Saturday, January 23, 2010

What's Your Style?

When it comes to designing my handmade original clothing I find I am inspired my many things. While it usually starts with fabrics I find, there are many other things that fire my creative imagination. Many times I will see an article of clothing hanging in a shop or on a person in the street or in a magazine and these are often jumping off points for me that get me thinking "Hmmmm, I like but that but I would change this and add that....." or something to that effect.

When I find something in a magazine or other publication I cut it out and stick it to one of my many inspiration boards. Sometimes I am inspired by a basic design or outline, sometimes it is the fabric but most often it is a single detail. Every time I look at my boards I am amazed at the diversity of styles represented there. Some are tailored and classic, some are romantic and Bohemian, others are edgy and punk and so on. I have appreciation for every type of style out there and would love to wear them all. Clothing should be fun and we all have the freedom to experiment with style. But I got to wondering about how to DEFINE different styles. I set out to do this and realized it was going to be harder than I thought. So I bought a book. "The Lucky Guide To Mastering Any Style". This has been a fun read. This book breaks style down into 11 categories. What I like about it is that while the book defines these different styles, it doesn't promote hard and fast rules about them. The book is a guide, a jumping off point and a reference from which we can 'locate' our style favorites.

According to "Lucky" these are the labels and definitions of the different styles. The labels are Lucky's, the definitions are my condensed version.

1. Euro Chic- These are the women for whom the word "chic" was invented. The ones who make all the fashion editors take notice and bow to perfection. There's a sense of selectiveness and couture to everything they wear- expensive or not- and how they wear it. Euro Chic is effortless and sophisticated. It is eclectic high fashion. Examples of this style: Catherine Deneuve, Bianca Jagger

2. California Casual- This is a look grounded in time and place that may have never existed outside of our imaginations: the tawny golden Malibu of the 70s. A combination of dreamy sexuality and surfer girl vitality that makes this look so distinct. California Casual is distinctly American. If there were a style of dress for which the word 'breezy' applied, this is it. Farrah Fawcett, Cameron Diaz

3. Rock & Roll- The essentials of rock style are no big mystery; jeans and leather pants, a boyish biker jacket, some wicked looking boots. But it's a matter of combining these with lots of slink and style and balancing the tough with the ethereal, the strict with the sensuous. Patti Smith, Debbie Harry

4. Posh Eclectic- In this category we find madcap glamor made up of equal parts country-estate frump and the black-sheep aristocrat's disregard for what's acceptable. But there is a genuine chemistry when it all comes together. eg: fearless layering of decades--40s librarian with 70s punk with 30s socialite with turn of the century gothic-- finished with vintage touches. Sophie Dahl, Daphne Guinness

5. Mod- This bold category was inspired by a subway slogan. "Brave New London". Mary Quant, the originator of Mod, used this as a directive for her new designs. They were boldly black and white, zippered, geometric and shiny. They went far beyond new and were considered futuristic. Mod still feels like the future- not the future as it happened but the era's happy, optimistic and flirty version of it. The look is still sexy and stylish, but this time around with a wink. Twiggy, Selma Blair

6. American Classic- The most timeless- and certainly most trendproof- of looks, this style is one that gets right at the heart of our fixation on the northeastern-elite lifestyle. Today that means something that's part equestrian, Ivy league and Jackie O. Ladylike with a bit of urban knowingness thrown in. The look can be menswear inspired without being unfeminine. Grace Kelly, Katherine Hepburn

7. Bombshell- Sophia Loren once said, "Sex appeal is 50% what you've got and 50% what they think you've got." Bombshell might be the most labor intensive look of all. These women work hard to get glamorous. They take care to slip on stockings so the seam goes straight up the back; to cinch their waist way in; to wear coordinated lingerie sets, complicated corsets and high heels- to the market. They take us out of time, away from trends and practicality. Primarily 40s and 50s influenced- but not strictly vintage- the core elements remain the same. It's about shape and polish with a dose of sparkle. Marilyn Monroe, Ann-Margaret

8. Arty Slick- In its purist form this fearlessly stylish look will forever be ahead of its time. Full of structured, asymmetrical jackets and dresses, layered tops and boldly sculptural jewelry, this is both avant-garde flair and minimalist cool. Almost everything is black and has some twist to it; swingy draping, a collar with shape or volume, a V-neck that doesn't quite V. Still, for all its drama Arty Slick isn't all or nothing; you can prove your point with slouchy trousers, a skinny tank and a bright necklace. The key is to let go of any desire to blend in with the pack. Isabella Rossellini, Bjork

9. Bohemian- This style is eclectic, with a high-low mesh of earthy and flashy. It's about wearing rich pieces capriciously- frayed jeans and ornate jewelry, rough-hewn sandals and a delicate dress. The effect is sophisticated and amazingly cool. Stevie Nicks, Ali MacGraw

10. Gamine- This in an intercontinental mix of clean American lines and French indifference. The wardrobe couldn't be more simple or timeless- cotton cardigans; cool, lovely floral dresses; old-school espadrilles; boatneck sweaters in navy and red- but put together in an offhand, pedaling-to-the-market kind of way. Audrey Hepburn, Audrey Tatou

11. Mix and Match- Naturally most people can't be categorized into a single iconic look. Personal style is a fun ever-changing thing and we are all about being creative and mixing it up a bit - some Posh Eclectic flash with a bit of American Classic neatness; Euro Chic layered with Mod; and so on.

Examples of this Mix and Match style? The rest of us. It is fun to consider the iconic looks of these different styles, but in regard to most of the people I know including myself, we wear a blend of many of these defined styles. Our mode of dress for everyday life is typically an amalgamation of many different looks. There are no rules here. We can all choose our own style, styles or lack of any which is still a style. The thing I like to see is people wearing what they like and feel good in. I like that sense of personal choice and individualism. Yes, clothing is functional in that it protects us but since it is a requirement we may as well make it a personal form of self expression.

Did you find yourself picking a favorite from the list above? I found I favored them all! Guess that makes my own personal style truly eclectic. That probably explains why I design the way I do. My work certainly does not fall into any single style category. I can see that my original ladies wear and accessories fall into many of the categories, if not all of them. Want to see for yourself? Drop into my
shop and check out my eclectic designs. This week I am in the studio creating wraps and warm tops. Watch for those new designs the end of the week. You may find something that suits your style.

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