Part 3: Only if you believe it is: Define Designer

I recently started reading ‘The World’s Most Influential Fashion Designers’ by Noel Palomo-Lovinski. An interesting read if you happen upon a copy of it.  Lovinski has the book organized by chapters. The chapters are named after certain styles like artisans, futurists and modernists vs. postmodernists. He designed the book by placing designers within these chapters or categories. Among the designers, Coco Chanel, Christian Dior, Yves Saint Laurent, Halston and Marc Jacobs just to name a few that were mentioned. I really enjoyed reading about each designer and learning more about whom or what inspired them most. The book led me to think about ‘celebrity designers.’ I have been wanting to write about the topic of designers for awhile and I thought what better way then to include it in my ‘Only if you believe it is’ series. The question I wanted to ask you all is if you believe that celebrities that have clothing collections deserve to really be called “designers”? 

 The average person may score the occasional deal on some designer labels, but for the most part, the ‘big designer names’ are reserved for celebrities or the super wealthy folk. Now, it seems that some celebrities have tried taking on the role as designers. I see them everyday as I walk through department stores. Jennifer Lopez, The Kardashian Collection, Lauren Conrad, Jessica Simpson, Adam Levine and the list goes on forever these days! Recently, I heard that Ryan Seacrest will also be joining the league of actors, singers and TV personalities that will be starting their own clothing lines!  I also read that Sarah Jessica Parker is starting a line at Nordstrom. Although the line is a far cry from what she used to sell at Steve and Barry’s. The Nordstrom line will carry shoes, handbags and some clothing items that will be at the higher end of the price scale. One pair of Parker’s shoes will set you back about $200-$400. I know the woman knows her Manolo Blahniks and I really do adore her. I’m inspired by her character Carrie Bradshaw on Sex & the City for her writing and her fashion sense. But, if I am going to pay that much for a pair of heels…well I’d prefer to throw a couple hundred more out there and buy some Manolos. Hey, a gal can dream right?

 Personally, I do like and wear clothing items that are featured in ‘celebrity collections.’ But, do I think that they sketched out their own designs and worked hard to start their own clothing line? No, not so much! Celebrities already have connections in the fashion world based on what they actually do like being an actress, singer, TV personality ect. Yes, I know they worked hard to get to do their actual profession and I respect them for that. But, when it comes to the fashion world…hmm, I can only assume that others are the brains behind the branding. Whenever celebrities are interviewed about their newest perfume/cologne for example, they say that they tell the manufacturers what they like and then it is made for them to sample. I would think that clothing lines would be the same way. The celebrity says something along the lines of, “I like to wear this certain style or I would define my style as…”and viola a collection is born with their face/name all over it.

 What do you think actual designers think of ‘celebrity designers?’ Do you think they would be like the caterpillar and ask “And, Whoooo are you?” Or, do you think they would accept them as one of their own? I guess ‘celebrity clothing collections’ only bother me when it comes to how I feel about actual designers. Most designers we know today started from the ground up. They started from nothing and made their own way into the fashion world. They put the hard work in, they sketched their own designs and they stayed up late at night to make final touches on sample pieces. They didn’t start as something else only to say, “A clothing line with my name on it? Sure, sounds great, more money for me.”  I respect designers because their creativity is what made them what they are, not connections.

 Tell me where you stand on “celebrity designers.”  I would love to hear what you believe one way or the other and hope you continue reading my ‘Only if you believe it is’ series! Part 4 will be here soon!

Part 2: Only if you believe it is: Made in America

Made in America, it has a bit of a ring to it doesn’t it? You know where I don’t see it written a lot though? I don’t see it written on any of my clothing tags. Right underneath the size, what I usually see is, Cambodia, Indonesia, China and the list goes on and on. When Alice fell down the rabbit hole, she mentioned that she thought she may have passed China or something along those lines. If she had, maybe she would have noticed all the clothing companies there. Even in the newest movie version of Alice in Wonderland, she becomes an apprentice to her father’s company and says that she wants to do a type of trade with China. I’m not going to pretend that I know a lot about why clothing companies choose to produce in places other than the United States. I can tell you what I’ve heard though. I gather that it has something to do with cost of labor. I can only assume that workers are not paid as much as they would be if they worked in the U.S. This fact only leads me to wonder about certain other conditions and to want to ask more questions. Is child labor still an issue? Do workers have adequate working conditions? What exactly are they being paid? Are people within the United States out of a job because it was shipped overseas?

I think I actually do feel guilty when I look at those tiny ‘Made in: insert anything but the U.S.’ letters. I look at the detail in my clothing. The stitching, the beadwork and wonder how long it took to make just that one article of clothing. I wonder, did the person that made this grow up sewing? Did they learn from a family member? Is this all they will ever do because it is all they know? I’m really not looking for a political debate; I guess I am only really wondering about the fairness towards these workers. I wonder if while clothing companies are making billions on top of billions, these people that are making the merchandise are going home with a handful of change every night. On the other hand, it could be good money to them and a good job opportunity. The question I think I’m asking is if you believe that it is right or wrong that so many clothing companies manufacture in other countries?

I did some research and ran across a few lists of companies that manufacture in the United States. I saw a few that were familiar to me. LL Bean, New Balance, American Apparel, Rag & Bone and Levi Strauss & Co. all produce at least some of their merchandise within the U.S. (There are many other companies that produce various types of merchandise in the United States. I’m using the ones I listed because I know they are ones that many consumers recognize.) Now, the lists that I saw were under certain headings like footwear, clothing, handbags, ect. So, New Balance for example, I think only produces their athletic footwear in the U.S. When it comes to their clothing, well overseas it is I guess. I honestly didn’t even know that happened. I didn’t know that a company could produce some items in the U.S. and other items elsewhere. I learn something new every day. I want to continue to learn, so please share your thoughts! Again, this isn’t a political debate by any means; I just want to share topics that have some basis in the fashion world. I would love to hear what you think and hope you stay tuned for Part 3 of my ‘Only if you believe it is’ series!

Part 1: Only if you believe it is: Online Shopping

Alice believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast. So, I ask you, what do you, dear reader, believe in when it comes to fashion?

This post is the first part of my ‘Only if you believe it is” series. As part of this series I would love to hear back from you! I would really enjoy reading your opinions on what you believe in based on the six fashion-based topics I share over the next couple of months! Alice was always trying to figure things out while finding her way through Wonderland. She used her knowledge to take one step at a time and we must use our knowledge as well to choose what we believe in. The fashion world is our Wonderland I guess.

 To start things off… let’s talk about hopping online like the white rabbit and shopping!

Step 1: Visit your favorite website

We live in an age that fashion has become more convenient to us. We can get better bargains and are exposed to so many options when it comes to retail. A huge example of that is online shopping. I started thinking about what I believed in as far as online shopping goes. I waver on the topic. I find online shopping to be convenient and fun. It’s true, I believe it’s a bit of a high when you head to checkout and you get your thank you confirmation. Do I think it can be addictive? Yes, ma’am. So, I venture on and offline to shop occasionally. But, with so many options to shop online I can see where people would get overwhelmed. Hautelook, shopstyle, zappos, gilt, justfab are just a few of the most publicized online shopping experiences.

 

Step 2: Choose your style, size, color

Online choices are kind of like nutrition choices. Sometimes it can feel like too many options are being thrown at you! Whole Grain! Gluten! Low-fat! Fat-free! Organic! This chicken was facing northeast when it laid this egg, so it is better for you than an egg that was laid facing southeast! Pure madness I tell you! Do we shop online at our favorite stores where we have shopped at before or stores we have never been to before? Perhaps, shopping somewhere a stylist can choose items based on my style personality? Nutrition and fashion can be one in the same when it comes to a variety of choices. We have so many that it can be overwhelming sometimes.  I tend to go the route of stores that I have been to and that I am familiar with their sizing and styles.

 

Step 3: Checkout

All that being said, a big question I have is with all of these options, are we saving or spending more by shopping online? Do I believe that we are always getting the best deals online all the time…hmm I’m not so sure kittens. I will use a certain online shoe company for an example. Do I really need a pair of shoes delivered to my door once a month? No, not really. I would rather buy a quality pair of shoes that cost a little more every once in a great while than to get a cheaper variety shoe on my doorstep every month. I’m not saying that online shoe companies don’t carry trendy shoes. I’m only using them as an example because they are a company that delivers once a month. It may not be my “cup of tea” at the Mad Hatter’s ‘online boutique’ party, but I can see where it would be helpful to others. I once heard someone say that they shopped the “once a month delivery” way because it kept them on a budget. Totally understandable!

 Step 4: Thank you confirmation

I also understand the “special quality” of purchasing something online that may not be available anywhere else. I see items all the time that I feel are mass produced and every other individual is sporting. It does make you feel special when someone compliments you on an item that you are wearing and you get to say it was purchased on an online boutique. Believe me, I get it. Personally, I always find it fun to purchase something in a store and then go online to research the designer/company. Through research online, I feel more informed about the designer/company and can continue checking out their items for future reference. I think it opens my eyes to more designers and different brands to look for when I venture out to shop.

 

These are just some of my thoughts on shopping online, so tell me what you think! Stay tuned for Part 2 of my “Only if you believe it is ” series!

Facing the Jabberwock. Facing your fashion fears.

We all get scared. We all have fears. When we were little, we hid under the covers from the monsters in our closets. Then we grew up and feared things that actually existed. Things we had to face in order to live our day to day lives. ( Mine was driving, I was convinced it was going to lead to my demise. It was my personal jabberwock.) There was a  period in my life where I felt I was constantly saying to myself, “I’m scared. There is no way I can get past this fear.” But, it’s just like the Mad Hatter told Alice when she was about to fight the jabberwock. She said, ” This is impossible,” and the Mad Hatter replied,” Only if you believe it is.”  We must get over our fears to move forward because being scared just keeps us in the same exact place. Just like we face our regular fears, we must face our fashion fears.

Do you ever find yourself wearing the same outfit repeatedly, feel yourself longingly loving an outfit you see in a store window and saying to yourself ” Oh, I could never wear that.”? Well, you ladies are who I am talking to specifically! There are so many looks to try out there in this big ol’ world of fashion. Why be scared to try new styles? What will trying on a new outfit actually do to you? Absolutely nothing and everything I say! If you try new styles, you will only be more knowledgeable about what you like, what fits you best and what you know you will never put on your body again.

On your next shopping trip, promise me that you will be adventurous and try new styles. You will be so glad that you did. I recently discovered Pinterest. I know, it’s been around a while, blah blah blah. I’m a late tech bloomer. Did I mention another one of my fears was starting this blog? Anyway, I love scarves. I wear them all the time. I’m surprised that when I’m not wearing one that people don’t ask ” Amy, is everything okay?” Well, I’m glad that they don’t ask that, but you know what people do ask me? When I’m not wearing make up I get, ” Amy, you feeling alright? Ya tired?” People, can a girl’s face just have a breather every once in a while? My pores aren’t getting any smaller here. Anyway, SCARVES. I was looking through Pinterest, ya know pinning away and I found various ways to wear scarves. I have been wearing mine the same way for a long time. A “scarf rut” if you will.  I know, I’m supposed to be your ‘fashion guru’ here, but I have issues too okay! Eventually everyone saw behind the curtain and figured out who the Great and Powerful Oz was. Like I was saying…Now, I’m weaving, winding and gettin all trendy like with them. I guess you can say, I got a little adventurous. I’ve also been a little apprehensive about trying the shorter silk scarves. I thought, well maybe I can’t pull that off. But, I tried it and am actually feelin it.  I may have felt like a flight attendent at first asking you to turn off all your electronics, but then it just felt like another style I tried out! Trust me, it’s a wonderful thing to step out of your comfort zone, that’s when you start living or in my case wearing your scarves different ways.

You know what word you can find inside of fashion? ‘HI’. So go on girl, say hi to that new trend you have been wanting to try out, but have been too scared to. Face your jabberwock, even if your jabberwock is just a pencil skirt.

“We’re all mad here.” said the interviewer. What you should be wearing to your next interview.

“ Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”- Alice
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to.”- The Cheshire Cat

Do you remember this conversation? I sure do. Sounds like one I’ve had in many of my interviews. We are all trying to find our way through the world in one way or another. Finding a career that we enjoy doing is a big part of trying to find ourselves or figure out where we want to end up.

I’ve had my fair share of interesting experiences when it comes to the work field, specifically when it came to the initial interview. When I say “interesting experiences”, I’m being nice. What I really mean to say is that I’ve had some really weird and questionable interview experiences. Let me just share a couple of these stories before I get to the style portion of this post. I once heard that I was too prepared for an interview. I also was told once that I was too attractive and looked too professional for a specific job. Another time, an interviewer met with me three times and told me I had a job. Then, proceeded to call me a few days later and say that he didn’t have a job for me after all. More recently, I was greeted by an interviewer who wanted to tell me about the delicate digestive  issues of a particular cat that they had just rescued and made the office pet. She was no Dinah. The cat, not the interviewer. All situations that I found slightly mad.

Even though you may run into some strange interview situations, your interview style shouldn’t suffer because of them. I don’t know if you have noticed, but I think interview style is more adventurous than ever. In the past, we were always told to wear black, gray or beige and closed toed shoes. Snore…zzzz.  In other words, cover up any sign that you are a woman when applying for a job. I don’t believe in it.  (In fact, “I’ve believed in as many as six impossible things before breakfast!”) However, I do believe in a little thing called ‘a pop of color.’

For instance, wearing a blazer in a color with a pair of dark dress pants or skirt can make for a very confident interview look. Although, I don’t recommend wearing a full suit of a bright color. Interviewers may scare us, but we don’t want to scare them by walking into their offices looking like little lightning bugs.

A dress in one solid color can also work for an interview. Dresses should be at your knee or even a little past depending on your height. Neutral blazers will look great over a solid color dress. Mini skirts or anything super tight fitting is inappropriate, unless you are applying for a position as an exotic dancer. No judgement.

If you do have a nice fitted suit in a neutral color, you can also add a color button up shirt underneath. I think this look is very professional and put together. If you do decide to wear a button down, make sure it fits appropriately. If you are bigger busted, these types of shirts are bound to pull across the chest. Try wearing a neutral cami under the button down and leave a couple buttons open. It will still look classy with the cami showing underneath. Cleavage is something that you never want to be a distraction in an interview. Unless, again, the place you are applying for announces your name before you hit the stage.

Accessories are also something that I want to touch base on when it comes to your interview style. I love jewelry just as much as the next gal. But, for an interview, I say tone it down. You don’t want the person interviewing you to be concentrating on your flashy necklace instead of what you are saying. If jewelry is like oxygen to you and you absolutely have to have it, then I recommend smaller pieces. Small pendants, post earrings, tennis bracelets and watches are all fine. Matching sets can sometimes work as well.  Leave the chandelier earrings for cocktail hour!

Now, I said I like a pop of color for your interview clothing, but I don’t want to see it on your feet. Your shoes should be neutral and weather appropriate. Closed toe for winter and peep toe for summer. You should also stay with a smaller heel.  The pointed heel seems to be the most popular for professional wear. I think as long as they look professional that you will be fine.

Hosiery should also be taken into consideration. If you are wearing a dress or a skirt for an interview, then I’m pro hosiery. But, I’m thinking that hosiery does make more sense in the winter months more than the summer months.

We all want to stand out in an interview. Of course, we must do this with our expertise and our abilities. But, we can also stand out  with our interview fashion sense. Again, you may run into some mad people in the work field, but at least now you will look good doing it!

Mr. Cheshire will see you now…

How do you see yourself in the looking glass?

Let’s talk about self confidence, shall we?

Basically, all we ever hear about anymore is body image this and body image that. These are my thoughts. We are all built differently, we all have different body types given to us at birth. That’s right, we came out of the womb with our own lil genes ( think I wore levis) and decided that we were gonna rock what we were given. All that being said, we have to put clothes on those bodies. Well, not according to this show I watched last night called “Buying Naked.” Talk about going amongst mad people! Those people are missing out on fashion all together, but they sure do have their self confidence in check. It’s about buying homes in a nudist colony by the way. Alright, back to  body image. The real point of this post is that I think every woman needs to understand that you have to love your body or you are never going to love what you put on your body. Fashion is way too fun to let negative body image keep you away from it!

If you really think about it, your body is kind of like a construction site. Wait, it’s going to make sense. Construction workers can’t build a structure if the foundation is shaky. Your body is the foundation here and the structure is fashion. So, understand your body type and dress it accordingly. Of course, going by my guidelines and tips that I have been laying out for you right?  Wear clothing that makes you look amazing and you will feel amazing. Personally, I’m a dressy person and as I told you before I live in a small town. Those two things being said, there aren’t a lot of places to get all gussied up and go out to. Let me rephrase that, there are NO places to prance around in your fanciest of fancy things. I dress up because it makes me feel good. You should always dress for you and nobody else. You know who you are more than anyone else right?

We all have a looking glass that we wake up to. We all mentally take note of what we see in it daily whether we realize  it or not. But, for some reason, the negative notes take over the positive ones. I’m actually writing this post to myself too, just in case anyone was wondering. The negative definitely wants to infiltrate my brain and sometimes I tell it to back off! So, I believe in daily affirmations. I believe in looking in the mirror and saying, ” Well, look at you today lady, you need to walk like you have some good lookin guys walkin behind you.” I really think these thoughts can lift your mood and self confidence if you let them. My advice, say something nice to yourself in the mirror everyday. Replace the negative with the positive, then go shopping;) Since, the negative keeps us standing in one place and the positive moves us forward. We can learn from Alice on this one. She never gave up on getting home. She had some break downs and some tears, but she kept moving forward. We are women, we will be down about our bodies at one time or another, but we will prevail or maybe even find a sale!

So, what did we learn today? Say nice things to yourself in the looking glass everyday,  love your body, dress for you, wear outfits that make you feel amazing and don’t watch “Buying Naked” unless you have mentally prepared yourself beforehand. I’m so glad that they didn’t call it ” Alice in a nudist colony.” This would be a completely different blog if that were the case.