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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