Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Fashion, sort of

I am not an expert on fashion. One look at me could tell you that. I buy classic styles, preferably black, and then I live in them. An ordinary day finds me in straight jeans, black top, pearls, and flat shoes. To dress up, I wear a black dress or two-piece outfit and black flats. I am fond of streamlining my wardrobe so that my pieces can be mixed and matched. Black lets me do that. I have elegant, lacy black sweaters that let me dress up an outfit quickly without appearing too stiff or formal. Black on black, dressed up with lacy black.

My friends have tried to help me overcome my addiction to black.

One of my them offered: "I had a black stage. I grew out of it."

Another one said: "You always look like you are heading to a funeral."

Honestly, I do try on other colors when I'm shopping. What frequently happens to me is that none of them seems to be quite right. Then I put on the black option. Viola. Instant style. Instant slimming. Instant flexibility. Of course, I have things at home that would "go with it." No surprise there.

As one of my other friends, who also loves black, said, "I need a flashlight to see into my closet."

Flashlights aside, black is hard to beat for elegance and style. But I realize it isn't the best choice for everyone. Each woman should wear her best colors, whatever they are. You can find out what your best colors are by taking stacks of different shades of t-shirts and laying them across your chest in front of a mirror. Then you can try on the ones that seem to be more attractive -- is there one that seems to be the best? That shade is likely one that will make your complexion glow. You might be enhanced by pinks, blues, greens, earth tones, or pastels. When you shop, stick with that color family. This will enable you to create more outfits with individual pieces in your wardrobe.

This is the first reason why I became attached to black. No matter where I buy it, a black piece will coordinate with the other pieces of my wardrobe. I never worry about matching black to black. Even though there are differences, brownish blacks go just fine with midnight blacks and blue blacks. They are so close to one another that one hardly notices the subtle change in hue.

I lean toward body-skimming styles; straight skirts, close-fitting jackets, turtlenecks, straight-legged pants. I am charmed by retro-styles that offer a little elegance from days gone by, and I live by the maxim that a woman should not reveal too much of herself to the world.

This hasn't been the trend of fashion, in general, in recent years. Instead, we have been serenaded with the attractions of wide-legged pants, bright colors in large floral patterns and vivid stripes, flowing capes, swishy skirts, short-shorts, mini-skirts, and combinations of hues that almost clash. Most of the clothes I tried on either clung to my shape so that they looked like they were several sizes too small, or alternately fit like a sack, having been cut and sewn into nearly a rectangular shape. I had begun to wonder if popular clothes would ever be designed to fit a woman's body again.

Until now.

Last week, I visited a Talbot's store with my mother-in-law. We were offered a new fall catalog. When I glanced through it's pages, I was amazed. Here at last were clothes made to fit a woman's body. Here were classic black dresses, retro blouses with rounded collars, close-fitting jackets, pearls, creamy silks and flowing fabrics, straight pants that slimmed, elegant tiny polka dots, dainty plaids, plentiful lace, shoes that were made for walking pretty. Not only in black, but in beautiful burgundy, powder blue, rose, pale yellow, baby pinks, and shades of cream. I couldn't believe what I was seeing. I just stared and stared at the pictures. Here was a major change in fashion.

Think of the elegance of Jackie Kennedy or Grace Kelly. Think of glamourous stars from the 40's and 50's in their shapely suits and evening dresses. That's what it reminded me of.

On other recent trips, I found the same trend in the Liz Claiborne lines at Belk's, Macy's, and JC Penney's . Other companies like Jones New York and Land's End are headed in the same direction.

This, my dear readers, will be a Season of Fashion, such as we have not seen for a long, long time. Save your pennies, and plan to go shopping. There will be sales, too, for the frugal shopper in this slim economy. Watch and wait. The clothes you find will be ones you can wear for the next five years. Although you cannot see many of these offerings yet on the web or in the stores, they will arrive in a month.

You can safely expect to be charmed and inspired.

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