 part cowgirl. I included a rosemary bush in this shot since it is also associated with the sea. 
shirt: thrifted 90s Express Tricot * necklace: secondhand from Penelope
This outfit is quite a bit more flattering in person, btw. 
Sailor girl
boots: Ariat, courtesy of Country Outfitters
What you can't see in the photos is the barrette I bought from the Bakelite Lady at the San Francisco Vintage Convention. I was really touched, however, when my mom said she had owned one exactly like it in the 70s. 
Button and barrette detail
skirt: secondhand, by Louie 
Well, I hope you've enjoyed today's outfit as much as I've enjoyed wearing it. I foresee myself a summer full of nautically-themed outfits in my near future....

April 08, 2014

Style 101: Total Immersion of the Heart

Like I said in my intro, if style is a language, immersion is key.

*Keep your eyes open to inspiration everywhere. 
Pay attention to things like architecture, landscaping and people around you.
on the left is the cover my jewelry journal and on the right is the sketch for my first Taurus outfit

*Look at fashion magazines and keep a scrapbook/idea journal.
Check out thrift stores and Craigslist for cheap magazines. As you can see above, I actually sketch out outfits as part of my though process. I also use sketches to see how I can use specific items.
some jewelry scrapbooking on the left and some fashion scrapbooking on the right 

*Window shop for ideas.
Just because you can’t afford to shop somewhere doesn’t mean you can’t get inspiration there.

*Stay up to date with arts and culture news.
Know what’s on the runways and in the media.

*Read up
Industry professionals, like my favorites Tim Gunn and Kate Spade, have books full of guidance.

*Become familiar with art and fashion history.
There are books, blogs, documentaries and primary source material all over the place.

How do you immerse yourself in style? Do any of you also keep a style or fashion journal?

April 01, 2014

Style 101: Confidence is Key

My approach to self-confidence is informed by acting classes and the principles of cognitive behavioral therapy and neuroscience. Like just about every.single.person, I often struggle with feelings of insecurity or negative thoughts, but work though it with the tips below.
*Pay attention to your physicality.
We often think of confidence as an emotion residing in our heads. But the truth is, 1. body language is at least half of all communication and 2. There is a mind-body connection. You can manipulate both what you are projecting and feeling by focusing on how you use your body.

*Build confidence in your body through exercise.
When you feel strong, you act strong. Exercise also releases happy chemicals into your system. I have found yoga especially helpful in fostering a mind-body connection, but even a quick walk can boost happy chemicals.

*Fake it til you make it. 
You can make your body posture and facial expressions force you to feel a certain way. In acting, I learned a technique I use whenever I speak publicly (frequently, btw). When you are nervous, your stomach feels inflated, right? But when you feel confident, your chest feels inflated. I don’t run from nervous feelings; instead, I take that physical sensation of inflation and imagine moving it up into my chest. After holding my body like a silver-back gorilla about to take his mate, I have the confidence and vibrancy of, well,  a silver-back gorilla about to take his mate.

*Talk to yourself positively all the time. 
It’s sssssoooo easy to become negative. The beauty industry thrives on and perpetuates our insecurities. Our highly competitive society makes us compare ourselves to others. Stop the madness by psyching yourself up. On your way to work, tell yourself how well you’re going to do. Focus on your strengths. Be optimistic.

via lilbub.com
*Practice positive mental imaging
Take a couple 3-5 minute breaks a day to look at beautiful, cute and/or soothing images with positive assocations. I like Lil Bub and photos of Yosemite. These images will help you feel generally positive so you can bring that energy to the rest of your life. If you think and feel positively, you will feel more confident and less anxious in general.

*Be well: take care of yourself.
If you have issues, go to therapy. Not to preach, but moderate your intake of alcohol and other unhealthy substances as these do affect your state of mind.

*Cultivate yourself. The key to sophistication is culture--read up, see art, learn something new and develop interests and passions.

How do you develop self-confidence and maintain a positive energy?


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