Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Can somebody dress me please?

I’m not very good at dressing myself. Oh I’m fairly competent at pulling on pants and doing up my bra strap, but when it comes to picking clothes that actually look good on me and make me feel like a well-dressed, confident woman, I fall a little short in the skills department. I know what I like, but what I like and what looks good on my lumpy body are usually two different things. (Ah yes – if your psychoanalysis skills are intact, you’ve zeroed in on the problem – I’m not too fond of my overly-accentuated curves or my hang-to-the-waistline never-wear-button-up-tops boobs. So I avoid stores that remind me of that particular inadequacy. Sigh.)

I tend to dress for the lowest common denominator. 1.) Is it cheap? 2.) Does it fit? 3.) Is it a little less likely to make me look like a lumpy elephant or Dolly Parton’s saggy, less surgically modified twin than the other stuff on the rack? Lately, since we’ve been living with one income for most of the last 6 years (and kids grow out of clothes way too fast), number 1 criteria has trumped the others – it’s gotta be cheap. Approximately 75% of my clothes have come from second-hand stores, a fact that mortifies my fashion-conscious teenage daughter. (But it’s not all bad – I have lots of scarves collected from the various countries I’ve visited, so I almost always throw on a splash of colour to draw the eye away from the worn-out not-very-trendy threads underneath.)

Now I find myself in a dilemma. As you might have guessed, this “communicator of the year” thing is kind of a big deal for me – a career milestone, you might say. They’re going to present me with the award at a schwanky “gala luncheon” in a fancy hotel ballroom. This is the kind of place that will be filled with confident, accomplished business people, mostly dressed in power suits and shiny shoes. I don’t think many of them will show up in the shoes they just bought for $5.99 at Value Village (they’re great shoes, by the way!), or the blazer that has the sleeves rolled up to cover the hole in the cuff.

Since this kind of thing doesn’t happen every day, and I want to make the most of my “moment in the sun”, I want to treat myself to some new threads that make me feel good and look at least a little like what you'd expect the "communicator of the year" to look like. No, I don’t want to dress like them (I’m not a power suit and high heels kinda gal), I just want something that suits me and makes me look smart and feel confident (though still unique and a little bit funky).

So…. HELP! I need a personal shopper! I am SO not good at buying clothes for myself! I don’t even know where to begin. Usually I just rush into a store when I need something, grab whatever fits my lowest-common-denominator criteria, and rush out again (or stop for cheesecake if I find nothing and the shopping experience made me miserable – go ahead and psychoanalyze!) I wandered around at lunch time yesterday, and the racks of clothes just sort of overwhelmed me. I don’t know what colours look good on me (with the exception of turquoise – EVERYBODY always tells me I look good in turquoise), I don’t know what’s a good style for my body type, I don’t know where to shop, and I don’t know how to match tops with bottoms.

Anybody have any advice? Or a free Saturday afternoon to drag me to a store and pick something out for me?


Bailey said...

Advice? Not personal advice, but google is our friend:

Wear V-neck fitted cardigans, scooped necks and pencil skirts. Skirts should be fastened on the side and flat-fronted, to avoid extra bulk. Sewn down paneling on the top half of a bottom-pleated skirt holds the tummy at the front and cuts the buttocks in half. Asymmetric pleats on a tulip skirt will lift and bring out the bottom. Wear jackets with a single button (which will emphasize the narrowest area of the body). Traditional jeans don't always work, so go for a tailored, wide legged denim trouser. Avoid tight, wide-cut pants, which can make the bottom look wider; a straighter leg style (full but not flared), that doesn't pull at the hips, is more flattering. Avoid pleats around the hips and belly (they add bulk) or anything high-waisted. Wear waist defining pieces and empire-waist dresses.

Colors should be muted, monochromatic is best and prints should be kept to a minimum. Avoid clothes with pleats or gathers and jackets that stop anywhere from navel to hips. Buy maxi length blouses, vests, or duster coats that you can wear open over your clothes Accessories are your friends Wear scarves and jewelry that draw the eye to the top or center of the torso.


Willing to go shopping? Sure!

Anonymous said...

I watch "what not to wear" once in awhile and it has helped me decipher between what I like and what suits me. Apparently "how to look good naked" is helpful too despite it's unfortunate name. I really like to shop at Coldwater Creek, unfortunately they don't have a store here. I shop in the States or on-line (a bit of a risk but it's worked well for me). Some stuff can be a little "old lady-ish" but I've found lots of great outfits. I think that it would appeal to you. Check out these two outfits (I don't think they follow the Bailey's advice though).



Hope that helps. Best of luck. Is this an IABC thing?


Karmyn R said...

I wish I could help you - but my wardrobe is pretty much limited to jeans and drab shirts at the moment. (I have never had much fashion sense)

mmichele said...

sounds like so much fun. not sure if i can make it happen in the next couple days but i would love to. can we spend more than $5.99?

Linda said...

How about that great new top/jacket you bought in TO with some new great black dress pants?

elaine said...

a little pricey, but have you tried eillen fischers line, beautifully drapped soft fabrics , classic relaxed style, i think you may live in canada for some reason, but if you are close to the border you can buy them in the usa, and scout out her web site ahead of time... usually have decent sales a few times a yr..

Hope said...

sorry.... no help from me... my own personal shopper is my dear friend, and she moved to Saskatoon. Twice a year she would take me to Winners, set me up in a change room. All I had to do is try things on , and pull out my debit card at the end.
My advice, take a saturday, take a friend and find something you like (DO NOT HEAD TO VALUE VILLAGE) and do not look at price tags.

Liz said...

When you figure it out, let me know. I have no clue how to dress myself either. Mostly I wear jeans and hoodies. I've taken my oldest daughter shopping with me and she knows way more than I do what will look good.

joyce said...

dressing UP? Argh!
Hope your helpful friends can help you. Black is always the best fall back. Black looks great with turquoise too.

Stephanie said...

Alas, I cannot help you since I neither live close nor know what stores are near to you. But one thing that has helped me is to check out some favorite stores online where they often have outfits put together. Banana Republic is my go-to store, and I see what they have featured online and then I buy it. I can only do this once a year (since our clothing budget goes mostly to the girls), but at least I have a couple of fabulous outfits in my closet.

Another resource for fashion advice on what to wear or not: www.realsimple.com. Click on their fashion link and they have some helpful ideas.

Good luck and happy shopping!

PS: I highly recommend wearing some sparkly jewelry (earrings and/or bracelet) to events because they show up nicely under lights. They don't even have to be real diamond earrings. The fake ones sparkle well too!

PPS: Not related to dressing up, but related to looking well up on stage...eye make-up. It allows for people to really see the emotion in your face when your eyes have some mascara and eye liner. And your facial expression is really the best accessory that you have :)

Pamela said...

I'm like you in that I try to get by with the less expensive.

Wearing subdued with a splash of color like you already do sounds like a good match.

Vicki said...

When I have something I have to splurge on I go to Lane Bryant and those women will pick out outfits and bring them to me to try on. They pick out things I'd never pick out for myself and we've had some real "winners".

Please post what you decide on.

I'm proud of you.