Friday, July 9, 2010

Fashion; It's Quick and Painless

At least, it can be if you know how to do it. For the longest time, I didn't really bother with fashion because I thought it was too much work. I wore basic jeans, t-shirts, and tennis shoes, and the same stud earrings in my ear almost every day. I wore make-up, and at that point I had already gotten pretty good at the "5 minute face", but it wasn't the greatest quality stuff. It wasn't until my senior year in high school that things started to click with me, and a while after that that I really started to master things. When I had the time, I was able to put together outfits that looked good, but in the mornings I was still more inclined to sleep than figure out what was cute to wear.

Now? I think I can call myself a pro. I've learned how to put together great outfits (complete with accessories) and make myself up all in a way that's as fast as possible, and for not too much money. Getting dressed, and doing my make-up/hair in the morning, takes me about 20 minutes, and (not to toot my own horn) I get compliments for my outfits all the time. Want to learn how to do it too? I'll give you my tips.

With clothes there is studying you have to do. There are items to invest in, and there are items that you shouldn't spend more than 20 dollars on. How do you figure this out? My basic list of investment items is this; jeans, good slacks, a great pencil skirt... in general items with staying power (aka something that isn't going to go out of style). Every woman should have these wardrobe basics, and why waste the money replacing worn out cheap ones, when you can spend a little more money less often. What it really comes down to is the price per wear ratio. If you buy a pair of good quality dark wash jeans for 70 dollars (this is the most I'll spend. I'm not worried about paying for labels, just a pair that makes me look good. Labels don't matter people) and you wear them two times a week, and they last you two years, that comes put to roughly 67 cents per wear. If you buy a 20 dollar pair of jeans, wearing them twice a week, but after 5 months the knees are stretched out and worn thin, and the butt is saggy (trust me, you don't want to wear saggy butt jeans) it's only 50 cents per wear, but most people want their jeans to be able to last longer. Spend that money on a cute fun top that was only going to be in style for those 5 months anyway.

So that's how to buy clothes. Putting them together is different. The key here is knowing what colors look good you, and how those colors can go together. If you've ever watched What Not to Wear (if you haven't, you should) you know that Stacy and Clinton's favorite sentence is "It doesn't match, it goes," For some people, that's hard to learn. They think, if you wear a green top, that means that everything else you wear must be a neutral or green. This is just about the fastest way possible to make yourself look out dated. The modern way? If you're wearing a green top (psst... it's flattering on you right? doesn't make you look like a frump or a stripper? good) then you should pair it with neutral pants (or shorts or a skirt). The accessories, and I'll get into these more later, should be a different color, and they don't necessarily have to be the same different color. So your shirt's green, you put on some black pants, then maybe some plumy purple shoes (purple and green are great together), teal blue earrings, and a necklace that's in a tarnished antique gold tone with maybe a red or orange pendant. None of those colors match, but if you get the right shades, they go.

While I consider hair and make-up to be accessories, I'm going to address them separately. Right now, I'm talking about the wondrous world of earrings, necklaces, scarfs, shoes, bracelets, belts, etc. Learning about accessories was the point at which I really got it. It made it so simple to look put together. If your wearing jeans and a V-neck top, pretty much no matter how flattering the clothes are, you're outfit will look unfinished until there is a necklace or a scarf to fill that empty space (if you're really daring you can do a pair of big earrings, but it's tricky to do right).

Shoes are also really important. Aside from the obvious reasons, like the fact that they're shoes and not your bare feet, they have the all powerful ability to make or break an outfit. You could have a great outfit, but if you put on a pair of chunky soled brown leather shoes with visible stitching... the whole outfit turns bad. Heavy shoes weigh you down, and they make your feet look big and chunky. Please please, if you have a pair of these shoes don't wear them in public. Taking the dog out at night, or working in the yard is fine, but that's it. I tend to live my life in flats, because it's hard for me to find a pair of comfortable heels, but if you can wear heels then great!

Some general shoe do's and don'ts are these:
Do; wear shoes you can feel confident in. If you have trouble walking in heels, no matter how fierce and fashion forward they are, you'll look awkward and uncomfortable, and you can't be you (and "you" are the best accessory you have).
Do; get a great pair of pointed shoes. Flat or heeled, they are fabulous. Don't go too pointy though, or they'll cross into the elf or witch realm (especially pointy heeled black boots, these are tricky to find right)
Do; make sure that your round toed shoes look more like an oval or the top of an egg round than circle. Circle round shoes cut off the line of your foot and have the tendency to make them look like hoofs, especially if they're circle round toed heels. That little bit of stretched oval/egg shape lengthens the line of your whole leg and makes you look slimmer.
Do; make sure that your boots fit you right around the calf. I know for some people this is very difficult (used to work in a shoe store remember) so it can be frustrating, but if something is to big or too small, it's just as unflattering as clothing in the same situation.
Don't; wear your gym or running shoes anywhere but gym or running. Sure, you may be "running" errands, but that doesn't mean you can't wear a pair of cute ballet flats instead.
Don't; wear anything with a thick ankle strap, it cuts off the line of the leg. You look shorter, your legs look stumpy, and it's always hard to find one where the strap fits right anyway, so just say no.
Don't; wear shoes with too much "toe cleavage". A little is ok, but too much is weird.

Hair and Make-up;
My hair and make-up routine is probably the area where I spend the least amount of time. I am a devotee to both "5 minute face" and "wash and wear hair". With make-up on a normal day to day basis, you don't want it too complicated. I always do a little loose powder foundation and blush, then I play up my eyes with a little liner, shadow, and mascara. I almost never do lip color, but when I do I use a stain. For a special occasion, I just intensify the eye make-up a little. Really though, this takes very little time after practice.
Ok, hair. Now, this is a hard one. A lot of the ease for me is that I have a natural texture that makes it so that, with the right cut, it pretty much styles itself. A few months back I started coloring it though, and it brings a whole new life to my locks. Really, my advice to you here, is to find the right haircut, that's flattering to your face and that doesn't fight with what your hair wants to do.

Wow, I wrote a lot more than I originally planned, but I thought this would be a fun way to get back into blogging, and make up for my absence. Later in the week I might try to post some pictures as examples of what I'm talking about.

Wow it's been a while

Sorry I've dropped off the radar. I know there aren't many of you who read this, but I've heard mention (coughmomcough) that my absence has been noticed. Anyway, I spend much more time during the day sitting and staring at a computer thanks to my new job as a receptionist, but facebook is blocked so what's to do but this (and work, I do get work done)? Anyway, you will be hearing more from me. I'm actually in the process of working up a new post that's inspired by a few new blogs I've started following. Check back soon my friends.