Monday, April 12, 2010

What's your season? What's your shape?

This post started out as a review of a Palmer/Pletsch DVD, "Looking Good." Watching the DVD sent me on a quest to find my colors. It also got me thinking about where we get our fashion advice from. I'm a huge fan of "What Not to Wear" with Stacy and Clinton. They do an amazing job of cleaning up everyday people. (If it wouldn't be so embarrassing, I'd volunteer for the show in a heartbeat.) As I look at my bookshelves, I see a ton of sewing books next to some beauty and style books that don't get much use (the beauty & style books, that is). I think I've given up in the past. Now that I'm focusing on making flattering garments, I flipped through these books again.

If you've never done some introspection with regards to finding your best, most flattering looks, than this DVD (and accompanying book) might be helpful.  

Looking Good Live DVD

This DVD is pretty basic.  It talks about colors and briefly goes over the gold-silver test.  There are some great examples of sewing pattern pictures where models are best dressed in their colors and those where they aren't.  What cracked me up is 2 McCall's patterns come to mind as blah and those are 2 of the "wrong color" examples she used.  The instructor also goes over the 5 basic body types and a very generic what to wear/not wear.  She then starts talking about visually appealing lines, shoulder pads, and supportive undergarments...and that's when I fell asleep.  Like I said, pretty basic.  One thing she does really well is give you lots of picture examples on real women and models of what to do and what not to do.  I didn't find it helpful enough to guide me in a shopping excursion.  Maybe that's why there is a book to go with the DVD.

I was intrigued by the color analysis, which she only says "get a professional one done."  I've never had one done and will never pay for one.  I did find a reasonably decent color analysis using the 12-season system here.  Basically you are warm or cool, then pick a season and then pick 1 of 3 variations of the season (light, clear, deep).  I'm a clear winter (cool).


Though I've never tried wearing yellows, I will say I tend to wear most of the colors above. I also wear tons of pinks and reds. I've noticed lately that the pinks/reds aren't as flattering on me as I once thought. This color analysis reveals that I have quite a few fabrics in my stash that aren't the best for me and I'll have to be creative in how I use them. Anyway, good to know. I'll keep this info handy next time I start buying fabrics for no apparent reason.

This brings me to what's flattering and how to fill your closet with an interchangeable wardrobe. I'm no fashionista but I can tell what looks crappy. (I choose to ignore that fact when I'm in a mood. Much like when my husbands asks, "Does this go together?" and I respond, "No." He was just confirming that it looked bad but he'll wear it anyway.) I have 2 books on my shelves that just about cover what I need to know.

Dress Your Best by Stacy & Clinton

I like the show and their book is pretty helpful. They cover men's and women's styling. For women they talk about curvy, extra curvy, top heavy, bottom heavy, extra in the middle and straight body types. They further break it down by petite, average and tall. For men they cover tummies, barrel chests, athletic builds, and small frames; again by the 3 height categories. Each body type is dressed in a day, evening and work look. You do have to read the whole book because there are little gems everywhere. TONS of pictures in this book.

The Lucky Shopping Manual

This book is different from other style books because they don't focus solely on body types, just how to make certain style of garments work. What style and length of coat will work with long, straight skirts compared with long, full skirts? This seems like "duh" to some people but I found it very helpful with all the great visuals they use to show why one coat won't work for all garments. They give a great breakdown of what basics you need in each category, including shoes, purses, undergarments and outerwear. For example...

You're totally covered if you have
  • 3 pairs of winter work pants (tropical wool, etc.)
  • 3 pairs of summer work pants
  • 2 pairs of all-season weekend pants
  • 1 pair of lightweight evening pants
If you never wear skirts, add
  • more winter work pants
  • a pair of fun pants
  • more summer work pants
  • a pair of velvet or satin evening pants
Then they demonstrate how to wear the same pair of pants for day or evening, summer or winter, and work or casual (numerous examples). Some nice information about finding the right fit for each particular garment is also included.  In addition, which garments to splurge on and which are okay to bargain shop for.

The only beauty book still on my shelves is by InStyle.  I haven't done too much with this one but I will say my eyebrows are fantastic thanks to this gem of a book.  I get compliments on my eyebrows all the time.  This is basically a DIY salon book.  I really liked the step by step instructions for applying eyeliner and eyeshadow.  This book covers hair, skin, makeup, and body care but nothing about nails.

InStyle Getting Gorgeous

I haven't read all the fashion and beauty books out there but these are a few of my favorites.

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