It's that time of year.
The time that I, and all the women I know, are compulsively clearing out closets in a flurry of dust, garbage bags, and disgust.
Loads are carted off to Goodwill or garage sales. Wardrobes are critically assessed and mercilessly slashed.
I finally got rid of a sweater I'd been very attached to. It was only a few years old.
"Few." HA. Try EIGHT.
"But it wasn't that long ago, it was only my junior year of college..."
This kind of thought sends me running to the bathroom mirror to look for wrinkles around my eyes. Luckily, I'm so pale the sun sends me running for caves, which has left my skin in excellent condition. White, but excellent.
When the dust settles and your closet may as well have one naked hanger drooping drunkenly from the clothes rod, you may ask yourself what exactly you're going to wear from here on out.
Well, I will tell you.
#1: This spring, wear pastels only when they've been very carefully chosen.
I know. Every fashion maven out there is strutting the pastel trend. But it was a dangerous pastel tightrope at the Oscars, proving the ubiquitous point that sometimes pastels bring out your color, and sometimes pastels wash you out and make you look like you're recovering from the flu, or simply aren't there and the dress is standing there on its own.
There is a range in pastels. You don't have to go so pastel it may as well be white. You don't have to look like a baby nursery threw up on you (although nurseries aren't the pastel transgressors they used to be). Take a color you already look good in, and find a pastel rendering of it. Keep the tags on the garment, because lighting in dressing rooms is notoriously bad. Try it on at home in natural light. Pay attention to whether it exacerbates undereye circles. And consider what your skin tone will become in the next few months: will you stay fair? Are you planning on using self tanner? Will you be outdoors a lot?
The Big Red Fashion Tip is this: just add a pastel in your accessories. Purse, shoes, scarf, jacket, cardie, large chunky jewelry, sunglasses.
#2: To Skinny Jean or Not To Skinny Jean: The Problem of Leggings
Here's my general advice. If you need a size Large in leggings, or larger than a size 10 in skinny jeans, don't wear them. I've seen leggings pulled off well by Extra Small's, Small's, and Medium's. Skinny jeans can probably be pulled off by a size 10.
But the buck stops there.
You can, however, try wearing leggings under certain skirts or casual dresses. Just be careful.
The Big Red Fashion Tip is this: you're probably not covering up as much as you think with a long tunic top. Your body is 360 degrees, even if your view isn't. And it's the wrong season to balance the look with large, bulky boots. Take the philosopher's advice, and Know Thyself.
#3: Stretch your moolah
Um, the economy has been terrible, and unless you're one of the wealthy who have actually been able to make money on the whole fiasco, you're probably thinking, "wardrobe? ha! I'm lucky I can afford toilet paper!"
Any ridiculous story of woe you have, I can probably match. But that's neither here nor there.
It IS possible to add garments without restricting yourself to a diet of generic macaroni and cheese for a month.
The Big Red Fashion Tip is this:
~Look for basic items on clearance racks. In the past, I've been complimented on clothes from high end department stores - and on shirts from the Wal-Mart clearance section. I've been complimented on my antique engagement ring, and on my sale earrings I got for two bucks. A few weeks ago, I got several basic shirts in flattering colors from - yes - Wal-Mart clearance racks - for $3 a piece. But I also like looking at the Big Big transitional sales, like the 75% off time at Dillard's. If you're patient, you can get expensive items for the same amount you'd pay for cheap items - like the $85 shoes I got once for $17. A cheap equivalent would've cost me $17, but it was all about timing.
[This hooded half-zip tee is $5 at www.walmart.com]
~Don't invest too heavily in trend items. A few years ago, initial shirts were all the rage, and then *poof!* overnight they vanished.
~Consider alteration. If you have a great item that's still fantastic but you've slimmed down, you may be able to salvage it by spending $10 at your local drycleaner's to get it altered.
~Educate yourself to recognize a good piece when you see it. Spend some time browsing on clothing sites that you can't afford. It'll help train your eye to recognize good design.
~Develop your own sense of style. Take into account your body type, your size, your coloring, and your lifestyle. Google something like "flattering style for a pear shape," etc. Then browse online and pay attention to things you keep returning to as favorites. Learn about your underlying skin tone so that you understand what colors will enhance your natural glow and what colors will make you look haggard and depressed.
**extra help on how to dress your body: http://beautybyella.blogspot.com/2007/11/how-to-dress-your-body.html
~If you can't afford a wardrobe makeover, at least invest in a new haircut: everyone wants a fresh take on spring. And it's a good time, with the shift to hotter weather. Keep in mind special summer events you may be part of (weddings) as well as how your activity level will change, and what humidity does to your hair type!
~Keep a pair of bright shoes or sandals in your closet for the summer. There's a lot available in vibrant yellows, greens, etc. They'll add punch to your basic outfits.
#4: Mix Prints Responsibly
Friends don't let friends mingle too many prints. I'll be honest: this is a difficult thing to get right. My best advice? Have a girlfriend who's an artist.
The Big Red Fashion Tip is this: Limit the number of prints you're wearing/carrying to two; or keep prints in the same color palette.
And remember, Sales Tag Sam mascot says "Keep the print smaller than your hand, and proportionate to your size!"
That's all for now. You can do it! Now go look fabulous.
Oh - and if you need a personal shopper, give me a holla.