Wednesday, April 30, 2014

You've come a long way baby.

1. Fact: The way you look speaks volumes without 
you saying a word. 

2. Do you know the image you want to project to the world? 

3. Are you projecting that image?

Fact: Image management isnt fluffy, scatterbrained, ditzy or brainless. 

Fact: Image management gets jobs, promotions, receives better service and makes your life smoother & easier.

Your image is about your hair, make up, clothes, accessories, personal care & demeanor.  

Are you in control of your image?

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

PLUS SIZE Lula pretties

Lula is a PLUS SIZE brand at David Jones. It's a brand which reader Kathleen has advised SIA is terrific. SIA agrees. 

Here are a few of the summer pieces remaining at the Castle Hill store, all reduced.  

First, the cross front shirt - the lines on this distract the eye from lumps & bumps. 

Obviously wear with a singlet top or cami underneath & it doesnt have to be nude, white or black. Try a pop of red. 

2. The pleather band on the hem makes this frock directional. A leather belt mimicking the band, helps to pull the look together. 

3. Wear this as an open trench style jacket with a loose opening with the tie. The ruffles create vertical lines.

4. Under no circumstances attempt this next one.
Just because its made by a plus size label, doesnt mean its suitable. All this creates is a giant monoboob and a fat torso. 

5. This is a sharp piece. Try it open or closed with a cami or tank underneath. Ideally those "arrows" created under the bust should be placed under the bust. If they are sitting on the girls, put it back. 

6. A lovely piece with its own detachable cami. Love the low neckline to break up any monoboob. 

7. Love this. Again, the fit is crucial. 

8. Another lovely

9. This is a throw on soft kaftan. 

10. Love the neckline on this shift with the black binding around a sweetheart neckline. 

11. A stretch number with a mock wrap skirt & a side ruffle.

12. Love this - easy to wear, but add a 3cm wide belt. Love the dense flowers around the upper-middle to emphasise the waist.

13. This looked a bit lary in the store. But when you're in the changeroom, one more frock isnt going to kill you. 

14. A very simply cut shift whose neckline brings the eye upward. That's what we want ladies. 

15. What's not to love?

16. This is a bit tent-ish, but the colours were gorgeous. 

17. A ponte fabric with a terrific neckline.  Would have preferred a slightly longer sleeve, but still worth trying on with a cardi or jacket. Fab for work.

See anything you like?

Monday, April 28, 2014

Colour my home

On the weekend SIA spent time with a client at the paint counter of Bunnings hardware.

The client needed help with colour schemes in her home and SIA thinks they both needed help maintaining their sanity.

Colour confusion

You see, anyone who understands colour can break down some important elements to the following:

·       hue which is the pure colour

·       tint which is the pure colour with white added

·       shade which is the pure colour with black added

·       intensity/chroma/saturation is the purity of a hue such that highest intensity or purity is the hue as it appears in the spectrum or on the color wheel.
·       tone which is a hue with reduced intensity or dulled strength. The other word is that the hue is muted.

You create a tone in one of two ways. First by adding a neutral gray, equal in value to the hue. For example, a light gray added to yellow or a medium gray added to red or a dark gray added to violet.  Second by adding its complement.

·       undertone  using the cool v warm spectrum

This diagram says volumes about light v dark (vertical axis)
and clear v muted (horizontal axis). 

Now if you can understand all that without having studied colour, you are doing well.

The point of this post is very simple.

If you are doing colour for one room, fine, do it alone. You can only go wrong as far as one room.

If you are doing a whole house, I can almost promise you that you will get it wrong unless you bring in a colour expert to help you.

Why will you get it wrong?

Each paint company offers a gazillion hues as standard offerings, let alone mixing any colour you want. Mind you, the human eye can differentiate only about 150 hues.

Each hue has a gazillion tints, shades, tones and undertones.
I’ll repeat that.
Each hue has a gazillion tints, shades, tones and undertones.
That is scary.

To some extent hues, tints, shades and tones are a matter of personal preference.  The paint companies have colour cards which show pretty combinations of colours and they can help. 

But if you truly invested in your home, you will want more than the standard cards. As nice as they are, you want more - to match to upholstery, furniture, or re-create a room in a magazine. You want your own combination of colours, not the standard colour card.

If you mix colours, the process is of trial & error rather than science. You mix, you see how it looks, you mix again. And again. It can be a long frustrating process.

But if you understand colour – the tints/shades and the tones, you can reduce the trial and error by eliminating those that don’t work in harmony with the colour scheme. Less remaining options means more effective trial & error.

Enter the colour expert

A colour consultant can help you appreciate unusual combinations as well as take you back to basics. They will see possibilities you may miss. That’s what an expert does. Nothing earth shattering so far.

The real value which a colour consultant will add is more than just advising on pretty combinations. They will reduce your trial & error because they know which variations of the hues will work with your room, it's aspect and other colours around it.  They get you to the best outcome fast. Fast means less frustration and more time for other things. 

Undertones – warm v cool

Specifically, the expert understands undertones. Undertones are critical but they sneak up on you & make everything totally right or totally wrong.

Even if you understand cool & warm and you know your sunny yellow kitchen needs a warm white complement, it's hard. Since each paint company offers say, 20 whites – that’s a lot of variation which the human eye, let alone the mind, will struggle to process.

Undertones are like an X factor. When they are right, things feel right & things work – there is harmony in the room. When they are wrong, you may be uncomfortable but you don’t know why. More importantly, if you change the undertone to the more correct one, you will become more comfortable despite the fact that you made the most subtle of changes.

Paint companies

The paint companies have not thought to market paints in terms of these definitions – they think we are too stupid to understand it or that it is too complex to market the concepts. 

So when you look at the 20 versions of white, they aren’t marked for undertone, let alone tint and shade. Yes, you can ask the colour person behind the counter to look up the components on the computer so you have a better feel of what it comprises. But short of that, there is only trial & error. And more trial and error.

Enter a colour expert.

Because there are 20 versions of white in each paint brand’s standard colour chart. And that’s before you do any mixing.  

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.


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.

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


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.