17 April 2007

Approaching your outfits thoughtfully, *you*-fully.

The most inventive ensembles celebrities and their stylists come up with are not singularly Missoni, Versace or Caroline Herrera but rather are a melange of high-end and lower-end designer and department store components.

In fact, when I hear a woman whose style I admire like Cate or Natalie respond to the perennial red carpet question - "Who are you wearing?" - with a one-name answer, I'm more than a little crestfallen. I don't want to see a blank stare and listen to a pre-programmed, "It's Ungaro." No, I want to hear, "The dress is Nina Ricci, the shoes are Brian Atwood, the jewels are Kwiat, my clutch is Bottega Veneta and this little jacket is from my own closet - it's vintage and I chose it because its bright color and rosette accents complement the slim lines and simplicity of my neutral gown so perfectly."

The reigning queen of this always-looks-so-her style is Rachel Bilson, pictured above right in a grey crepe Brian Reyes strapless bubble-hemmed shift, red Fendi skinny belt and white Loeffler Randall round-toed pumps and below left in a Theory capelet, Seven jeans and a pair of C-Label two-toned t-straps.


In short, I want some sense of imaginative I-put-this-together-ness, not an automaton Giorgio-picked-this-out-for-me-so-I-wore-it-ness. Just as I expect of my politicians and my girlfriends when it comes to foreign policy and birthday gifts, respectively, I demand of myself - and yes, of others - a certain level of comparative strategic analysis (why is this option better than that option?), thoughtful third-party consideration (how will this be received?), and value consistency (does this choice represent me and what I stand for?).

Everyday women like you and I have just as much right - albeit on a less couture scale - to mix and match this Zara blouse with those vintage Stuart Weitzman slingbacks, this NARS lip stain with that Cover Girl eyeliner and this Mint jacket with that Proenza-Schouler-for-Target skirt. The creativity comes when you look past the price, beyond the label and act like a kid in a toy store again -- go for what first catches your eye.

That being said, there are some basic rules to which you really should adhere when piecing together an outfit, and they are:

1. Dress to flatter your shape

2. Remember your audience

3. Wear what makes you feel most confident, NOT most comfortable

So if a pair of bright yellow trousers, a fuchsia and cobalt wide-striped sweater and Vans slip-ons with a primary-color checkerboard print are the items that collectively make your soft size 10 frame look like a svelte size 6, meet the dress-code of the venue to which you are headed and together, create the look that makes you feel your best, who is this snarky bitch to tell you what you're wearing is wrong?

On the other hand, if you're a thick-in-the-hips lawyer and you walk past me wearing a $200 puckering-with-every-step pencil skirt, scaly-beanbag-arm-exposing shapeless shell from Saks and one-inch Mephisto dress pumps with opaque beige hose, then yes, I am 100% justified in ripping you apart officer-to-enlistee style.

And like bootcamp, where the goal is to break people down only to build them back up, so is my approach to bad DC style. I want you to be that perfect fighter pilot of whom your entire squadron - and let's face it, your entire country - can be proud; I want you to wear those four-inch stilettos you never thought you could; I want you to unearth and share with the world that special talent for accessorizing you never knew you had.

But just as it takes a special kind of soldier to be a JAG Corps officer, it takes a special kind of body to wear skinny trousers and backless sundresses. If that's not you, either make it you through hard work, or, through thoughtful reflection, find your own specialty, hone it, be the best at it and help others to do the same.

It's the American thing to do.

5 comments:

Té la mà Maria said...

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Http: // telamamaria.blogspot.com

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dc girl said...

Jessica Simpson is such a twit.

Liked the post a lot. Those 3 rules are definitely the right 3 to live by.

Anonymous said...

Flatter your figure - 3 words to live by!

Anonymous said...

hmmm... this post sounds like you are trying to be nice. Have these people telling you you're horrible gotten to you? I'm so confused!

Johanna said...

anonymous:

No, I'm not appeasing anyone with this post. I just want to make clear that I don't think only thin girls can look stylish. Hardly.

And, I also wanted to get across that funky, punky, boho chic, etc. aren't "wrong," they're just not me. As long as the clothes fit you well, are appropriate for wherever you're going and make you feel good about yourself, then they aren't wrong. Wearing a tight-ass pair of poly-blend pants, however, *is* wrong.

What may be ugly and juvenile looking to me may be cool and beautiful to someone else. I may not praise their style, but I'm hardly one to criticize it, either.

I'll be in a bitchier element tomorrow, I promise :-)