Let's mix things up by adding a bit of embroidery, chiffon, leather, or tweed to everyday cotton tees...
In the coldest months, we typically wear our darkest colors--charcoal gray, navy, black, & maroon. Our summer colors are stashed in the back of the closet. But I don't let winter weather get me down--I put on my sky-blue summer shirts...
I wear white year round :-)
I wear a lot of button-downs--especially for work--but I think any summer shirt will work.
I think colors are lightening up for this winter in general; here are a few examples:
What's your favorite color to wear in the winter?
About a year ago, I realized GAP gives different discounts to different customers. I'd picked out something from their website & had a 30% off discount code across the top banner of the page. But when I called up the GAP site on a different computer, a 40% off discount banner appeared. The moment I logged into my account on the site, the discount reverted to 30% again.
Why would GAP offer me, a loyal customer, only 30% off but offer a stranger 40% off? Here are a couple possible reasons:
1. I return 90% of what I buy there. I might actually be their worst customer.
2. They already have me; they want to attract a new customer.
No matter what the reason, I think it's unfair to offer different discounts, but I also think personalized pricing, personalized sizing, personalized shopping will soon become commonplace.
I've recently come across two websites that will customize clothing to your specifications...
We have personal trainers, personalized interior designers, & image consultants. An image consultant will assess what you have & then help you assemble a wardrobe to help you achieve your career or personal goals.
Several stores also offer personal stylists or live chat--have you ever used the service?
The other day I received an email offering me a personal concierge through one of the online stores where I shop:
I predict we'll be receiving more emails of this type.
The bottom line
Our eyes are bigger than our stomachs: I'm not the only one returning 90% of what I buy--especially online. Returns flood most stores & result in huge losses for most retailers (more on this topic in this article from New York Daily News here). But would you return something that someone personally helped you pick out? And items customized to your size & style are rarely returnable. In short, personalizing saves companies money.
Because I'm a bit of a whimsical shopper, I like the option to return what I buy. I've also discovered that the more trouble I put into customizing a piece, often the less likely I am to wear it. I also like being anonymous by shopping online & returning through the mail. Although I appreciate the trend, I'll be trying to steer clear of personalization.
What about you? Have you ever worked with a stylist or had something personalized for you?
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A trend in skirt shapes includes what I'm calling the put-your-hand-on-my-knee skirt, an asymmetrical wrap style that plays up one exposed knee. Be looking for them at this year's holiday parties...
Holiday & seasonal tees for men, women, babies, & kids
For little ones...
Owl necklaces make lovely gifts for teachers...
For babies, kids, & teens...
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You're standing in a field in the middle of winter wearing a flowing dress & heels. You're waiting for a train in a small station Europe carrying your fine leather weekender bag. You're playing your violin on the street with a troupe of musicians; you're wearing a lace mini-dress. Surely these are weekly occurrences for you--or so the fashion catalogs imply.
When you see clothing modeled on beautiful women in glamorous situations, are you compelled to click "buy now"?
Do you relate to the women or buy clothes based on your most glamorous vision of what you could be?
Can You Spot...?
Can you spot what's wrong with this beautiful photo from the cover of the latest Anthropologie catalog?
Answer: Does it seem odd to you that the women in this photo are dressed in summery lightweight clothes while the accordion player is in a heavy wool sweater & pea coat?
Fiction vs. reality: The Empress's New Clothes
The advertising industry is brilliantly creative, & we don't even expect the images to be realistic. We assume the scene is staged, & the photo of the model may be photoshopped. It seems photoshopping a model's photo would be false advertising, & yet we're not buying the model; we're buying her clothes--or are we?
The ultimate example of the Empress's New Clothes in my opinion is swimwear & lingerie modeling. The garment itself & the amount of cloth are negligible--mostly we're seeing just the model's body & skin--she's nearly naked.
My students point out to me that young women are heavily influenced by the thinness of the models. The models serve as role models of beauty that lead girls & women to see themselves as fat & imperfect. Eating disorders & a desire for plastic surgery have been the result as we strive for an unhealthy body size & flawless features.
The movement toward using real people as models
Several stores have run campaigns using real people as models. American Eagle Outfitters has received perhaps the most attention for its #AerieReal campaign featuring real, unphotoshopped girls in Aerie lingerie & swimwear. I posted a paper by 19-year-old Erica Aguilar on this topic here.
Many stores like ModCloth, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, & Nordstrom also welcome real shoppers to upload into the reviews photos of themselves wearing the clothes--either from the dressing room or from home. GAP, Boden, & other stores share photos from bloggers wearing their clothes. Title 9 has always used real women to model their clothes.
Are real people a better choice?
If you ever browse through the shoes at Zappos or 6 pm.com, you've probably at one point met April & Hannah, the models in the videos for each shoe. The fact that they model every shoe makes you wonder if the whole operation is made up of just April, Hannah, & a couple warehouse guys, but we know better, right?
Anyway, while very nice & pretty, April & Hannah are fairly average girls; they do not appear to me to be professional models. They walk around gracefully in the shoes & tell you the shoes' best assets, but they are not the types that strut down a runway with the wind in their hair like the models in the videos at White House Black Market.
While the videos really do help you to know what the shoes are like before you buy them, sometimes after I click on the video, I no longer want to buy the shoes. Some of the mystique is gone, the image I'd imagined of myself in the shoes.
To me, the answer is that we ditch the models altogether.
I've bought clothes online at times based on a glamorous display, based on how they looked on a model, & based on how they looked on a real person. Sometimes these clothes have worked out for me, & sometimes they haven't. Sometimes I've bought something because I've admired how a blogger or a friend looks in it--those clothes are often the least likely to suit me. We bring so much of our personality to how we dress; an outfit might look perfect on someone else, but that doesn't mean it'll look right on me.
When I look at clothes on a dress mannequin, I can still imagine myself wearing them for everyday use or for an event.
Some catalogs like NorthStyle & Sierra Trading Post routinely display their apparel on dress mannequins rather than on people. Some stores like Sahali hang the clothes on a clothes line. When we surf almost any store online, we see flat images of each clothing item, most not shown on a model. When we go out shopping, clothes are hanging on rounders & racks; even in shop windows, they're displayed on dress mannequins. On a walk through the mall today, I noticed the black mini-dress featured in the photo at the beginning of this post displayed on a dress mannequin in the Anthropologie window--with a fuzzy coat over it, I might add :-)
We don't need to be influenced by stick-thin, photoshopped models with airbrushed skin. We don't need a catalog or magazine to create an imaginary scene in which we picture ourselves making a grand entrance. While I enjoy the inspiration of seeing clothes put together in new ways, I don't need to see them on a woman in a castle. For the most part, I can conjure up my own everyday scene where I'll be wearing the style.
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Top 10 Fashion Rules (for women)
"You're a stone cold fox"
--Trip Fontaine in Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides
Quite a few foxes are running about, sometimes in glasses, sometimes without. While character sweaters are not new, they seem to me playful & festive.
Here's a photo of my elegant friend & her husband from just last weekend :-)
Have you had a friend whose style you've always admired?
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