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?

March 26, 2014

Welcome to another installment of my Zodiac Dresser series in which I explore astrology through outfits. For the second time, we've come to the last of the twelve zodiac signs, Pisces. I really wanted to have a water feature in these photos, but Virginia's erratic weather of late made that difficult.
Skull Poncho: Y&H, RVA * boots: Argentina 
I immediately thought of Pisces when I found this dress because it is a water sign. 
90s dress: Diversity Thrift
Each zodiac sign represents a stage of human development. Because it falls last in the astrological year, Pisces is associated with death and rebirth, hence my choice of the skull poncho. 
vintage sunglasses: thrifted on Oregon Coast * cloisonné fish with funny nose: from my mom's youth in Beirut
These vintage sunglasses have always had an aquatic quality to them for me. This fish pendant seemed like the perfect piece of jewelry to represent this fishy sign associated with turquoise. 

Are any of my readers Pisces? (SG: I know you are!) Do you relate to the watery, soulful personality typically associated with this sign?

March 25, 2014

Style 101: Know Thyself

Knowing yourself is key to you wearing the clothes instead of the other way around.
(Images in this post are from the 1946 Complete Home Decorator section on different furnishing personality types.)
1946 Complete Home Decorator
Kinda sounds like me! 
*Consider your lifestyle. 
A closet full of sequined cocktail dresses is glamorous but won’t serve you if you work full time in corporate America or an elementary school. Keep the climate of where you live or visit in mind when building your wardrobe. Be aware of your budget as well as how much space you have. Be realistic.

*Understand your body and what flatters you
This is not about judgment; I truly believe beauty comes in all sizes and forms. But this is about you wearing your clothes, remember? If you can’t tell what looks good, find that one friend we all have who is brutally honest and get their help.
1946 Complete Home Decorator
sounds a lot like my mamma 
*Learn about your tastes
Keep a Pinterest or fashion scrapbook to explore your predilections as well as trends. Look for common threads in your taste to begin refining your style.

*Cultivate yourself. 
Confidence is key to owning your style. Love is a verb so love yourself by taking care of your body, intellect, spirit and heart. (More on this in next week’s installment of Style 101 : Confidence is Key.) (link won't work til then)
1946 Complete Home Decorator
*Focus on yourself as an individual, not as a “type”. 
Instead of figuring out if you are a “pear vs. apple shape” or “winter vs. summer,” just figure out what works for you personally.

What steps have you taken towards self-awareness that have improved your style?



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