Friday, April 04, 2008

The Fashion Police Have Arrived

Now, personally I think Christie’s brand of cute hats and light jackets is totally stylish. And I’ve never seen Jana show up looking anything less than perfectly put together. But, from the posts and comments this week, I got the impression some of you were crying out for some fashion tips. Well… ask and ye shall receive. ;)

Okay, here are 5 of the top fashion rules that I live by:

1. The element of surprise.
If you watch any sort of fashion shows, you’ll notice that designers always throw at least one really off the wall outfit into their collection in order to surprise and shock their audience. While I certainly don’t walk around wearing pants made of tin foil or feathered headdresses, I do try to apply the same basic idea to my everyday wardrobe. A little note of the unexpected makes any outfit more interesting. One of my favorite weekend outfits this year is jeans and a black long-sleeve T-shirt. Pretty basic, right? So, I fold the cuffs of the jeans up in a sort of retro fifties style and wear it with a pair of shiny, fire engine red, patent leather Mary Jane heels. Just a little twist. Another look I did this winter was army green cargos, white sweater, pink jacket. Pretty standard stuff. But, I funked it up a little with this really inexpensive light, white shawl I found, knotting it around my neck like a loose scarf. Warm and fun! If you can find one element or accessory that is a little different or unexpected, it really helps to take the outfit up a notch.

2. Casual is cool.
This is a neat little trick. With any outfit I wear, I always make sure there is one element that’s just a little too causal for all the rest. It gives the outfit that air of non-fussiness and “What, this old thing? I just threw it on.” A fitted jacket, blouse, high heels, gold jewelry, but worn with faded jeans. A nice sweater and slacks over a pair of converse sneakers. Pinstriped skirt, heels, cropped jacket over a plain white T-shirt. Dressing just one element down gives the outfit a little more comfortable feel to it. Which brings me to…

3. Comfort is key.
If you’re not comfortable in your clothes, you will not look good. Period. It doesn’t matter how cute it looked on the rack, you’ve got to love wearing it. Myself, I am not a big fan of the business look. Never have been. Even when I worked in an office, I hated wearing the dreaded lady suit. So, I found ways around it that fit my style better. Springy dresses, slacks and sweaters, skirts and cute tops. Even though some of my female colleagues looked totally high powered hot in the suits, it wasn’t ‘me’. So, I think you really have to make sure you feel comfortable in any outfit, regardless of how in or trendy the look is. If you feel silly, you will look silly.

4. Fit your body.
This is one that’s always tough for me – fitting the body I have and not the one I wish I had. There are so many cute styles out there, but not every one will work for every body type. Like Jana pointed out - baby doll tops and big boobs are not a good combo. One problem I have is that, being 5’2”, I have these short legs that make me completely jealous of girls like Kathy and Jana. So, I have a really tough time finding dresses and skirts that a) fit me at the right length and b) don’t make me look like someone chopped off half my leg. So, one thing I do is wear dark, opaque leggings under dresses. In addition to being slimming, the dark color gives the illusion of length, especially if I make sure the leggings end a few inches above my ankle and pair them with some high heels. My favorite cocktail outfit is this very light, clingy, silk, champagne dress over black, lace edged leggings and black heels. Different than your average little black dress, and it works for my shape. So, try to work with the body type you have instead of trying to fit your body into styles that don’t flatter you.

Okay, one last tip. And, I’ll warn you, this one is totally specific, not for the feint of heart and deals with a personal fashion pet peeve of mine…

5. Denim Jeans.
A great pair of jeans can make your outfit. The wrong pair can ruin it. Here’s the harsh truth about jeans: Skinny jeans do not look good on anyone over the age of twelve. Unless you’re Kate Moss, they will not flatter your body type. Yes, they look adorable on middles schoolers, but if you have any sort of hips, they will look HUGE in skinny jeans. Trust me the name is deceptive. Skinny jeans never made anyone look skinnier. Do not wear tapered leg jeans. Ever. Please, I beg of you. If the jeans taper at the end, it accentuates where they started… your hips. Unless pear is the shape you’re going for, skip them. And beware of the so called ‘straight leg’ jeans. If you really are built straight from waist to ankle, they may look good on you. But, if you have hips and a waist, they will not look straight once they are on. They will cling to the hips, pooch out at the waist, and generally give you that same tapered look at the ankles. The most universally flattering style I’ve found is the boot cut. The slight flare at the end helps to balance out the slight natural flare of a woman’s hips, yet they’re generally slim enough through the leg to not add layers of bulky fabric like a loose fit or carpenter’s fit would. But, make sure they are the right length – too short and you lose the flare, too long and you’ve got that gangly bare ankle look going on. I usually try to buy mine so that the hem skims the floor. And be very careful about the rise! Low rise jeans will make you have plumbers butt, plain and simple. Unless you just got a tramp stamp tattoo on your lower back that you’re dying to show off, stay away from the low rise. Conversely, if the waist of your jeans hits anywhere north of your belly button, you are in danger of looking like you should be shuffling to the early bird senior’s special. Try to find something in between, a waistband that tucks in slightly from the hip line, especially for those of us with that hourglass figure.

Okay, that’s my top five. Anyone else have some fun tips they want to share? Questions for Sergeant Gemma of the fashion police?

~Trigger Happy Halliday


Terri Osburn said...

Great advice! Finding mid-rise boot-cut jeans is one of the best things I ever did. My sister (who got all the behind in the family) insists on remaining stuck in the 80s wearing the tapered jean. I've tried my best to convince her to change but she won't budge. The poor thing.

Love the idea of one casual item. I'd never thought of that. I'm not the most trendy person but I've seen enough "What Not to Wear" to know how to fit my body. Thank goodness for some of these shows!

Gemma Halliday said...

I love What Not to Wear! It’s so fun to watch the transformations on that show. My only beef with them is that they’re very ‘east coast’ in their ideas of what is in. California has a whole different feel than their fashion. But a lot of their advice about shape is really, really good.

My sympathies on your sister. I think a lot of people get stuck in one style they think looked good on them in high school – so it must still now, right? Ahn… not so much.


Kathy Bacus said...

Sergeant Gemma,

I am jewelry and accessory challenged. What are, say, the top five 'Must Have' items of jewelry or accessories that will go with almost anything and give me the most bang for my fashion buck?

~Bullet Hole who no longer can count a badge, nametag, tie clips and collar pins as accessories~

Keri Ford said...

Hehee, I have a pair of candy-apple red, pointy-toe, patent high-heels. I LOVE them. One of my husband’s friends asked me which Barbie doll I ripped them off of. I still love them and wear them when I can.

my personal biggie is: Never let it all hang out at once.I’d forgot about this one and then got to thinking about a character who lives by this motto, remembered the fashion here, had one of those middle of the night things. Anyway, never let it all hang out at once. Unless, you know, you’re on the beach or poolside or working out or something of the like. Pick one: cleavage, belly, or leg. I would recommend your best asset to hang out, too.

I agree twenty times over with Gemma’s thoughts, particularly on the jeans. But I want to add one more. Beware of the “leaning against glass” fit. I don’t know how, but there are jeans out there that give the appearance you are leaning against a piece of glass. Even with my *ahem* healthy backside, I still find jeans that flatten me down. Think of jean buying as bra shopping. You want something to lift and make perky, right? Use the same thought process for back there.

-keri *who is getting a nibble here and there on her queries, and beginning to think cyber ate some of her unanswered ones, because it’s been a whole week with no response. :O)

Keri Ford said...

Terrio my sister is the same way. Jeans up to her ribcage, I tell you. tappered leg, all of it. she does it because she's cheap and thinks, these are still in good shape!

Christie Craig said...

Okay Gemma,

I'm printing these out and taking them shopping with me.

You are a dream.

Crime Scene Christie

Terri Osburn said...

Oh, Keri, those shoes sound awesome. I do believe I'm going to hunt up a pair of hot red heels to wear to the awards at Nationals. Due to bad knees, I've been ordered by my doctor NOT to wear heels but one night won't hurt anything, right? Well, except my knees...

Yes, her waistband comes up to her neck and then she wears all her clothes three sizes too big. She used to have an hourglass shape but has put on a *bit* of weight now. Basically, she was the skinny one and I was the smart one. Now, I'm the smart AND skinny one. LOL! I can die happy.

Jana DeLeon said...

I LOVE these - and do a lot of them!!!! I so agree with you on the jeans discussion, and I guess since I haven't got a tramp stamp (yet) I'll stick with high-waisted. :)

I was thinking of "tasty" - how would that look?????

Beth said...

Great tips.
Can I add one? It's really more of a pet peeve, living in The OC I see a lot of this-
Dress YOUR age, not your daughter's. It's ok to funk it up a bit with one or 2 of her items but don't look like you raided her closet.

Gemma Halliday said...

Okay, accessories….

I love funky necklaces. They don’t have to be expensive, but a big silver or beaded necklace really brings the eye up to your face. I find a lot of cute ones at Macy’s and if you hit a clearance day, they’re a really inexpensive way to add some flash to an outfit. (Just make sure your earrings and necklaces are not too matchy-matchy.)

Shoes! (Of course.) A cute pair of shoes makes an outfit for me. I prefer heels (I’m a shortie.) but if you don’t do heels well, they have a lot of really cute flats out now, too. I love the little ballet flats and even some of the upscale style flip flops are really fun for summer.

In the winter, I’m all about the scarves. Long ones are great, giving you a really long, lean line – I do these in darker, fall colors. Shorts ones, I tend to go with pales tones – pink, baby blue – and wrap them close to kind of frame my face.

Belts are cool too, they add a little style to an ordinary pair of pants. I personally love either the super slim ones to the big chunky black one with metal embellishment that almost have a biker chick feel to them.


Gemma Halliday said...

Keri - Yes! I am not a fan of the 'on display' look. Hints of cleavage and leg are great, but the micro-mini with the tube top? Only if you're a working girl.


Gemma Halliday said...

I totally agree, Beth! I think you can definitely look current without looking twelve. I’ll be honest, there are some styles I just won't wear because I’m afraid someone will a) mistake me for a high schooler or b) will think I’m pathetic for trying to look like a high schooler.


Gemma Halliday said...

Tasty DeLeon. I think you have an alias now. ;)


Keri Ford said...

Terrio, me and my sister were the other way around! I was thin, she was heavier (not chunky, but bigger than me). I graduated high school, looked in the mirror one day and was like, ‘what is that back there and where did it come from?’ this was a good thing, mind you, because I used to resemble a 4X4 board. Sister on the other hand, dropped weight (except for her chest, darn it. I didn’t really get any of those) but the clothes she wears mostly make her look bigger.

And about the shoes, think of it this way, they might damage your knees, but do GREAT work for your calves! It's a trade-off.

Anonymous said...

Love the suggestions, Gemma! Now, I have an idea. I think you ought to do a workshop at national next year called What Not To Wear for Authors and offer fashion advice for authors who are about to do a lot of PR, whether booksigning, TV appearances, etc.


Terri Osburn said...

Keri - lucky for me, I got all the up top stuff. And I'll take that over the junk in the trunk anyday. Not that I'd pass up looking like J Lo.

That's the thing about the heels - makes my calves look so much better. Flats just don't have that same power, ya know? LOL!

I'll second Faye's idea. I'd take that workshop and I don't have any PR to do.

Anonymous said...

What a great list!!!

Gemma Halliday said...

Great idea, Faye! That would be so fun. Hmm... wheels turning...


Unknown said...

Finding the mid-rise boot cut jean is hard for me. But the mid-rise fit me about at my waist. I am also very short and it is very hard to find things that fit right.

Gemma Halliday said...

I feel your pain, Virginia. My favs are the Calvin Kleins. But, surprisingly, if you want something less pricey Mervyn's Hillard & Hansen brand has some nice shapes, too.


Kathy Bacus said...

Thanks, Gemma! This is just what I'm looking for.

I can't wait to go shopping!

Get tax rebate. Will shop!

~Bullet Hole~

Anonymous said...

Okay, you have so much fashion sense I'm just stunned. The only thing I screamed, "Oh, I do that!" is on the jeans one. Darker jeans are flattering and boot cut. It's sexy/hot. And that's about ALL I wear.

I need to make more of an effort. *sigh* I usually only get inspired to look cute (somewhat) for conferences :)

Gemma Halliday said...

Don't feel bad, Shelli, I do most of my shopping around conference time, too. I figure, it's a business expense, and, well, kinda go wild with my credit cards. :)

And, YES, dark jeans are the way to go! Not only more slimming, but also a lot more current than the light look.