Two cents on fashion

Some time ago my husband bought me 5 books on fashion style and tips: “The Little Black Book of Style by Nina Garcia”, “The One Hundred by Nina Garcia”, “That Extra Half Inch by Victoria Beckham”, “Fashion Game Book – A World History of 20th Century Fashion by Florence Mueller” and “Influence by Ashley Olsen & Mary-Kate Olsen”. He wants me to understand how the fashion icons and designers define style. I’m not really a fashion guru and do need some guidance at times, so that I’m more style conscious. Basically, it’s not about being fashionable, it’s about being stylish because style is forever, whereas fashion can be faddish.

To let on a little secret, I do have a fashion consultant whom I rely on. Nope, this person doesn’t possess any fashion qualification, nor does the person has any experience in the fashion industry, or has the fashion sense of a style icon. The person is my husband. The answer surprises the hell out of a lot of friends. My husband doesn’t really have any interests in the fashion industry, yet he has an innate sense of what type of clothes fit the physique of a woman. He has given me numerous advices and recommendations on the clothes to buy, and they have turned out to be pretty good buys.

My husband pointed out to me that like so many women out there, I’m drawn to designs/fashion which I like but are seriously not suitable for me or something I can carry off. Most women tend to buy clothes that don’t complement their physique. This year, the harem pants became a fashion item. Truth is, just because it is popular on the catwalk doesn’t mean it is suitable for women in general. Padded jackets were once extremely popular in the 1980’s and 1990’s, but thinking back to what we had worn or seen in pictures, don’t you wince with great embarrassment? For the current harem pants, it takes an extraordinary woman to carry it off. Someone who is really tall and slim, and best paired with fabulous 6-in heels. Yet, I see them on women who just don’t look good in them.

The problem with harem pants is that they give people the impression that you’re trying to hide your big thighs, and if you’re not lanky, it reinforces the impression. Yet women buy these pants because they are comfortable. I had this problem before. I bought clothes that were a little too big on me because they were comfortable. But putting loose clothes on a thin woman actually makes her look skinny, not giving her volume. By wearing fitting clothes and accentuating the waist, this actually gives a thin woman the appearance of a figure. So don’t just think comfort, because it may make you look like a slop or fashion disaster. (Add on note on 18 Nov: you have to pick clothes that highlight your assets and downplay the flaws. If you have stocky legs, try to avoid shorts or leggings. They only show your flaws to the whole world. Instead consider maxi dress.)

Another thing I realize is that women seem to like bling bling or embroidered stuff on their clothes, whether it’s sequins on the top, beads on the dresses or whatever. I was like that once, I bought into those clothes, like birds attracted to shiny objects. I’ve realized that you’ve to be careful with clothes that have blings blings. They should accentuate the cloth, basically make it looks better and they have to be done elegantly. They shouldn’t be added on for the sake of it. Some of these clothes have so much embellishment that they look bullet-proof or armor plated.

My husband has asked me on numerous occasions “what’s with women when they get older? Why do they like to wear curtain prints?” Well, look around you at the older women aged 40’s and above, they do have a penchant for wearing flower prints or some curtain or tablecloth designs. It’s as if menopause has caused the fashion taste to change. I can’t explain it either. I certainly hope that I won’t turn into a curtain-print loving aunty later. Otherwise I will have no end of my husband’s comment, “that looks like my grandma’s tablecloth.” In fact I’ve even seen flower prints that could double up as table clothes on clothes for younger women, Iike those available in Forever 21. When you look at designs from Prada, Chanel, Valentino, Versace or Christian Dior, you’ll realize flower prints are few and far between. These designers know how to make sophisticated clothes.

Now I’m not advocating that we buy designer wear. I don’t even own any pieces from those named above. In fact the only “designer wear” (if you want to call it that) I have are from Alldressesup and Baylene, all local designers. We have to drum into our mind that it’s not the brand that matters, it’s whether the cloth complements your body. An expensive designer cloth can still look frumpy / ill-fitting on a woman if she’s not cut out for it. I like clothes from Mango, they are relatively inexpensive and yet have the chic and elegant look. But you’ve got to pick the right ones. Style, ultimately is not about the price tag, it’s about knowing what looks good on you – self confidence.

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