Part 5: Only if you believe it is: Dressed or Depressed

Sweatpants, t-shirts and flip-flops…do these clothing items make you smile or frown? Perhaps, if you are changing into them after a hard day’s work after being in casual business attire all day, then maybe they seem like the best thing ever. But, what if they were what you wore day after day? Let me add on top of that the fact that you don’t fix your hair or add a stitch of make-up to your face? Now what do you say? Do you believe that putting yourself together has a direct correlation to your mood?

This was pretty much the situation for me all throughout my college years. I was too wrapped up in my studies to really do anything to myself. I would see these girls around campus and they would look so put together. They made it look easy. The idea of fixing my hair, doing my make-up and wearing anything that didn’t have an elastic waistband seemed…well unheard of for me at that time. I thought, how do these girls do it? I was up till 3 a.m. finishing my paper! Well, maybe they weren’t procrastinators like me, but that’s not the point here.

I started to notice that guys weren’t really giving me a second glance, but I guess it never really seemed to bother me. But, when I look back on my college years, I’m surprised at the drastic change I went through. I went from the peppy girl with school spirit on the dance team in high school to the girl who just rolled out of bed to get to class in college. What happened to me back then? Did I get in a rut? Was I depressed because of the stage of life I was in or was I depressed because I wasn’t fixing myself up every now and then?

Now, dry your tears, it gets good. I started to do a little social experiment when I was in college. It wasn’t really intentional, I just felt like dressing up sometimes and noticed the effect that it had. If I dressed up, would people react differently to me? The answer. By golly, they did. They paid compliments and asked questions. Sometimes, I think they thought I was a completely different person. I mean it’s the same in daily life, you put a little effort into your looks and people take notice. It isn’t about being vain, it’s about taking care of yourself.

Personally, I know that if I’m having a good hair and make up day, that I have a little pep in my step and the world seems a little brighter. There may even be singing animals involved, I don’t know… it gets crazy. So, I know that if I don’t fix myself up, I just don’t feel as great as I know I could feel. Again, it isn’t about vanity or the whole judging a book by it’s cover thing, it’s just about doing the little things that make you feel like a part of life.

Tell me what you think? Do you think you feel like a more positive person when you have lip gloss on or does it really matter either way? Part 6, the grand finale, of the Only if you believe it series will be here soon. You may cry again…but not too much. Or,you will have to find a tiny bottle to float in to get through the door to Wonderland…

Part 4: Only if you believe it is: Flashback Fashion

Yves Saint Laurent once said,” Fashions fade, style is eternal.” This famous quote got me to thinking about vintage fashion and how it inspires current designers.

One of my favorite films is ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s.’ I, like Holly Golightly, think Tiffany’s is a place where nothing can possibly harm you. A magical place if you will…kind of like a wonderland for jewelry lovers everywhere. How does this amazing movie tie in with vintage fashion? Three words. Little Black Dress. Every woman that has ever seen ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ dreamt of looking as classic in a little black dress as Audrey Hepburn did. She made having a pastry and coffee in front of a jewelry store window look like the epitome of elegance. There is even a special features section on the DVD that talks about how influential Audrey Hepburn’s style was. Now, every stylist in the world recommends having a little black dress as a staple in your wardrobe.

My question for you, dear reader, is if you believe that vintage comes back around in current fashion or is everything just considered “new”?

I definitely side with vintage making it’s appearance time and time again. I also think certain fashions will never go out of style. If anything, pop culture plays a huge role on what becomes the most popular style to wear. ‘The Great Gatsby’ is a great example. I noticed after the movie came out that the 1920′s literally came roaring back into the fashion scene. Bridal collections have even featured 1920′s style dresses. I admit that the 20′s had a lot going for it fashion wise. Flashy headdresses, unique jewelry, furs and flapper styles galore. Best of all…Tiffany’s even featured a ‘Great Gatsby’ collection. See how that just all came around full circle? Even blew my mind for a second.

Honestly, I side with the fact that nothing in fashion is ultimately new anymore. Designers have to get their inspiration from somewhere even if it isn’t previous styles. It could be art or even architecture that inspires them. Yes, I think that something can be twisted and molded into something that seems like the latest and greatest. But, everyone has a muse.

I love the fact that vintage is something that seems recycled in a way. I don’t really mean recycled as in save the trees. But, recycled in the sense that I feel like fashion is a never ending story. When we wear any article of clothing it’s like it has a history. For instance, if varsity style was never invented, would I currently be wearing a Victoria’s Secret Pink sweatshirt that was inspired by it?

I’m not saying that designers are not creative innovators. Their minds have to stay on “creativity mode” so they can invent collections to sell to the masses. Designers are like Mad Hatters. I can imagine them sitting in a room of material talking to themselves. I’m amazed at what I see on celebrities and runway shows. But, I also look at each article of clothing and wonder what inspired them to make it.

Tell me what your thoughts are on vintage fashion. I’ll be working on Part 5 of Only if you believe it is.

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.