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Archive for Book Review

Its in the details!

I have trouble with this!

His books were common bathroom reading material years ago – but Richard Carlson’s Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff used to kill me. When you’re a detail oriented person like me, the details are the only thing that matter. Let me show you how details can affect your first impression.

I recently attended a networking event within walking distance of my home. It still being early spring, I didn’t want to wear black leather boots, so settled for some comfortable caramel leather short ones. Anticipating puddles and melting snow banks, these weren’t admittedly my best boots, but they were clean and nicely polished. (Lots of details about my boots).

Muddy shoes fail to impress

There’s always an awkward part at networking events where each individual is put on the spot to pitch their”elevator speech”. Although I was feeling somewhat self-conscious about my boots, it was a relief that no one could see the others’ feet. I looked down as the young woman next to me stood for her turn to speak. My well loved, but highly polished booties positively gleamed next to her dull, mud-covered granny laceup shooties. The young lady was dressed alright otherwise (and I missed my chance when the event ended to compliment her beautifully thick ungroomed eyebrows), but the shoes ruined her look. I also loved her distinctive designer sportwatch – totally awesome – but not for the Law Office she represented. Her outfit was okay, but the details wrecked it.

I also chatted to a Fashionista Banker at the same networking event who arrived in a pink coat. Vibrant and interesting coats had become her style trademark. She laughed when I told her that I work as a Wardrobe Consultant and said I could make a fortune in that room alone! Great, I said, you hand out my business cards to whoever needs them! In a sea of dark coloured coats this woman found that her way to stand out was with colour. She echoed the colour of the coat in other details in her outfit, such as scarves, handbags or gloves.

In Fashion, details are one of the things that set apart mass manufactured goods from quality, bespoke pieces. Details such as decorative stitching, buttons, visible or invisible zippers, bound buttonholes, piping, embroidery, trims, lace, etc. are what can really make a piece of clothing. Details make an item stand out and can make you stand out. Choose pieces that have something special about them, not just because they’ll “do”.

Don’t be afraid to spend money, time and attention on the details of your outfit. Sometimes I plan an outfit around an accessory like a statement necklace or a favourite shoe. Get a good haircut and colour if necessary. Keep your shoes polished and in good repair. Take care of your hands and nails. Take good care of your skin. Others do notice these things and as they always say – there’s only one chance to make a good first impression!

Neutral groomed nails
Always a Do!

Text me or email me your outfit photo and I’ll respond with an honest opinion.

Send an email to ac.elytslaernull@ofni and I’ll provide you with outfit suggestions.

 

 

Lessons from Madame Chic by Jennifer L. Scott – Book Review

by Jennifer L. Scott

Yes, another book review! The long winter was good for getting my reading up to date. Interestingly, I chose another book that reinforced what I learned from Overdressed. In Lessons from Madame Chic Jennifer Scott shares in this very readable book twenty secrets she learned while in Paris studying abroad from her native California. Jennifer covers insight she gleaned about various aspects of living while spending time with several Parisian families. She also shows how she incorporates these ideas into her life today as a young mother.

Ms. Scott wryly observes some of the differences between the French and American lifestyles – the French walk, Americans drive. The French take their meals a table, Americans eat in front of the TV. The French live in apartments without elevators, Americans work out at the gym, etc. But one of the author’s biggest surprises was that the French as a rule have very small wardrobes and no qualms about “outfit repeating”. Jennifer lugged suitcases stuffed with clothes to last her six months only to find out that a tiny free standing wardrobe was provided to store them in. Her host family (Monsieur, Madame and adult son Chic) had only a skeletal amount of clothing (roughly 12 pieces each) that they washed and wore over and over again. Their clothing all worked well together – all tops colour-coordinated with all bottoms so there was much versatility from few items. The capsule wardrobe of a dozen pieces changed with the seasons and did not include clothing for specific wear only. For instance – formal wear, exercise clothes, undergarments, layering pieces and accessories did not count toward the 12 pieces. The items were of high quality so stood up to repeated washings and wearings.

 

Sample Capsule Wardrobe
courtesy of Lucky Magazine

What nicely tied these two books together for me was that both authors encouraged the reader to buy (or make) fewer clothes but to choose items of higher quality. This makes good sense economically and practically and is greener for the planet, easier on the self (fewer choices to make) and more enjoyable (who doesn’t like higher quality?)

I’m a CCW (constant closet weeder) and found that I already subscribed to a capsule wardrobe. I have hanging in my closet (or ideally on a rolling rack) only items that I will be choosing my daily outfit from. I don’t  like to to see clothes that are  the wrong size, out of season or that no longer express my identity. On my last visit to Anthropologie I was pleased to see multiple copies of Ms. Scott’s book stacked high amongst their clothing. In fact, I’m planning to add this book to my own library. Jennifer has lots of other good lessons on how to live mindfully.

Keeping me busy now is planning my capsule wardrobe for Spring from my existing clothes. I’ve got a great denim jacket, some camo/flower skinny jeans with ankle zippers, tops in nautical stripes, a few items in a blushy pink and some new black moto boots. I can’t wait to put it all together! I think Jennifer and Madame Chic would approve.

 

 

Overdressed by Elizabeth L. Cline – Book Review

 

This book will change the way
you think about clothes!

I was looking for Alexa Chung’s new book, It. The public library didn’t have it. The next best bet was Indigo. They had It, but as I thumbed through the book I quickly realized I would not be buying it.  Browsing the stalls in the fashion section one book title did jump out at me – OVERDRESSED the shockingly high cost of cheap fashion. I picked it up and a quick flip-through revealed not a picture in sight. A fashion book with no pictures? Hhhmm, this must be something more serious. The front cover boasts a quote by Katha Pollitt “OVERDRESSED does for T-shirts and leggings what FAST FOOD NATIONS did for burgers and fries.”  That’s quite a statement! Intrigued, I dropped a few hints and received the book as a Christmas gift.

When I finally sat down with it, I devoured the book! It was fascinating reading right from the first page, and were it not for a night’s sleep, I would have finished it in one sitting. Elizabeth Cline has done her research and knows her facts. From shamelessly opening her own closet to visiting clothing factories in China, she brings into question our values as a nation with her insights into our shopping habits.  Today’s society has been brought up to clothing shop for entertainment, purchase clothes they don’t need or wear and to amass wardrobes with hundreds if not thousands of pieces. Cline discusses the  impact that today’s disposable clothing has on the environment, how it virtually eliminated the garment industry in North America and how it is affecting the global economy.

Normally a book about economics would not interest me but I found this book easy to read and accurate in the conclusion it draws. Clothing (unlike some consumable items) has gone down drastically in price over the last hundred years. So has its perceived value. Consumers are now accustomed to buying clothes at the grocery store (thanks Joe Mimran) and seeing stores change their entire line-up of clothing every 4-6 weeks (thanks Gap). Clothing is manufactured cheaply in countries such as China, India and Bangladesh. Consumers refuse to pay higher prices for items of higher quality, content instead to purchase shoddily made clothing of inferior fibres that languish in closets unworn. Interestingly, with the ready availability of cheaply priced clothing, the price of hand made/couture/designer  or non mass-produced clothing has gone up. This has also driven up the price of vintage clothing.

People today have 3 – 10 times as many clothes as their grandparents did (just look in the closets of an 80 year old home). I find it hard to believe that my grandparents both hung their clothing on one one rail in one tiny closet. (That was before the days of California Closets!)

I am so glad that I read this book. It has made me realize that I should no longer settle for cheap clothing. Clothing is something that should be loved, worn and valued. When our wardrobes consist of cheap polyester items from H & M or Forever 21, we are not making wise and mindful choices. Armed with Ms. Cline’s knowledge I am more determined than ever to have fewer pieces of higher quality clothing. For more information buy or read the book or check out the website at www.overdressedthebook.com.