Today, we’re working with our reader K.
K admits to a recent realization of having lost her way, style-wise. She wears jeans every day and feels that she has become too casual. She says that there is no clear line between her work clothes, casual clothes and “dressy” clothes. Now, K is determined to create a wardrobe that suits her shape, personality and lifestyle.
THE BIG PICTURE:
I just love how quirky, colorful, feminine, and just plain happy K’s vision board is. She is not afraid of color or print; if there is one thing she stays away from, it’s blandness. Every single article on this board is embellished in some way; every item has personality. I can see how K doesn’t feel right in a uniform of jeans! There is no way that it could ever do her justice. K’s choice of colors reflects both the cheerful nature of her vision board, and a certain level of confidence. Often women prefer to rely mostly on neutrals; and while K includes some neutral colors here, they are always mixed with other, exuberant colors, prints, and detail.
- I’ve never met K in person, but somehow I think she’s the kind of woman I’d’ love to go to brunch with, and spend a fun couple of hours enjoying food, mimosas and engaging conversation. In fact, the whole feel of her vision board is charming and engaging. The energy of this vision board somehow reminds me of Meg Ryan’s character in the lovely film French Kiss. She plays a girl who is smart and sassy, and not afraid to go after what she wants. Her life goes completely topsy-turvy in a matter of days, but she keeps rolling with the punches. In the end, she learns to embrace a new life, new country, and new love, all the while maintaining her easy, optimistic charm.
- It’s important to note that, while I’m using adjectives like charming and quirky, I wouldn’t describe K’s vision board as particularly bohemian or artistic in feel. It does have touches of whimsy and retro / vintage (especially in her choices of footwear and prints), but that’s not all that her style is about.To me, these touches speak of a sunny, open-hearted kind of femininity that has the ability to warm everything and everyone in its presence.
- It’s obvious that K doesn’t shy away from visual impact; it’s apparent in her choice of prints and detail. Her vision board reflects a definite craving, an intent to move away from anything basic, too-casual, or neutral. I love seeing this kind of freedom and openness in a vision board; it definitely shows someone in touch with her intuition and a clarity of purpose.
- The knot motif seems to be very important for K, and it does have special significance. It’s a symbol for connection, togetherness and love; it seems to mesh very well with the warm, generous energy we see in her vision board. The knot is timeless and has a universal appeal: it’s as prevalent in Celtic culture as it is in Japan. As a lover of the knot motif myself, I found this article particularly interesting. On K’s case, the knot is a sign that, with all the sunny, expressive energy in her vision, she also seeks a firm, timeless foundation, and a sense of universal appeal and consistency. Finding the right balance of these two influences is the key to her style.
Let’s take a detailed look at K’s vision board:
- Colors: a variety of colors of predominantly medium value (not too dark or too light), with some neutrals added.
- Shapes: curvy, body-conscious, feminine.
- Textures: mostly smooth with some medium textures, like lace.
- Lines and prints: exuberant, colorful florals and geometrics. Monochromatic garments have ruching, draping and / or texture. Curved lines, circles.
- Details: rich, feminine details: ruching, draping, gathers; waist emphasis; rounded and V-shaped necklines.
Let’s see how K’s vision board relates to her physicality:
- K has a lovely, curvy A-shaped figure. She is also petite and well proportioned.
- The rounded geometrics and the inherent lush softness of K’s figure require garments and fabrics that skim, not cling; draping is excellent here. K should definitely avoid materials that are starched, stiff, thick or heavy. Anything boxy is a huge no-no. Flowing shapes are great, along with fabrics of light to medium weight with a touch of elasticity.
- Because K is petite, proportions are absolutely crucial for her. Lengths that are too short or too long should be avoided; skirts hitting at the knee are best. Since she is A (or pear) shaped, it’s important not to wear tops that are hemmed close to the widest part of her lower hips, both because it will cause a visual distortion of her width, and because it will make her upper body appear disproportionately long (I think the ideal length for her tops is between 1 and 2 inches above where the blue top in her photo is hemmed). I also think that heels (1″ to 2.5″, or 2.5 to 4.5cm) are great for everyday wear, since they are both comfortable and help elongate the body.
- I can see K wearing her selection of dresses and tops quite easily. It’s pretty clear from her vision board that she understands her body shape, and the garments that will show it off best. With separates, it’s a good idea to create more “action” on top (and by that I mean prints, gathers, ruching, and other details, especially around the shoulders), while keeping the bottom separates (skirts and trousers) well fitted, skimming, and free of excessive detail. I will add that anything too busy, bulky or voluminous on top is not a good idea; it’s good to keep the embellishments in proportion to her body size, so anything oversized or excessive is not the best choice for her.
- As I’ve mentioned above, it’s apparent from her vision board that K is eager to leave the bland and boring behind, and to embrace color and prints fully. In practical terms, her goals are different from those of many women who find it easier to stick to basics. In fact, I think it’s important for K to pick the right kind of basics. The commonly accepted advice is to find your basics and build a wardrobe around them, but in K’s case, the colorful, feminine tops and dresses form that basis, whereas the neutral pieces provide the necessary support. The sunny exuberance is front and center, but neutrals are necessary to help that charming quality shine, and to make the wardrobe more practical.
- With this in mind, K’s skirts and trousers need to follow the same guidelines as her tops, in that the fabrics need to be medium in weight and with elasticity and drape. A-line skirts are great, and so are trousers that are slightly flared at the bottom, or falling straight from the hip. She should always fit trousers and skirts around her hips, and have the waist taken in, if necessary. I would get rid of jeans entirely; they are too harsh, tough and constricting for K, both in terms of her body, and the essence of her style. Jeans are either rugged or urban; and while K’s style is contemporary, it’s not about the hard edges. Hers is a different kind of substance. If she does decide to wear jeans, it’s a good idea to find thinner, stretchy jean-imitation fabrics that aren’t as heavy and unyielding as regular, thick jeans. Still, chinos, corduroys and yoga pants are much better.
- In her email to me, K spoke of the need to create a clear line separating her work, leisure, and evening wear. I understand her impulse: often, people who get stuck in a rut of wearing the wrong kind of uniform long to be liberated from it, and to experience the many facets of dressing. But I do believe that style consistency is essential, both in terms of staying true to who you are, and making your wardrobe affordable and practical. I think that K can easily wear her vision board both at work and during her leisure time. For example, she can wear the same top with two different bottoms: a skirt at work, and yoga-style pants or corduroys on the weekend. Shoes and accessories can be changed up to create a similar transformation. The key is making sure that the colorful, detailed tops, dresses and accessories are the mainstay of her wardrobe, whether at work or at home. For evening wear, nothing beats a beautiful dress. The printed blue dress on K’s vision board is a great example of a garment that can be worn at work under a jacket, and then be transformed into an evening outfit with more dramatic makeup and different shoes.
For K, building a wardrobe that reflects her lively, engaging femininity is a sure way to find genuine self expression, showcase her lovely physicality, and in the process, charm everyone in her path!