Friday, July 10, 2009

Tizzies Glamour

Last winter I explored the recesses of an exclusive fashion store, a tiny store in a tiny town that packs a lot of punch. Ladies with deep pockets travel from all over the country to acquire some Tizzies glamour.

Curiously, the shop itself is supremely lacking in glamour, with faded Persian carpets covering a concrete floor, two standard lamps lighting a drafty, curtained changing room with a little blow heater chugging its guts out against the wintry blast from the open door of the shop, whither the client repeatedly tiptoes to view her elegant array in the cheval mirror set where it benefits from natural lighting. No, there's nothing in the appearance of that dim room to suggest that the goods being sold are anything above the ordinary.

But the clothes! Satins, silks, and chiffons, sequined, beaded, and embroidered, feathered and flowered hats in glorious colour and inglorious disarray, a mountain of cloth-draped boxes behind the counter, hats piled on the floor, stacked as high as the dress racks, stacked on top of the dress racks. Those racks are crammed to an alarming point, the hangers threatening to shoot off the pole ends from the pressure. A large sign kindly instructs customers to let staff find what is needed.

I watched Sylvia zoom in on a selection of choices for a client, picking out a range of colours and styles appropriate for the shopper's special occasion. Unerringly, she found hats to match the garments that perfectly suited the client's features, a client who kept repeating, against the insistence of her reflection, that she couldn't wear hats. An ordinary, motherly woman in lace-up boots, wool trousers, and cosy polarfleece was transformed into a vision of charm and beauty.

Along the way, I heard some Helpful Hints for the Mother of the Bride.
  • Wear the hat on a slight sidways tilt. Yes, it looks cute and saucy, but it also means when you're in the reception line, your hat won't pop off every time someone kisses you.
Some hat crowns are designed to collapse for travelling. To pack a non-collapsible hat, turn it upside-down, stuff the crown with items like underwear, and surround the brim with other clothing.
  • Wear natural shade stockings, NOT black. Black seems to shout at the camera, "Notice me!" Ladies say, "But black makes my legs look slimmer". Sylvia says, "That's just not true."
  • Ask for the corsage to be made for your wrist or handbag, not your lapel. Lapel corsages get rather roughed up in the reception line, putting pressure on your gown and encouraging stamens and petals to share their colour with the fabric - boths yours and whoever is hugging you.
Advice for everyone trying on clothing for a special occasion, whether it's off the rack or being made especially for you:WEAR THE UNDER-GARMENTS YOU PLAN TO WEAR ON THE DAY. I forgot this when I went for a fitting of my 21st birthday dress, wearing a comfortable wide-strap sports bra instead of the delicate lace item I planned to wear for the party, which was one that would alter my shape, meaning the seamstress, bless her for her patience, couldn't be sure the shaping she was working into the bodice was going to fit me properly.

What makes a design exclusive? Apparently, skirt loops featuring the designer's logo.

Sylvia sold her client two suits that elongated a short, wide shape whilst retaining a modest neckline, outfits in cheerful colours (not black or navy) for the two London society weddings she was attending.

When the lady arrived in London, she purchased another suit, a Paris design, just because she liked it. The above photographs are from her son's wedding. The day of the second wedding, her daughter's, dawned grey and gloomy, and she decided the Paris suit was a more cheerful colour than the wisteria blue New Zealand ensemble.

Set against a natural wood background, light catches the satin jacquard fabric of the New Zealand suit, light that London didn't have enough of the day of the wedding.

The Paris Suit

I've always wanted to see what makes a "Paris gown" special (apart from its price), and now you can have almost as close an inspection of this 3-piece suit as I enjoyed a few weeks ago. Note the extra details: rows of simple embroidered dots, simple beading around sleeve and neck edges, an embroidered covered button.

For those of us who strive to add the extra touches that make a gown super special, you'll be interested to note that the beading around the neckline isn't perfectly executed...a misplaced bead, a misplaced thread, a misplaced knot can even be found on a Paris gown. What a revelation.

The black hat, which was worn with both outfits, was accidentally left behind in London, but I did get a number of photos of the aqua headpiece, known as a fascinator (see the lead image for this article). These will be featured in a later post. I hope you've enjoyed this spot of glamour, but remember, a smile is the most important thing a woman can put on in the morning.


"A woman whose smile is open and whose expression is glad has a kind of beauty no matter what she wears." Anne Roiphe

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