The Romance of Cloths ~ Part I

Our tastes in clothing are hard to gauge sometimes–we all like to think we are very stylish and unique, but the truth is many of us are slaves to the whims of fashion! Think of how you have sometimes worn shoes that are uncomfortable, because a particular style is popular (stilettos or platforms, anyone?), or worn a color you don’t like or that is not terribly flattering on you because it’s part of all the collections, like cotton-candy pink or olive drab or day-glo magenta. It’s fun to experiment with your personal style, but finding a way to make the current fashions uniquely yours is sometimes a challenge, despite what the fashion magazines might say. In this article we’re going to explore what it means to add some romantic touches to your style of dress, and that means “romance” how YOU define it, not just the rose-and-ruffles school of long skirts and frilly blouses. We’ll look at what works for different body types, what colors scream “sexy,” and how to choose accessories that don’t overpower your look.

Flirting with Fashion

At the moment, the pages of Vogue tell us the current style for day and evening is lush and lavish and romantic and full of details, mixing patterns and textures and shapes for a playful, almost Byzantine look. But what is you like a simpler look? What if those cropped pants with high heels look silly on you? What if the paisley velvet jacket covered with rhinestone brooches over a tight tweed miniskirt make you feel a bit too self-conscious? Contemporary fashion is pretty postmodern in its influences–that is, it’s a pastiche of many styles and influences from previous eras. One interesting trend in recent years is the idea that there is no one way to do anything, such as hemline length or jacket silhouette–designer collections reflect a variety of approaches, for women who like their clothing classic and functional, or glamourous and exotic. But one thing we’ve seen a lot of, every year for the last decade and a half, is a return to romance.

The floral prints and ruffles of Dolce and Gabbana, the rich silk and velvet textures of Karen Millen, Ralph Lauren’s feminine “English country weekend” garb, Marc Jacobs and his Bohemian, sexy fabrics and shapes. But what if you’re not built like a fashion model? Heck, let’s admit it, very few women are six feet tall and a size four (or smaller). If you’re like me, you love to look at the amazing photography in these magazines and then fantasize about being tall and slender with high cheekbones and perfect skin. But you also love the clothes and want to figure out to achieve these sumptuous looks. The key to looking like yourself, but also looking unique, is to only borrow what works from the dictates of fashion–and that means what works for you.

Although some us experiment with our clothing and wear lots of different styles, most of stick with a few tried-and-true looks that fit our body type, lifestyle and budgets. Have you ever seen a woman trying to “pull off” a fashion trend that is simply wrong for her? Have you ever wondered if you’re one of those women? It’s one thing to be nervous about a look that’s a bit more adventurous than what you’re used to, but it’s quite another to simply feel uncomfortable. Only you know what your comfort zone is, and this may vary according to the situation: that sequined midnight-blue mini might be great for a New Year’s Eve party with friends, but for a first date, might make you feel like you’re, well, trying a bit too hard. A lacy camisole and long ruffled skirt is fine for a beach party or brunch date, but too casual for a dinner party. That classy grey pinstripe suit might look very stylish at the office, but for a cocktail party might make you look like you’ve just left a business meeting.

But wait–what if you actually did just leave a business meeting and have a cocktail party to attend? There’s no reason to fret too long over this situation. Be flexible and creative. One solution is to wear a demure silk camisole under your blouse and then just remove the blouse and wear your jacket over the camisole (or leave the jacket off) for the party. Or if pairing underwear with a suit would feel inappropriate and Seinfeldian to you, then wearing a nice knit t-shirt in a feminine color would also work, and you could add a colorful scarf or interesting piece of jewelry to it. For black, grey or charcoal suits, try a shirt underneath in a shade of rose, lavender, or pale green–or, a black silk satin tank or blouse with a bold piece of silver jewelry (a pendant on a black ribbon choker, or a wide wrist bangle) for a sexy look. If the suit is khaki or brown, wear peach, ivory or pale green. Navy blue can be made to seem more feminine if you pair it with ivory, pale yellow, peach, spring green, medium rose or soft orange–but pale pink might look kind of preppy.


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