Friday, September 25, 2009

Plan Ahead

Caught short of modest clothing?

The best way to avoid this is to plan ahead and be prepared. Buying on impulse or in a rush is rarely helpful in the long run.

1. Make a list. Figure out what clothing you're going to need in the coming seasons to fill the holes in your closet array, both the type of garment (shirt?) and the style of garment (dressy?).

2. Be informed. Set up a system to alert you when sales are on in stores that stock modest clothing (see "Bargain Hunters" post).

3. Browse. Search the options for what's on your list and select bargain pieces that will meet those needs in a versatile, practical way.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Applause for the Informal Wedding Dress

This article is not about lowering the tone of your wedding day. It's about a way to circumnavigate the extreme cost of a gorgeous wedding gown and still look gorgeous. have advertised a new category of wedding gowns - the Informal Wedding Dress. Simply put, it's a Formal Gown that's white.

You can view their range here.

Formal (or Prom) dresses are generally cheaper than wedding dresses, so check out your favourite formal outfitter - they may have a white dress that's gorgeous enough to be your wedding gown. Boutique Narelle has reviewed a number of formal/bridal attire stores. You can browse those reviews by clicking on the Bridal and Formal categories on the sidebar.

Visit ModestByDesign's homepage and sign up to receive their special promotions and updates by email. This is a company that frequently offers very generous discounts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Scarfing Around Some More

The Winter Scarf

: You'd like 5 feet of drapey scarf to be more than an ornamental addition to your coat collar, but you can't figure out how to keep from getting it caught in the car door and choking you.

In Scarfing Around, I mentioned my gripe about not being able to control fly-away scarf ends. In that article, I showed how I solved that when the problem is a chiffon scarf. Now let's see how it can be accomplished with a fluffy winter scarf.

The Key is still Scarfing Around
The trailing ends of my outdoor scarf were fixed in this manner.

Lay one end of the scarf on your chest, fling the other end around your neck twice, and you should have just enough length to lay the far end on top of the first one.

Pop your coat on, and twitch the encircling layers to ensure perfect comfort and coverage. I enjoy my daily walk much better when I don't return home with my jaw locked shut by a freezing wind.

Should you encounter a sudden Gulf Stream, there's no need to turn beet-red from the hot air. Pull one end of the scarf out from inside your coat, unwrap one loop from your neck, and let the long end trail down the front of your coat. Or tuck the end into a pocket. Or unwrap the second loop and let the long end trail down your back. While this might render you once more susceptible to car doors, it is easy to reloop around your neck and tuck back into your coat.

My favourite scarf is a tasseled red acrylic, soft to wear, cheerful to look at, and matches my hat and gloves. However, as an unusually cold winter advanced, I could tell it wasn't going to keep me warm enough. I went looking for a cheap alternative -- a knitted one would be too bulky and scratchy. At a local discount shop, I found a rack of tartan polarfleece scarves decorated with a row of cute tassles at each end, but they were significantly thinner than my red one. I moaned to my mother in disappointment.

Smart woman that she is, she suggested that I buy two and sew them together. We checked the price tag: Buy 1=$4. Buy 2=$7. Nearly half the price of my red one. So I bought two, stitched the long edges together, turned it inside out, and now I have cosy and convenient twin layers and no-one can tell they were born separately.

A distortion in the polarfleece preventing the ends being level didn't matter because nobody sees the ends when I'm wearing the scarf, and even if they could see them, they'd probably only notice the mass of tassles.

That's my fashion tip of the day: You can get away with a lot if you don't tell anybody!

More scarf tips coming soon.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Cheering Up A Black Monday

Carrying Off a Clothing Crisis with Aplomb

We all find ourselves upon occasion with an unexpected wardrobe crisis when our usual garb is AWOL or unwearable. This may be due to lost luggage, a sudden change in the weather, laundry facilities out of reach or out of order, physical interference such as a broken arm or leg, or simple exhaustion or unwellness making certain styles uncomfortable.

I had one of these recently, forcing me for a few chilly days to work with 2 summer-weight dresses instead of my usual cosy winter skirts. I've taken photographs of the second outfit I came up with to demonstrate two things:

1) It helps to be flexible.
2) It helps to be creative.

I've been having quite a fling with scarves, as Boutique Narelle posts will be showing. The key to making this outfit happen was a narrow drape of melon-coloured stretch-lace. But I started with just a dress.

Black with a large rose print, I love the fit and feel of a much-complimented American design I found at a recycled clothing shop for NZ$8. The dress is cut in the princess style with latticed back ties, a scoop neck, and short sleeves. However, black doesn't do anything for my colouring and certainly was no help to me on a gloomy, stormy Monday in the middle of winter.

You'll need to understand a couple of things. For the past decade I've worked to create a tonal wardrobe. I liked my outfits to be mostly one colour, preferably accented with a lighter or darker shade of the same colour. I never mixed more than two colours. Also, before I went to an Image Consultant in April 2009 to have my colours done, I liked wearing black after a lifetime of being told I shouldn't. I liked its simplicity and smartness, and that I could pair any other colour with it. I liked that I could always find a black garment in the shops. I didn't realize black emphasizes my cool-toned skin and hair, making me look even chillier.

Having an image consultant instruct me in the art of colour was a life-changer. Since then I've had so much fun getting dressed each morning, making my old colour palette still work for me! I've learned that part of the art to looking your best is to neutralize your complexion by wearing opposite tones. If you have yellow-toned skin, wear cool colours. If you have blue-toned skin, wear warm colours. There's a bit more to it than that, but that's a good base to start from.

But back to my closet crisis. With my new colour mentality, I figured two things the black dress had going for it were the mix of colours in the floral print, and the perfect fit which meant it wouldn't create pokes and puckers under additional layers.

Passing over a black poloneck, I chose a sage green knit t-shirt to go over the dress, but sage green is almost as bad on me as black is. No life. Distinctly blue-toned. I had previously supposed the best colour blend with this dress was red, so the melon scarf wasn't an obvious choice, but I knew it was a colour that suited my Spring complexion, and to my surprise, it's what brought the outfit to life.

Here's a close-up of the black print.

Making sure the ends were even, I looped the scarf just once so it sat close under my chin, catching those drafts before they reached my neck but still showing a little bit of green.

The last layer was a dark red fleece jacket, zipped to just under the scarf's half-knot. I felt comfortable and happy, and set out on a suddenly brighter week.

Closet Tip: Still cold? Layers are the key, especially underneath where they're close to your skin. Try wearing two camisoles and/or two petticoats.

Sewing Tip: The stretch knit lace was purchased from Spotlight at $3/m, with 155cm width and neat, attractive selvedges. I cut 28cm off the length, doubled it over with wrong sides together, and sewed a 7mm triple-stitched seam (my machine doesn't handle overlocking well) down the long edge only, creating a tube. I turned the tube right side out and top-stitched 10mm of the very end of the seam allowance to make sure the open ends of the tube looked tidy.

I hope this small tale gives you the confidence to be flexible and creative next time you have a sudden wardrobe crisis, and may you find it makes your day brighter!
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