F is for Fashion

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When you’re shopping, how do you decide which items of clothing to add to your wardrobe and which ones to leave behind?

Let me introduce you to several words beginning with F that can help make those decisions easier.

The first thing to consider is fit. In the words of Stacy London and Clinton Kelly of What Not to Wear fame, “If you don’t have fit, you don’t have style.” The key is to try things on and look in the fitting-room mirror with a critical eye. Do shoulder seams lie in the right place? Are armholes sufficiently high without cutting into your armpits? Does the garment pull across your shoulder blades? Is the length appropriate? Is there puckering or wrinkling anywhere? If you’re unsure about fit, try on another size for comparison. Then, if you’re seriously considering buying an item, leave the dressing room and head for the three-way mirror! Don’t buy anything without first checking the fit from behind!

Fit and flattering go hand in hand. First of all, consider whether or not the garment suits your body type. Does it accentuate your good features and disguise the less desirable ones? For example, I have a boyish figure; straight up and down with very little waist definition and narrow hips. The shape of this tunic gives me a more feminine profile. The three-quarter length sleeves draw the eye away from my waist and the fabric drapes slightly over my mid-section hiding the middle age muffin top that I’ve been battling with lately. The handkerchief hemline and wide band at the bottom give the illusion of girlish hips.

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Knowing which colours flatter you is also important. Back in the 80s when colour draping was all the rage, I met with a Colour Me Beautiful consultant and learned that I was a Spring.  I already knew through trial and error that black or white near my face made me look like a corpse and that gold jewelry was much more flattering on me than silver, but knowing my colours and carrying my little booklet of fabric swatches with me when I shopped was invaluable. It gave me the courage to try colours I’d never worn before and taught me to reject the ones that didn’t look as good on me. Though we were all categorized according to season back then, I understand that in Europe and the Middle East six newer themes have since been introduced: light, deep, warm, soft, clear and cool. In either case, having your colours done is fun and well worth the cost. Keep in mind, however, that nothing is forever set in stone. In recent years, as my hair has taken on more silver highlights, I’ve discovered that I can now wear black. Silver jewelry also looks fine on me now.

While we’re on the topic of colour, it’s a good idea to think about whether or not the garment you’re considering can be worn with other items that are already in your closet. If you have to buy a whole new outfit to go with it, it might not be a wise purchase.

The next F word is feel. Regardless of how well the garment fits and whether the colour suits you, if you don’t find it comfortable or you don’t like the texture of the fabric, you won’t enjoy wearing it. You should also ask yourself whether wearing it will boost your confidence or make you feel self-conscious. The tunic shown above is 95% polyester and 5% spandex. I find the lightweight, slightly stretchy fabric extremely comfortable and I feel great walking into a room in this garment.

It’s also important to think about whether or not the item is functional.  Does it fit your lifestyle? Where will you wear it? For example, I spent most of my career working as an elementary school teacher. My days often involved chalk, poster paint and paper mache, so my working wardrobe needed to be washable. I also had to be able to comfortably crouch down beside a student’s desk to help him with his work. As I was on my feet most of the time and I was the teacher who played on the swings and jumped rope with the kids when I was on outdoor supervision, I definitely needed comfortable shoes. Your needs might be entirely different. Now that I’m retired, I no longer need a working wardrobe, but I still want to look my best wherever I go.

Another important consideration is whether or not the item is affordable. Okay, this one doesn’t start with F, but I figure that the two Fs make up for that! Everyone has a different price point, so again, I can’t tell you what’s right for you. In clothing shopping, as in most other areas of life, I’m quite frugal which does start with F! I invariably head for the sales racks when I enter a shop and I love thrift store shopping, so I seldom pay full price for my clothing. The tunic was purchased late last fall at Laura in South Edmonton Common at a fraction of its original price.

The last F word might seem odd, but I think fun should also be on the list. I agree with fashion icon, Iris Apfel, who said, “I think getting dressed should be a very joyful and creative experience.”