Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Have big hips & a muffin? Read this.

Have a muffin & big hips?

This is the first important bit: Your best tops & dresses are fitted through the waist & flaring out at the hips. I often find that pieces which flare out from the bust will also work well (as long as they are not too voluminous). 

Hopefully you can see that this style hides the excess weight around your bottom half by skimming over it & not clinging to it.

One Aussie store that does this A line style particularly well is Blue Illusion. 

Because Blue Illusion has a niche market, even in a season of boxy & oversize pieces, they retain their signature shape. 

Today I was wandering through Country Road (notorious for younger trendier styles) and I spotted this little gem amongst all its boxy oversize brother & sisters. 




In 100% super fine merino wool, machine washable, it has a fit & flare waist. 

In fact, Country Road is calling it a peplum knit. Don't panic if you never had any luck with the peplums of last summer. 
This one is different.

How? 

The peplum isnt sewn on. Instead its created by the way the item is knitted, so it flares out without any horizontal seams. 

This means that the eye isnt drawn to any horizontal seams and isnt expecting the narrowest part of your waist to sit at any seam. Given that the chances of this happening are buckleys and none, it's no wonder those summer peplums looked great on the hanger & not so great on us. 

This is the second important bit: The upshot of this beauty is that if your narrowest waist is a couple of cm about the top's narrowest waist or a couple of cm below the top's narrowest waist, it wont kill the fit. Gotta love that sort of fit flexibility is what we love. 

The top is also in that off white which Country Road calls marshmallow. 




The marshmallow looks a tad see though on the site. But the black was opaque. 



The other gorgeous thing about the top is the open scoop neckline - even a girl with an ample bust can wear it. 

Small bust? Add a scarf. Hermes optional. 

http://www.countryroad.com.au/shop/woman/clothing/new-in/60166564/Wool-Peplum-Knit.html

If you try this on, please let me know on the Facebook page what you think. 

Now if only they did it in a navy, a burgundy, a cream and a soft pink.......

Saturday, April 19, 2014

It's the little things - brought to you by Kate's broderie frocks



Style into Action thought that these three broderie anglaise frocks had some interesting details both in the fit & their styles - worth chatting about.  Because if you overlook the details, your look will suffer. This I promise you. 

The front bodice of dress #1 by Zimmermann has a stiffness about the fabric which doesnt allow her curves to show as well as they should. I do however like the skirt. 

The parts of dress #2 (colour, fabric, sleeves, bodice, skirt etc) are very nice. However when I step back & look at it, it creates a scarecrow look to her body. Even though the fit is technically perfect, the "step back & look at the forest from the trees" scarecrow thing is where less experienced designers fall short compared to more experienced designers.

The Alexander McQueen #3 dress is the super expensive one of the three. I love its skirt, the peplum & the vee neckline.  But I see three things wrong with it - these will be minor to the layperson's eye, but they stand out for me. 

First, the torso of the dress seems a touch long for her body - as it is wrinkling & I dont see her leaning forward, that's the only conclusion I can come to. 

Second, it has a self belt. The one way that guarantees a garment to look more expensive is to substitute a self belt with a leather belt. I have never seen an exception to this rule. 

Third, the beauty about hideously expensive garments is their construction. All the stuff that goes on behind the outer fabric - I call it the scaffolding. 

Generally though, for traditional clothing, scaffolding is only "beautiful" when it is invisible. Making a traditional dress with visible scaffolding misses the point. 

If however the dress is art, say like at the Met Ball or something that Anna Dello Russo would wear, then it's OK for the scaffolding to be on display. 

Kate's dress is not one of these standouts; its traditional. Yet the scaffolding is showing up as thickness around her midsection, immediately above her belt. I think she can do better. 

So what does this mean?

Paying attention to the details is vital in looking fabulous, well dressed & pulled together. The more you read fashion, the more your eye gets used to the details. 

The details include:

No creases
No peek-a-boob
No scuffed shoes
Nothing tight or pulling
Nothing see through (where see through isnt called for)
Harmonious accessories
No visible undergarments
No runs in your stockings (keep a spare pair)

Get the drift?

Style means keeping your eye on the details.  



  



Friday, April 18, 2014

10 Ways with a Fashionable Easter

1. Designer bunny ears

Louis Vuitton AW 2009
Maison Michel bunny headband

 

Maison Michel bunny ears


2. Bunny bags



3. Mulberry bunny




4. High end eggs

Giorgio Armani

Just Cavalli


5. Kissy kissy




6. On trend eggs

Denim

Monochrome
 
7. Fluffy live bunny




8. ibunny




9. Fashionable bunny

 


10. Pantone eggs



Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Pilling - myths and truths

Generally, cheap stores tell customers that pilling is a 
normal characteristic of wool/cotton sweaters. 

This is incorrect. 

Pilling is a normal characteristic of CHEAP sweaters.

On the plus side, pilling can be removed quite easily although on a cheap sweater this may need to be done frequently. 

You get what you pay for strikes again. 

Pilling is when the sweater develops small fuzzy balls of its fibres, on its surface. 

Usually if a garment is susceptible to pilling this will occur relatively quickly once it is worn several times. Issues with the fibres of the yarn will usually become apparent quickly. Generally a garment that has not shown signs of pilling in the early stages will look good for years to come.

Why does pilling occur?

There are a number of variables which contribute to pilling. Being a natural fibre, every batch of wool is different and may attract varying reasons of why it may pill. 

Before we start, let's go back to basics.



1. The sheep is shorn.



2. The fibre that is shorn off the sheep is called the staple.



3. A spun fibre has the ends of the staples wrapped all around it all along its length. The ends of the staples are not restricted to the ends of the spun fibre.


The concept of the staple and the spun fibre applies also to cotton and other natural fibres even though they may derive from plants rather than animals. 

Pilling also occurs on acrylic sweaters, however I am not going to waste energy analysing the cheap of the cheap. 

But now that we know the basics, let's get to the nitty gritty. 

Why does pilling occur?

1. Friction with the ends of the staple. 

This is the main factor by far.

The better the ends are tucked into the spun fibre, the less pilling that will occur.  

Basically, pilling is caused when the ends of the staple are disturbed/bruised etc. So the more exposed the ends are, the more pilling that occurs. Pilling is not caused at the length of the staple. 

But the real kicker is the length of the staple

The longer the staple, the better it integrates/tucks into the yarn when spun, ensuring it is well meshed into the yarn and less likely for fibre ends to protrude. A long fibred clean yarn will perform well when worn and washed.

No surprises, the longer the staple, the more expensive the yarn & the more expensive the sweater. Short staples are cheaper than long staples. 

A high street brand will never tell you that they use cheap yarn with short staples. But they do. That's the main reason the sweater is affordable. 

2. The dying process 

Dying colours into yarns and fabrics is very stressful on the fibres and its structural properties. High temperatures are used to get the dyes to take and sometimes this can make the fibres brittle and to break into shorter fibres. Darker colours are often dyed at higher temperatures and can sometimes be more prone to pilling.

3. Knit structure 

The stitch used in creating a fabric is important in assisting the durability of the yarn. A tight flat fabric stitch has less surface area and results in less pills/snags and overall protects the yarn fibres. 

Conversely a loose and boldly textured fabric is more susceptible as it is more exposed with a larger surface area. This issue can be particularly frustrating for designers as looser textured fabrics are more fashionable and demanded by the consumers. This becomes a delicate balance of fashion over function.

4. Body placement

Depending on the area of the body, wear and tear of a garment can also encourage a garment to pill. Repetitively worn areas such as under the arms, over the breasts or on the sides and hips are high frequency pilling areas. Continual irritation slowly unseats the yarn structure and rubs the fibres out of the fabric.

5. Laundering

The use of unapproved detergents and harsh irritating wash cycles can be harmful to the woollen fibre. Detergents can break down the fibres and make them brittle resulting is long fibres breaking and becoming short. Short fibres tend to come loose of the yarn and migrate to the surface of the garment.

How to manage pilling?

Pilling looks unsightly. It kills a looks every time. Luckily there are ways to manage it.

1. Those battery operated gizmos at supermarkets




2. A pumice stone





3. Razor blades

I have seen people use naked razor blades run over 
the surface of the knit - I wouldn't recommend that due to
the danger of cutting the fibres (as well as the pills). Truly 
scary stuff.

4. Look after your clothes


The better you look after the garment, the less the fibres will
bruise and the less the pilling will occur.

In summary



* The main factor contributing to pilling is the length of the fibre when it is harvested from the animal/plant. 

* Longer lengths mean the ends are tucked in better and less friction occurs with those ends. 

* Less friction with the ends means less pilling. 

* Longer lengths means more expensive garments.

* You get what you pay for strikes again. 


Friday, April 11, 2014

Learn to be your own wardrobe consultant




If you are in the market to select a image/ wardrobe consultant to help you with your wardrobe issues, please bear in mind the following three points:

1. Comfortable & inspired

You have to feel comfortable & inspired by the person you hire.

If you havent met them, after reviewing their website or Facebook page, have a coffee with them. In effect, you are interviewing them. 

At this session, you can ask questions & they can outline what they offer and together you can pick what's suitable for your specific needs.

Services tend to be quite standard & can be offered singlely or as packages, for a single person or for groups (mum, best friends etc).

The services can include occasion shopping, seasonal wardrobe top up, a wardrobe cull, identifying what flatters you (styles and/or colours), professional image tips, glamour/photography looks, hair & beauty tips etc. The better consultants will make you feel excited but calm about working with them. It will feel easy to select what suits your style and budget. 

All reputable consultant will offer the coffee chat as a complimentary part of the service.  

2. Planning 

Unless you are shopping for a very specific occasion, be very wary of any image/wardrobe consultant who offers you a package which involves more time shopping & less time planning/culling.

Coming away with bags of new clothes, without specific & detailed planning based on what is in your wardrobe at the moment, is destined wardrobe disaster. In this case I can 100% guarantee you that you will wear 80% of what you bought in that spree 20% of the time. 

If the consultant doesnt do the specific/detailed planning with you or suggest very clearly that shopping without that planning is of limited value, you are about to waste serious money. 

3. Communication

I'm going to be blunt here. 
Some wardrobe/image consultants cant communicate to save their lives.  Yes they can speak English well and they can style & they know when a look works and when it doesnt.

But here are the really critical practical applications: 

a) They cant explain WHY a look/colour works and WHY it doesnt. 

They cant explain to you why the lines on this particular garment work well for you & why the lines on that particular garment arent working for you. A good image consultant will TEACH you what lines to look for and what lines to avoid for your height & body shape. 

b) They cant show you which colours suit you, in the store, without putting you through their formal colour analysis (at additional cost) off site. A good image consultant can literally TEACH you your best colours in the store by playing with garments on hangers. They can give you the swatches without putting you through the formal colour analysis and only charge you the cost of those swatches. 

You see, without being TAUGHT to understand your colours, merely holding those swatches up every time you like a garment can get quite painful. When you understand your colours, you can walk into a store & automatically know 95% of the stories to avoid without holding up the swatch book. If you are TAUGHT correctly, it becomes innate. A good image consultant will TEACH you so you can stand on your own two feet.    

The only way to get real value for money with an image/style session is if the person you have hired has a command of English that can explain WHY, each step of the way.
Why is code for "Please explain in what way specifically this works or doesnt". Why is code for the consultant is articulate.

Why that colour works for you
Why that colour doesnt work for you
What it is about that hemline's placement that works
What it is about that sleeve shape that doesnt work
What it is about the silhouette that works
What it is about the fabric that works (body, texture, shine etc)
Why that waist line works for you
Why the placement of those darts doesnt work for you
Why those zips are not your best friend

Examples

Example 1

An image consultant may put up photos of clients which show one client with a complexion which was "clear" versus another client with a complexion which was "muted".

[The point of this is that the clear (high contrast) client looks best in clear shades while the muted (low contrast) client looks best in muted shades.]

Firstly, no explanation accompanies the photos. 
Secondly, a reader may comment that she doesn't understand "muted".

The image consultant may respond with something along the lines of "Clear is clear, muted is not clear or bright but soft". 

I don't consider this a value for money answer. I would expect better. It is merely parroting the jargon without explaining it. 

Example 2

An image consultant may state that this isnt the most flattering hem length for the Duchess.  


If the only explanation they give is that hemlines which are "in no man's land" or "neither here nor there" are not flattering, I would say that doesn't suffice. 

Nor would an explanation which stated that "longer hemlines make legs look shorter". This just isnt true even as a general statement. 

The real reason this isnt technically flattering is because the hemline cuts at the widest point of her calves. However for completeness, because she is so slim/tall, it isnt a real issue in style terms, in this case.  

Example 3

This example is what prompted this post. This one is a real life example.

Here are descriptions of two image/colour/style courses, as shown in the local community college brochure. Both paragraphs are written by the respective teachers.  

Course A is a bit more expensive than Course B. 

Which would you choose? 



Cost aside, Course A's description runs rings around Course B. Notice how the wording of A is articulate, precise, informative and reasonably clear? In short, it makes sense & it flows logically.

The wording in Course B is all over the shop (pun intended). Not only does it lack stucture (intro, body, punchline) but the sentences arent even complete. I wouldnt expect her to be able to TEACH me anything, let alone image consulting. 

Summary

Unless the image consultant TEACHES you to be your own image consultant, how are you ever going to stand on your own two feet? You will literally need them every time you spring clean or shop and that's impractical, costly & plain silly.

If you dont want to hear this information, you just let them know. But being offered this information is what distinguishes the great image consultants from the rest. 



Monday, April 7, 2014

Fabric & construction 101: those tummy holes






Some tee shirt holes are deliberate.
Like the $1.6K Balmain khaki tee from a few seasons ago.

Some tee shirt holes are not deliberate. 
Like those tiny holes on the tummy area of your tee shirts.

Fact: Most of the time, those tiny holes are not a manufacturing issue nor a fault of the brand. 

Sorry, that's not what you want to hear.  

But it's the truth.

Fact: Those tiny holes are caused by friction - when the tee rubs against something. That something is generally an external surface or your clothing. Often both. 

Fact: The nasty external surfaces tend to be seat belts or the sides of bench tops.

Fact: The nasty clothing tends to be your jean fly - because the fly is a really rough surface or the edge of the fly, which is also a tough section of fabric. 

Fact: Tee shirts come in a variety of fabrics & weaves.

Fact: The tiny holes are pretty much guaranteed on cotton tees, especially where it is a fine weave.

Fact: The fact that the tee cost alot of money (think uber designer or James Perse, Majestic, Enza Costa and anything in pima cotton) makes absolutely no difference. 

In fact, the expensive brands do fine weaves far more often than cheaper brands, so you will see the issue more in that more expensive space. 

Fact: the tiny holes are rare on tees which have elastene or a synthetic mix. 

Fact: The tees which tend to exhibit this issue tend to be worn loose. Wearing a tee loose doesn't make the problem go away

Fact: If you want to make this problem go away, short of locking yourself in a room for the rest of your life and not moving much, don't buy those tee shirts which make this problem highly likely. 

Fact: If you insist on buying those tees, then wear a cami underneath than covers the jeans fly area, so the tee doesnt rub directly against it. The stretch strappy singlet tops which are sold in discount stores are fine for this - just make sure they dont rise up as you move around, hence exposing the fly front to the tee. Make sure they have enough length in the torso. 

Fact: If you buy one of these fine tees, there is a good chance the hole will happen on the first or second wear. But I can guarantee you that it wont happen on a thick model with elastene.

Usually I am the first person to expect more from the retailer. In this case, it's not the retailer's fault. 

Frankly I think these tees should be flagged as "delicate around the tummy especially with jeans", just like garments are often flagged as open weaves and delicate with jewellery. 

Fact: The factors mentioned above all contribute to create these tiny holes. It's a reasonable outcome. It's reasonable wear & tear. 

Normally brands won't provide a remedy to the customer for wear & tear. Normally remedies are for faulty goods, where a product wont stand up to reasonable wear & tear.

The tiny holes are not a fault. They are simply wear & tear. 
They are reasonable wear & tear. 

But if you use your common sense and buy something else, this wont be a problem. 

Please dont wait until you have five tees, all from the same brand, all with the same problem to complain. 

Why not complain after it's happened say, the second time?

Why complain if it's not a fault?

A retailer will often resolve your issue favourably in the interests of maintaining customer goodwill. Even if they are not at fault. This is good. 

The more of an issue you make it, the more publicly you raise it, say in the store in front of other customers or on social media, the more likely it will resolve in your favour. 

But instead of complaining about an inevitable issues, it may be better to avoid it by altering your buying habits.  






   

    

Naked pregnant magazine covers


1991 by Fran Leibovitz


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2006 - subscriber cover



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